Cambridgeshire veteran one of first to wear new Royal British Legion Poppy - which is completely recyclable

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Paul Hartley represented Team UK at Invictus Games

An RAF veteran from Cambridgeshire has become one of the first people to wear the new Royal British Legion Poppy, as the annual campaign is launched.

Paul Hartley from Huntingdon – known to his family and friends as ‘Midge’ – served in the RAF for 27 years before being medically discharged.

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This year’s Royal British Legion (RBL) Poppy has been given a re-design, and is plastic free, being made of paper, and is recyclable at home.

Paul Hartley and the new PoppyPaul Hartley and the new Poppy
Paul Hartley and the new Poppy

It is the first redesign of a Poppy in a generation, and has been launched today.

The annual Poppy Appeal has particular significance for Paul, who was diagnosed with Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), a degenerative neurological condition, causing lower limb weakness, muscle stiffness & involuntary spasms, all affecting Midge’s mobility.

But thanks to the Poppy Appeal, Paul competed in the 2022 Invictus Games at the Hague, gaining himself two PB’s in the hand-bike, and being awarded the silver medal as part of the wheelchair rugby team. He decided to apply again this year for Team UK in Dusseldorf after being diagnosed with scoliosis since last year’s Games. He won a bronze medal and competed in wheelchair basketball and rugby.

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Paul said: “The Poppy Appeal means everything to me, because it gave me the opportunity to represent Team UK at the Invictus Games as part of my recovery. I love the new plastic-free version, but while the poppies have changed, the meaning stays the same. Wearing your poppy shows you care, and that the service and sacrifice of our Armed Forces community will never be forgotten."

The launch of the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal marks the start of the national period of Remembrance, when the nation wears the poppy and reflects on the service and sacrifice of the Armed Forces.

Members of the public will be able to get their poppy – the original version or the new plastic-free version - from thousands of volunteers across the UK, or from major supermarkets.

All funds raised from the Poppy Appeal will be used by Royal British Legion to support serving personnel, veterans, and their families in a range of ways, from help with the cost of living, mental wellbeing and housing, to support with recovery after trauma or illness.