THIS year’s Poppy Appeal in Henley has raised a record £20,000 with money still coming in.
The money came from street and house-to-house collections, charity boxes, donations and fund-raising events.
Brigadier Malcolm Page, president of the Royal British Legion’s Henley and Peppard branch, said he was delighted with the result.
He said: “I’ve been involved for 14 to 15 years now and the total has gone up steadily each year but the rise this year has been dramatic.”
He put the appeal’s success down to public awareness caused by the war in Afghanistan and new appeal organiser Shirley Lees.
Mrs Lees, who lives in Boathouse Reach with husband David, was helped by about 60 volunteers, including the town’s army and air cadets.
She said: “The key is having good people around you, which luckily I have. I get a great amount of support.”
The top collector was once again Brian Hughes, who has collected more than £45,000 since he started in 1995.
Mayor Elizabeth Hodgkin, who is leading calls for a new war memorial to the town’s “forgotten” soldiers, said the Legion’s achievement showed a growing recognition of the sacrifices made in wartime.
She said: “It’s a fantastic result and I’m thrilled for them. I don’t know whether there’s a connection with the memorial campaign but I do think people are showing more of an interest.
“You can just tell by the number of people that came to the Remembrance Day service — everyone’s so aware and the Legion is so well known publicly.
“It has been building for some years now and it’s only going to grow as we approach the centenary of the First World War.”
Councillor Hodgkin’s campaign was inspired by an exhibition at Holy Trinity Church called Lest We Forget, about 73 servicemen who died in the First World War.
All had connections to the Henley area but none appears on any local memorials.
Woodcote resident and Holy Trinity sexton Mike Willoughby, who compiled the exhibition, said: “I’m a great supporter of the Legion. I’ve spoken to them since the exhibition about being on board to mark the centenary in 2014.”