Go the #Extramile for Scottish Poppy Appeal

You drop your hard-earned pennies in the tin and wear your poppy with pride. Job done, right? Wrong!

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 10th November 2016, 4:59 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 5:01 pm
Heroic effort...by World War Two veteran Ian Forsyth MBE in raising funds but you can also go the #extramile this year.
Heroic effort...by World War Two veteran Ian Forsyth MBE in raising funds but you can also go the #extramile this year.

For Poppyscotland, remembrance is a 365 days a year campaign, culminating in November with the annual poppy collection.

And this year, it is asking people to go the #extramile to help the thousands of veterans and their families which it helps yearly.

Poppy Scotland spokeswoman Susannah Nichol explained: “The Armed Forces community regularly goes the extra mile in the line of duty.

Support...was what Steve Beedie really needed when he left the Royal Signals and he and his family ended up homeless on civvy street.

“This year we’re asking people to go the #extramile for them.”

If you need any encouragement, MBE Ian Forsyth’s story will surely convince the hardest heart.

The 93-year-old has been a collector for more than 40 years and is now the area organiser covering Hamilton and High Blantyre.

But he has first hand experience of war too. A Normandy Veteran, he served with 15th/19th King’s Royal Hussars in The Royal Armoured Corps.

Support...was what Steve Beedie really needed when he left the Royal Signals and he and his family ended up homeless on civvy street.

Ian said: “If anyone had asked me 60 years ago what I thought about remembrance, I’d have given an angry response. Now it’s different.

“Remembering brings back a lot of sorrow. Today, still, I see the faces of those who didn’t make it.

“I had a very good friend in the Army during the Second World War.

“Sitting in the back of a tank with me, he said: “I think this is the last battle.”

“He and his crew were dead within two days.

“My commander had a baby girl whom he never met – he was killed before he had the chance. I often think about that little girl, who will be a lady of age now.

“Another friend, Tommy, volunteered to do one of my jobs – he walked into an ambush and was killed.”

Last year under Ian’s leadership, his local area raised almost £41,000 for the Scottish Poppy Appeal.

Since starting a Garden of Remembrance 26 years ago, more than £500,000 has been raised.

Ian now acts as a befriender to the Polish ex-service community and has been awarded the Knights Cross of Poland.

In addition, he organises the annual Festival of Remembrance in Hamilton and is the President of the Royal British Legion Scotland Hamilton Branch.

Ian also finds time to be an active member of the Poppyscotland Glasgow and South Western Committee.

In recognition of his many years of dedication, Ian is now to receive the President’s Award.

And no-one could argue he doesn’t merit it.

He added: “As I grow older I think about the results of war and the families that are left behind, as well as remembering my comrades.

“ I think about the young lads in Afghanistan today – young people and their families are still suffering.

“What’s the point of war? No-one ever wins. It all brings sadness.

“Dreams are lost, hopes are lost then despair creeps in. It is so sad and there is so little you can do.

“Remembrance Day doesn’t happen one day a year – it’s 365 days a year.”

One of Poppyscotland’s many duties every year is helping veterans get back on their feet on civvy street.

Iraq war veteran Steve Beedie is a prime example of how your poppy donation can really help change lives.

Steve fell into rent arrears following his discharge from the army on medical grounds and some misguided advice from a housing association.

Having served in the Royal Signals, the 30-year-old left in 2005 after suffering from post traumatic stress disorder – brought on by events he had witnessed in Kosovo and Iraq.

Steve was just 18 and serving in Kosovo when he witnessed a teenager being blown up by a landmine.

He went on to serve in Iraq but was medically discharged, suffering from PTSD.

Steve, his wife Lyndsey and their children returned to the north of Scotland but things went from bad to worse.

He was unable to work full-time and found the adjustment to civilian life immensely difficult – at one point seriously contemplating suicide.

There was also a series of housing problems beyond the family’s control.

Their first home was a basic rented property but, when the rent increased, the local authority recommended the family present themselves as homeless, temporarily housing them in a neighbouring town.

Sadly, the council later claimed the family had made themselves intentionally homeless and said, as such, they would not be eligible for permanent housing.

A grant from Poppyscotland helped the Beedie family clear their rent arrears and settle into a new home. The children now attend a local school and Steve is in full-time employment, working off-shore.

Steve said: “With the help from Poppyscotland we are back on track.

“It was a big turning point for me and my family when we were at our lowest.

“It was there for us when no-one else was and we are all very grateful for that.”

Steve is now writing a 
book about his experiences and aims to raise awareness to help other veterans through social networking groups and public speaking events.

So before you drop your donation in the tin, think about who you’re helping and go the #extramile.