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I’m 100% behind Sun’s poppy campaign… without the Legion vets I know would not be here, says VC hero Johnson Beharry


THE bravest of the brave tonight backed The Sun’s campaign to save the Poppy Appeal by making safe donations to remember the fallen.

Victoria Cross recipient Johnson Beharry, 41, led war heroes and wounded veterans urging Brits to do their best to wear a poppy with pride.

It comes after we told how the ranks of volunteer Royal British Legion poppy sellers have been cut by a third this year — by 12,000 — due to Covid.

Special forces, Royal Marines, soldiers and cops joined forces to salute our drive to boost safe donations to save the appeal.

Colour Sergeant Beharry, who saved comrades’ lives in two ambushes in Iraq in 2004, said: “I am 100 per cent behind this campaign. The money the public give to the Royal British Legion does amazing things.

“Without it, a lot of veterans I know wouldn’t be here today.

“But the Poppy Appeal is about more than just giving. It’s a time when the public remember. This is a difficult year as we can’t go out there and shake a tin as we usually do, but we can get poppies online.”

Former Household Cavalry Lance Corporal of Horse Chris Finney, 36, won a George Cross in Iraq for rescuing a comrade from a burning vehicle hit by US warplanes in error in 2003.

He said: “I totally support The Sun’s campaign. The poppy is such a recognisable symbol.

“So many people draw a huge amount of strength from it, so to see it struggling is a terrible shame. When everyone stops on Remembrance Sunday it is a really positive time for reflection, to think about those that aren’t here any more.”

Former bomb disposal expert Major Peter Norton, 57, also won a George Cross in Iraq.

He risked his life to save others despite losing a leg after a blast killed four US soldiers in Baghdad in 2005.

Backing our campaign, he said: “Seeing people wear the poppy means a great deal to veterans. It shows the service we gave wasn’t for nothing.

“Wearing a poppy allows us to reflect on the freedoms that we enjoy today, that we owe to those that are not here.”

Another George Cross winner and bomb disposal expert, Captain Kim Hughes, 41, added: “We can still wear a poppy in lockdown. The fact people donate to do so is phenomenal, especially the young.”

Cpt Hughes, who defused Taliban devices in Afghanistan’s Helmand province to rescue comrades in 2009, added: “It’s all about remembering sacrifices of the guys and girls killed in conflicts.

“If it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have the lives and the freedoms we have now.”

Ben Parkinson, 36, the most seriously injured soldier to survive the Afghan War, has vowed to lay a wreath on Remembrance Day, Covid or not. The para lost his legs, broke his back and suffered serious brain damage in a Taliban blast in Helmand in 2006.

He was told he would never leave hospital but got out in 2009 and has sold poppies every year since.

He said: “I may not be able to sell poppies this year but I will lay a wreath or a cross at the cenotaph in Doncaster.”

Hero Royal Marine Ben McBean, 33, lost his left arm and right leg in a Taliban bombing in 2008. He overcame his injuries and ran 31 miles through London in the shape of a poppy to raise money.

He said: “The appeal unites us and we need that now more than ever. We have to be proud of the armed forces going out there and putting their necks on the line.

“I could have been a name on a plaque right now, but I am one of the lucky ones who made it back and I’ll support the legion for the rest of my life. So, carry on, like every other year. I don’t think Covid should stop anything.”

Former Chief Supt Jim Beaton, 77, won a George Cross for saving Princess Anne’s life when she was attacked by a deranged gunman in 1974.

Later, he regularly escorted the Queen at Remembrance Day parades in London.

He said: “People should try their best to go on the internet to get a poppy and make a donation. It means so much, especially to some of the older ones who might feel deserted in these difficult times.

“Remembrance Day is a chance to come together and think back on their sacrifices.”

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