Poppy appeal ‘lost money’ over pin badge shortages

Peter Barras says the shortage of lapel poppies meant that so much more money could have been raised.
Peter Barras says the shortage of lapel poppies meant that so much more money could have been raised.

A veteran who has sold poppies for 10 years says thousands of pounds has been potentially lost during this year’s collection because of a shortage of sought-after pin badges.

The metal lapel poppies, which bear the date ‘2018’, were specially made to commemorate the 100 years since the end of the First World War.

Peter Barras says he was allocated a small number of the badges, which sold out quickly.

But his repeated requests to the Royal British Legion for more were ignored.

Buyers were asked to make a £2 contribution for the pin badges, compared to any amount for a regular paper poppy.

And 79-year-old Mr Barras, who served with the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in the late 1950s, said he was forced to turn away hundreds of disappointed people at his usual selling point at Pinderfields Hospital.

He said: “It’s been ridiculous because we could not get the pin badges and we’ve been losing money.

“We were wanting to sell them but we couldn’t, it was frustrating. Others selling poppies have told me the same. We kept asking for more but never got any.

“They are a collector’s item and all of this money could be going to our heroes.

“All we wanted was better service from the Royal British Legion, it was very patchy.”

Mr Barras, of Low Moor Crescent, Hall Green, says he was able to raise around £6,500 this year, but says this is thousands down on previous years.

“Unless there’s a big improvement next year, I won’t be doing it again,” he added.

The Royal British has admitted that the shortage was felt across the country because of such high demand.

A spokesperson said: “Seven million poppy lapel pins were distributed across the country but some areas did sell out quickly due to unprecedented demand.

“However, people were still able to donate to the poppy appeal and a range of popular stock items were available during this year’s appeal.”