Live On: Poppy Appeal is launched

Students at Woodseats School  in Sheffield have done research into former teacher, Private AW Sheil , who was killed at the Battle of the Somme.
Students at Woodseats School in Sheffield have done research into former teacher, Private AW Sheil , who was killed at the Battle of the Somme.
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Alexander Walter Shiell was still a young man when he was killed at the Battle of the Somme alongside hundreds of other soldiers in the York and Lancaster Regiment.

Yet his memory lives on at the Sheffield primary school where he had taught for more than a decade before World War One claimed him.

Pupils at Woodseats Primary School today put the finishing touches to a display of 440 hand-made poppies in memory of Private AW Shiell as a vigil in central London marked the start of the Royal British Legion’s annual fundraising campaign.

Woodseats Primary headteacher Sinead Fox: “The pupils have found it fascinating to research the life story of a young man who once taught at their own school and then died alongside so many others at the Battle of the Somme. It has really brought home to them the history of World War One and its impact on real people.”

Pop star Joss Stone pledged her support for this year’s Poppy Appeal by joining soldiers at today’s vigil.

The soul singer was among the first to take part in a vigil at the Cenotaph, alongside former Royal Marine Commando Pete Dunning, who lost both legs when he was struck by a bomb in Afghanistan.

The watch was inspired by images of the repatriation of the Unknown Soldier in 1920, when guards kept a vigil at the coffin as a mark of respect.

Speaking at the start of her shift at the Cenotaph, Ms Stone, 27, said: “There isn’t one war that is more horrific than another. These men are incredibly brave and a lot of them have laid down their lives so that we can live in a peaceful environment.”

The singer, who clutched a photo of her great-great-grandfather Private Alfred Ernest Stenning during her stint at the memorial, was one of several supporters including military personnel, to take turns on shift in the sunrise-to-sunset event. It comes in the centenary year of the outbreak of the First World War.

The soul star has teamed up with guitarist Jeff Beck to record this year’s official charity single, No Man’s Land (Green Fields of France).

It is estimated that around 45 million poppies will be distributed by the Royal British Legion (RBL) and its supporters as part of this year’s campaign.

Mr Dunning, 29, from Wallasey in Merseyside, said: “The support that the Legion has offered me since my accident has been great. They are helping me to live my life as best I can by making my day-to-day living easier.”

In the year that marks 100 years since the birth of the poppy as a symbol of Remembrance and hope, The RBL is encouraging the nation to support the Poppy Appeal for the memory of the fallen and the future of the living.

Debbie Harding, area manager for The RBL in Yorkshire, said: “As we mark the centenary of the First World War, it’s as important as ever to wear a poppy and remember the sacrifices and commitment made by our Armed Forces both then and now. The message behind this year’s Poppy Appeal is Live On – to the memory of the fallen and future of the living, which captures perfectly why it’s so important to donate to the appeal and wear a poppy. Every donation received will make a real difference to the lives of service men and women, veterans and their loved ones.”