Poppyscotland (formerly the Earl Haig Fund Scotland) organises the annual Scottish Poppy Appeal and distributes over five million poppies and 8,000 wreaths each year.
Founded in 1921 by Field Marshal Earl Haig, Commander of British Forces 1914-1918, the organisation has provided practical support to ex-Servicemen, women and their families in need for almost 90 years.
The first Poppy Appeal took place in 1921 with poppies imported from France. In 1926 the Field Marshal’s wife, Lady Haig, established Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory in Edinburgh, which began with two men making poppies using a pair of scissors. However, demand for poppies and employment soon grew and numbers of both swelled.
Over five million poppies and 8,000 wreaths are produced every year by veterans with disabilities in Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory, before being distributed to volunteers across Scotland, who ensure poppies and collecting tins are displayed in shops, businesses and schools.
Although Poppyscotland raises money all year round through fundraising events and activities, the Scottish Poppy Appeal is the organisation’s largest fundraising event, achieving a record £2.2 million in 2009 – a 9% increase on the year before. Poppyscotland reaches more veterans than any other charity in Scotland and uses all money raised to provide vital support to ex-Servicemen, women and their families, in two ways.
Firstly, by providing direct financial assistance to those in need with one-off and annual grants. Over the last year we have helped 1,400 individuals by helping to finance home repairs and household items, respite breaks, mobility aids such as electric-powered vehicles and other personal needs. We also offer retraining grants and business loans to help veterans get on the right career paths.
Secondly, by supporting organisations that deliver specialist services to veterans. Over the last year Poppyscotland awarded over £1 million to 13 organisations, including a grant of £660,000 to help with the building of new homes across Scotland to provide accommodation for disabled veterans.
However, with increasing numbers of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan in need of support, Poppyscotland must raise more money each year. Many veterans struggle to adjust to civilian life. Recent research carried out by Poppyscotland shows that, compared to their English and Welsh counterparts, veterans living in Scotland are:
- 10% more likely to become homeless
- 8% more likely to suffer from mental health problems
- 5% more likely to have financial problems
- 5% more likely to have a criminal record
- 3% more likely to suffer from alcohol problems
Poppyscotland’s hard-hitting television advertising campaign aims to encourage the public to donate to the Scottish Poppy Appeal. The TV ad features Private Paul Lambert, 29, from Edinburgh.
Private Lambert was in Afghanistan with 1 SCOTS (Royal Scots Borderers), when he lost both his legs as a result of an IED explosion during a routine foot patrol. As well as the loss of his legs Paul suffered internal injuries and was 30 seconds away from death.
Talking about the incident, Paul said:
“I felt the blast more than I heard it. I could feel heat on my hands and face and I was thrown into the air. I remember my friend talking to me and someone shouting ‘grab his legs’ but I didn’t understand that they had gone.”
The theme of the 2010 campaign is Small things, big difference. Buying and wearing a poppy may seem like a small, personal act of remembrance but the money that the public puts in the tins is life-changing for many of Scotland’s ex-Servicemen and women.