Villagers near Ellesmere turned out in force to help launch  the Royal British Legion’s annual Poppy Appeal.

More than 80 supporters of the Criftins Community Coffee Club packed the parish hall, raising nearly £450 towards looking after thousands of servicemen and women, veterans and their families needing care, recovery, rehabilitation and financial support.

They were joined by volunteers from the Legion’s Ellesmere and District branch who will be going all-out to boost the charity’s fund-raising campaign in the run-up to Remembrance Sunday on November 12.

Last year’s appeal across Ellesmere raised more than £10,000, with the Shropshire county total exceeding £460,000.

Legion branch chairman, Bob Mcbride said: “On behalf of our branch, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported us in the past by donating to the appeal. Our thanks and appreciation also goes to all the local schools, businesses and community organisations that helped us in raising the money. The people of Ellesmere and district are always incredibly generous, even when the cost of living crisis is affecting everyone’s pocket and we hope they’ll give as much as they can this year.”

For the first time, the appeal is being led locally by former Brownies’ leader Caroline Ford.  She takes over from retiring organiser Lynn Howard who helped to raise more than £70,000 during seven years in the voluntary role.

A new feature this year is the introduction of an eco-friendly, plastic-free poppy made from an innovative blend of renewable fibre that can be recycled with ordinary paper.

“We’ll also be offering a wide range of poppy-themed Legion merchandise including the popular enamel poppy badges,” said Caroline.

“They’re now available in shops, pubs and other businesses throughout the area, also at the Sunday Farmers’ Market, street collections in the town centre and the poppy stall run by volunteers at Tesco’s Ellesmere store where you can pay by cash or card.”

Large promotional poppies have been fixed to lamp-posts throughout the town and a ‘rolling’ Scroll of Honour, listing the 83 men and one woman named on the Ellesmere War Memorial is displayed on a big screen in the window of Barlow’s Electrical store in  Cross Street .

Ahead of the Remembrance Sunday parade and service at St Mary’s parish church, the Legion is inviting people to join in the two minutes silence in the town centre at 11 o’clock on Armistice Day, Saturday, November 11.

This will be followed at 7.30 p.m by the annual Poppy Concert in the Comrades’ Club, with the Porthywaen Silver Band and other local entertainers.  Admission £5, pay at the door.

Pictured: Criftins Coffee Club volunteers helping to launch the Poppy Appeal.