12:02pm Friday 25th October 2013
By Kate Wilson
GLOUCESTERSHIRE residents are being urged to hop on the bus to show their support for armed forces families – who are the focus of the Royal British Legion’s poppy appeal this year.
A special poppy bus was unveiled in a ceremony to launch the county’s poppy appeal at the Imjin Barracks in Innsworth yesterday, Thursday.
The bus, which was provided by Stagecoach, has been decorated inside with union jack flags and the outside of the bus has been covered in poppies.
It will be used in a number of events running up to Remembrance Day and can be seen in Cheltenham today, Friday, when it is driven around the one way system in the town centre.
The bus will also be used to transport the Innsworth Military Wives Choir, who sang at the launch event, to Gloucester Rugby Club on Saturday, November 2 where they will perform during half-time.
Gloucester Rugby player Matt Cox also attended the launch ceremony on Thursday.
The bus has been launched as part of a year long fundraising campaign and can be spotted throughout the year when it is in service on routes all over Gloucestershire.
Nicole Mayall, community fundraiser for the poppy appeal in Gloucestershire, said: “The charity is not just in operation for the two weeks leading up to Remembrance Day, we are an all year charity and hopefully seeing this bus all over the county in the next year will remind people of that.
“We are also planning to use the bus for educational visits in schools next year to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War.”
Last year the Gloucestershire poppy appeal raised £731,000 and this year organisers have given themselves a fundraising target of £900,000.
Group Captain Anny Reid, chairman of the Gloucestershire branch of the Royal British Legion, said: “Every donation received for a poppy will make a real difference to the lives of armed forces families.”
“We support the entire armed forces community past and present, but families are at the heart of the 2013 poppy appeal.
“We recognise the strength of mothers, fathers, partners and children who serve alongside their loved ones every single day and who often need practical care and advice too.”
Mrs Reid contacted Stagecoach with the idea of a poppy bus when she began planning this year's poppy appeal.
Ian Manning, managing director of Stagecoach West, said: “As a company we always buy poppies for all of our 20,000 employees so when we were given the opportunity to get more involved with the appeal we were delighted to help.
“The bus is really eye-catching so it will be difficult to miss when it goes out on service routes across the county,” said Mr Manning.
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