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Thursday April 14, 2016

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Poppy Day brings community closer together By Kelly Hennessy Cook Strait News Intern

The Annual Poppy Day Street Appeal is a day of remembrance and sharing on the part of both the volunteers and those donating, as they spend time connecting over personal ties to the cause. Poppy Day takes place this Friday, with volunteers selling poppies at stations across the capital’s eastern suburbs, with 100 per cent of the proceeds going to the Wellington Returned Services Association (RSA) Welfare Fund. It is the RSA’s most important appeal, and is essential to providing continuing support to current and former service members and their families. These efforts are made possible by Maupuia resident Glenda Ramsay, who took over the organisation of Kilbirnie, Rongotai and Lyall Bay volunteers this year. Glenda replaced Marie Byrne who had spent a number of years working on behalf of the Wellington RSA. While finding volunteers has been a challenge in recent years, Glenda has found that most volunteers have some relationship with either Anzac Day specifically, or the armed services in general. “Their grandfather or father has gone off to war, or they have some

sort of connection,” she said. Many of her volunteers are veterans themselves, such as Private Phil Wallace, 10 Company RNZAS Corps, who served in Korea between 1956 and 1957 and CPO Ken Ramsay, who served on HMNZS Canterbury in Mururoa Atoll in 1974. Students from St Patrick’s College Town and Wellington College are also volunteering in support of the appeal, while a number of local businesses have offered their support by having donation buckets and poppies available. Glenda herself became involved with Poppy Day 35-years-ago, when she worked on it while a member of the New Zealand Defence Force. “I have continued because I believe that this sector, the vets, only have this one opportunity a year to do fundraising for their welfare, so it is important.” Glenda said she and volunteers find themselves regaled by the public with stories of their own connection to the cause. “Volunteers end up talking to whole time, because people use this as an opportunity to talk about their own connection to World War I and II,” she said. Volunteers around Wellington have pinned 80,000 poppies this year, she said.

Glenda Ramsay has organised volunteers for Poppy Day across Wellington’s eastern suburbs this year. PHOTO CREDIT: Nikki Papatsoumas • The symbolic significance of the poppy is derived from the fact that poppies were the first plant to bloom on the disturbed ground around soldiers’ graves during World War I. • While the UK, Canada and Australia, New Zealand first held Poppy Day in association with Armistice Day on 11 November, 1921, the New Zealand shipment of poppies was too late,

leaving the country to concentrate the appeal around Anzac Day instead. • In 1931 the New Zealand RSA began creating its own poppies, made by disabled returning veterans in Auckland and Christchurch. After three years of being constructed in China and Australia, poppy production returned to New Zealand in 2015.

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Welcoming American intern Hi, my name is Kelly Hennessy and I will be an intern at the Cook Strait News for the next eight weeks. I was born and raised in Idaho, A mer ica a nd have just

graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont, where I studied history and political science. I have previously written for magazines back home and am looking for-

ward to covering your local news stories. This is my first time in New Zealand and I can’t wait to spend more time in Wellington’s southern and eastern suburbs.

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