Poppy Appeal aims to raise £1m-plus
Devon hopes to harness the popularity of screen epic War Horse and the Military Wives Choir in a bid to smash the Poppy Appeal fundraising record.
The Royal British Legion plans to use the county's two recent phenomenally successful arts exports to remind the public of the service personnel who made "the ultimate sacrifice".
The 2012 appeal, which aims to top £1 million this year as part of a £40 million national target, was launched yesterday with a simple but "poignant" ceremony at Dartington Hall.
Internationally-renowned horsewoman Lucinda McAlpine passed through an archway on horseback amid a shower of poppies before presenting a single bloom to the High Sheriff of Devon, Robin Barlow.
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The Military Wives choir, which formed at the Royal Marines base, at Chivenor, North Devon, then performed the song which propelled them to fame: Wherever You Are.
Legion spokesman in the county, Peter Williams, said War Horse, adapted from the Michael Morpurgo book, was chosen as it was "fresh in people's minds".
"Every year we try to have a theme on which to base the launch," he added. "These things are always slightly poignant and always tug at the heart strings – it was simple but highly appropriate."
Also part of the ceremony was Cpl Dennis Pope, from the Royal Wessex Yeomanry, the unit made famous by the film. Plymouth soprano Poppy Mills, 15, then sang her single, Remember.