Meet Royal British Legion poppy collector Mirza Shahzad

THE 2021 Poppy Appeal across Wales has launched and this year, as the charity marks its centenary, the Royal British Legion (RBL) is celebrating the return of its collectors.

This includes Mirza Shahzad, who collects alongside his Muslim youth group in South Wales, including Penarth, and who is part of 10 generations of poppy collectors brought together by RBL to represent each decade of the charity’s history

The 36-year-old, representing the 1980s, is regional co-ordinator of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA) for the south west of the UK.

He has been supporting the Poppy Appeal since moving to the UK from Pakistan in 2012. AMYA members strongly believe in serving humanity, and Mirza is passionate about the RBL because of the extensive support it provides to the armed forces community.

Mr. Shahzad said: “I’m originally from Pakistan but I live in the UK, so I regard the British Military as our heroes.

“AMYA takes a lot of pride in supporting the RBL, and by collecting for the Poppy Appeal we help the families of those serving men and women.

“I love to see the responses people on the street give when they see an Asian person collecting for the Poppy Appeal.

“It gives us a great feeling that we’re doing something very positive by standing with our armed forces.

“It’s amazing to see people buy 50p poppies for £10 and expect no change, and it’ll be great to have the AMYA community back with the rest of the poppy collectors, after we weren’t able to collect as we usually would last year.”

Poppy Appeal collection boxes have come in many shapes and sizes over the years.

The poppy-shaped box (held by Mr Shahzad in the above photo) features the initials HF for Haig Fund. It was manufactured by Angal, a well-known manufacturer of charity collection boxes, and dates between 1978 and 1983.

He is also wearing a limited edition ‘khadi’ poppy, issued in 2018 to honour 74,000 Indian soldiers who lost their lives fighting for Britain in the First World War. It is made from the same linen worn by Mahatma Gandhi.

Community Fundraising Manager for the RBL in Wales, Lynne Woodyatt, said: “This year, as we mark our centenary, we are proud to be celebrating the outstanding contribution of all our Poppy Appeal collectors.

“Every poppy counts, which is why getting our Poppy Appeal collectors back out in local communities across Wales is so important. As the impact of Covid-19 continues to leave some members of the Armed Forces community in urgent need of our help, your support is as crucial as ever.

“We cannot help them without you which is why we are urging the people of the north east to look out for their local collector and donate. Your contribution will make a real difference to the lives of those in our Armed Forces community who have given so much.

“The RBL was formed in the aftermath of the First World War to fight for the rights of those who had given so much and come back to so little. Today, we continue to stand with the Armed Forces community, supporting them in the face of hardships, injuries and bereavements.”

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