SKIPTON and District Poppy Appeal is hoping to better the £70,000 it raised over the past year for the Royal British Legion.

Members of local armed forces group, along with council and church dignitaries attended the launch of the appeal in Craven Court Shopping Centre, this morning.

Among them were Councillor Paul Whitaker , chairman of Craven District Council, and Skipton mayor Councillor Peter Madeley.

They were joined by Settle town mayor Councillor Dan Balsamini.

Reverend Roger Lowens said a short prayer which was followed by the Last Post and Reveille from buglers from the Yorkshire Volunteer Regiment.

Many members of the public gathered to mark the occasion and observed a minute silence to remember the fallen in past conflicts.

Chairman of the Skipton branch of the RBL, George Martin, said The Royal British Legion encouraged the nation to recognise the unseen service and sacrifice of our armed forces, past and present.

He said throughout this year’s Poppy Appeal, the Legion will be shining a spotlight on the many hidden contributions made by the armed forces’ community every day. Alongside members of service personnel and representatives from the Legion,

Cllr Whitaker said; “The Skipton & Craven District has raised just over £70,000 in the 2018/2019 year and, nationwide, more than £50 million has been raised in support of this very worthy cause.

“Locally, all credit must be given to the Poppy Appeal team and the support they receive from the volunteers who assist with the preparation, delivery and collection of the poppy boxes and also with the counting procedure. “

Jean Phillip, Poppy Appeal organiser added: “The 2019/2020 Appeal year will, again, be very special as it will embrace the 75th anniversaries of VE Day and VJ Day and also the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

“The Poppy Appeal team will be involved in all these important events and our aim will be to make it another successful fund-raising year.

“It is important that we thank all the businesses and individuals who have given us so much help and support which has enabled this District, over the past five years, to raise the amount collected by 49 per cent and we are most grateful for the generosity of the people of Craven and also those who visit our wonderful area.“

The Royal British Legion Skipton Branch Chairman George Martin added: “During the Poppy Appeal this year we want to raise awareness of the less well-known work our armed forces do, and the unseen sacrifices and hidden contributions they make that many of us simply don’t get to see.

“From combating piracy and providing support during natural disasters, to working in collaboration with organisations such as the police to keep the nation safe, our armed forces are supporting us daily in a huge variety of ways. Life in the armed forces comes with unique challenges for those serving, and for their families, yet they are here for us every single day and always have been, so the Legion is here for them whenever they need us.”