Much to the delight of Paxfold residents, Stuart McDonald moved into the sheltered scheme one year ago and instantly became a popular figure, his poppy festooned trike drawing both attention and smiles. Stuart tells us about his passion for volunteering with the Royal British Legion.
Q: What made you decide to decorate your trike with hundreds of poppies?
I come from a military family and was born in a British military hospital in Germany. Growing up I lived with my parents who were stationed in a number of places, and my memories include being airlifted out of Yemen and living through the troubles in Northern Ireland.
I’ve ridden bikes all my life and ten years ago when my father died I bought a trike and decorated it with poppies. I joined the Harrow branch of the Royal British Legion as a volunteer as well as their bike rider’s branch. Every time I see someone smile at my poppy trike, it reminds me of my father. I’m so proud to do what I do for the Poppy Appeal campaign.
Q: Tell us more about your volunteering?
Nowadays and most importantly I jointly run the Poppy Appeal campaign covering Harrow, Stanmore, Kenton, Kingsbury and Ruislip. I also help to raise awareness by doing shows and by being a standard bearer for the British Legion at funerals. The Poppy Appeal campaign runs for a fortnight, starting on the last Saturday in October and ends with Remembrance Day, falling this year on Sunday 12th November. However, for us as organisers, we start preparations as early as July. We organise delivery of wreaths and poppies to street collectors, local schools, churches and lots of community groups and individuals. Last year in Harrow we raised over £40,000 for ex-servicemen and women and their families.
Q: How can HCHA’s tenants get involved in the Remembrance Day Service or Poppy Appeal campaign?
I help organise the annual British Legion parade at Harrow Civic Centre which includes representation from the Mayor’s office, members of the emergency services, and local community. If any of HCHA’s tenants would like to attend this year’s Remembrance Day Service Parade and would like me to reserve a seat for them or their friends and family, please contact me on the Harrow Poppy Appeal line on 07845 744840.
You can also call the same number if you would like to order a Poppy Appeal collection box (and poppies of course) for your scheme or a coffee morning event.