£1m London Poppy Day fundraiser cancelled due to rail strikes

The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal director Simon O’Leary said the day is “one of the most important days in our annual remembrance calendar”.

21 October 2022

A £1 million fundraiser for Poppy Day has been cancelled because of the rail strikes.

The Royal British Legion (RBL) said its London Poppy Day event “will not go ahead as planned” on November 3 due to the action by the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union.

The RBL says it is now “urgently considering alternative arrangements to lessen the impact” from the loss of funds on its work with members of the Armed Forces community.

Up to 2,000 personnel, veterans and volunteers had been lined up to help with collections at 70 locations across London’s tube and train stations, office blocks and out on the streets from 7am to 7pm.

The RBL says volunteers  help to raise “crucial funds” and this year’s annual event would also have included performances from 10 military bands at various locations.

In a statement the RBL said: “Raising up to £1 million annually, the event sees 2,000 military personnel and veterans collecting for the RBL’s Poppy Appeal across transport hubs in London.

“We are urgently considering alternative arrangements to lessen the impact from the loss of funds on our vital work with the Armed Forces community, and we will update you as our plans progress.”

London Poppy Day has taken place each year on the first Thursday in November since 2006 and aims to raise £1 million in a day.

The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal director Simon O’Leary said: “London Poppy Day is one of the most important days in our annual remembrance calendar. It is a huge logistical operation across the capital taking significant planning and resource, which we are now unfortunately in the process of cancelling and informing our volunteers to stand down.

The Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal 2020
Members of 7 Battalion REME, 132 Aviation Support Squadron selling poppies at Liverpool Street underground station during London Poppy Day (Sergeant Todd/MoD/PA)

“The same situation occurred during the rail strikes in 2016, and we were grateful to the RMT on that occasion for rearranging the strike action, however, they have confirmed the strike will be going ahead on 3 November this year.”

Railway workers at 14 train operating companies are to stage strikes next month in the long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

RMT members are set to walk out on November 3 and 5.

The action is to coincide with strikes on the same days by RMT members on Network Rail, London Underground and London Overground.

The strikes will cause widespread disruption to services across the country after a summer of strikes in the deadlocked row over pay, jobs and conditions.

The 14 train operating companies involved in the fresh strikes are: Chiltern Railways, Cross Country Trains, Greater Anglia, LNER, East Midlands Railway, c2c, Great Western Railway, Northern Trains, South Eastern, South Western Railway, Transpennine Express, Avanti West Coast, West Midlands Trains and GTR (including Gatwick Express).

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch has written to the RBL saying the union “obviously regrets and apologises for the disruption caused by strike action” which he described as “an absolute last resort”.

He said those on strike are losing pay but “the train companies do not lose any revenue from the action as they are being indemnified by the Government.”

He added: “As it is also the Government who is using taxpayers’ money to prolong the dispute I would also suggest you approach the Government to reimburse the Royal British Legion for any losses incurred.”

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