The Poppy, the RBL and the men

Everyone is aware of the Poppy appeal but how much do you really know about the volunteers?

The Royal British Legion are highly visible in the weeks leading up to Remembrance but do we really know the volunteers and why they are there?

Many are ex-forces or related to an ex-serviceman/woman. And want to give something back.

Tony Francis, the Parade Marshall for the Peterborough Branch of the Legion, joined the Army at 21 because “It was something I always wanted to do.”

Tony became a regimental Police officer for the Royal East Anglian’s. “Apart from my kids it was the best experience of my life,” says Tony, “The military has always been my passion I joined the sea cadets as a child and haven’t regretted it one bit.” Joining the sea cadets seemed a stark contest to the army cadets then the Army.

I was too young to join the army cadets and was too impatient to wait so joined the sea cadets i enjoyed it so stayed till i was old enough to enlist into the army.”

Tony goes on to say “It taught me self-confidence independence respect and was a good stepping stone as to how i live my life now.”

In 1996 Tony was given a medical discharge due to an injury sustained during a training exercise. After this the Legion helped Tony. “They help me get back on my feet i wanted to give something back,” says Tony.

I was homeless, out of work and in Prison,” he goes on. The RBL helped him get back on his feet “I will be forever grateful.”

Talking about this years Poppu Appeal Tony Said “It was the best one i have done The atmosphere and support from the public and fellow volunteers from the day of the launch, was absolutely incredible.”

Born in Peterborough, Tony found his way back and can be found working security on a Saturday night. Dealing with drunks may not be all that interesting or dun but working security elsewhere Tony has seen some sights.

|Once he chased a man down Westgate who had nicked a bottle of wine all the way from Bridge street.

Another time a man tried to kidnap his own child outside Marks and Spencer’s. And it wasn’t the police who cornered the man who stole the Poppy tin from the Great Northern Hotel, it was Tony. I think it is fair to say Ton

Personally Tony enjoys music, Photography. “Being a dj I have a very wide choice in music from classical to rock and everything else in-between, but one of my favourites of all time will have to be jagged edge ..Walked out of heaven absolutely love that song.”

DVDS are also a passion of Tony’s “as an avid collector of DVDs of which i have over 500 at  the moment my favourite would have to be the girl with the dragon tattoo trilogy original versions.”

y has an interesting life and is an Interesting person to know.

My main hobby as such is volunteering i get so much pleasure out of it.” says Tony. For the Royal British Legion he is branch secretary, committee member and Parade Marshal.

Tony is also a member of the Royal Voluntary Service. He first started coming in as a customer as part of Hero’s contact at RVS Senior stop. Hero’s Contact is rum once a week alongside the Royal British Legion for ex-servicemen and women to socialise together and access welfare if and when needed. From here Tony joined Senior Stop (a café for older people to get a cheap cuppa, a chat and welfare.) Here Tony helps with admin work in the office, the car service and volunteers behind the tea bar when needed.

Tony isn’t the most talkative person socially, when being interviewed or otherwise but is one of the most giving people out there. Mind you this may be to keep his time occupied. When talking about the future Tony said “My plans which is now my only goal is to have a facility like no other that will continue to provide and support veterans and their families.”