PoppyScotland is hoping 2018 will prove to be its largest ever annual fundraising campaign.
Taking place in the lead up to the Armistice Day centenary tomorrow (Sunday), five million poppies have been distributed across Scotland by an army of volunteers who ensure that poppies and tins are displayed in shops, businesses and schools.
Money raised during the Scottish Poppy Appeal is used to provide vital, life-changing support to the Armed Forces community living in Scotland.
And overseeing the campaign is Gordon Michie, head of fundraising at PoppyScotland whose Edinburgh headquarters at New Haig House neighbour the Poppy Factory.
He is hoping this year’s special Armistice centenary poppies and a 1918 Poppy Pledge will bring in even more money this year.
He said: “More than 160 organisations have signed up to the pledge to raise £1918 in this special anniversary year.
“It’s our most ambitious fundraising campaign to date and we hope it will bring in an additional £300,000 for the Poppy Appeal.”
Gordon, a Fifer who served in the RAF from 1988 to 1995, first volunteered with PoppyScotland ten years ago.
He was appointed two and a half years ago and feels like he is back in service again.
“I was only 25 when I came out of the RAF so I never viewed myself as a veteran,” he said.
“When I started volunteering, I began wearing my veterans badge.
“Now I make sure I wear it with pride daily.”
While Gordon is now employed by PoppyScotland, it’s clear that the role is more than a job to him.
He’s immensely proud of the 10,000 volunteers and 450 leaders who amass every year to ensure the Poppy Appeal is a success the length and breadth of the country.
He said: “The volunteers represent PoppyScotland across the country.
“They are the people who help us raise just under £3 million every year from the Poppy Appeal to help support our Armed Forces community.
“Everyone – from our business sponsors to my Auntie Jean – plays their part in raising those funds.”
Of course, the Lady Haig Poppy Factory also plays its part by providing enough poppies every year.
And Gordon is in little doubt that it has a special place in people’s hearts.
He said: “It’s a very special place which is pretty humbling to visit.
“The factory works hand in hand with us to produce all the poppies we need each year for the appeal.
“It also serves to educate people about the sacrifices made by so many in conflicts around the world.”
It’s largely thanks to the atmosphere in the factory that PoppyScotland is also launching its own mobile education bus next year.
Gordon added: “We want to take the Poppy Factory experience out on the road by turning a lorry into a classroom. Not all schools can come to Edinburgh so we want to take the factory to them from April 2019.”
To find out more about the work PoppyScotland does, visit the website at www.poppyscotland.org.uk.