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Remembrance Day gives us an opportunity to reflect on the great work of our longstanding charity partner The Royal British Legion, and how we all individually can contribute to a brilliant cause on such a significant date. 
As one of the UK’s biggest retailers, we have an important part to play in helping the nation express its support for the Legion’s work through the Poppy Appeal, a fantastic cause that we are proud to be part of. Many of our customers and colleagues are directly impacted by the work that the Legion does, making our support even more meaningful. 

I became involved with the charity in 2009, with the launch of our poppy brooch, which became an instant success with our customers. We have now extended our range to include lapel pins, cufflinks and keyrings. The range has grown every year with 10 products now in The Poppy Collection, which means that whatever your style we have a poppy to match. I was delighted that 2016 was our best ever year. Since 2009 M&S has raised an amazing £4.5 million for The Legion through the sale of our Poppy Collection products with all profits going directly to the important work of the Legion.

But, the poppy is not just about Remembrance, it's also about providing support for the Armed Forces community of all ages throughout the year. The Legion’s work is outstanding and perhaps many people do not realise the extraordinary support it offers to those in need quietly year on year. The Legion works tirelessly behind the scenes to provide much needed welfare services such as finance, recovery, respite, employment, independent living, and care, to the UK’s Armed Forces community, which includes serving personnel, veterans, and their families. 

The important work of the Royal British Legion doesn’t stop after November 11 and neither should our donations. That’s why we are committed to fundraising for the Legion all year round, always looking for new imaginative ways to beat our last fundraising figure. 

This is the fourth year M&S employees have taken on a fundraising challenge – to raise an additional £400,000 this year for the Legion. We take this commitment seriously (and with a dash of humour!); last year I took part in the gruelling 460km Pedal to Paris ride with 90 of the M&S team, while this year 100 M&S colleagues tackled the BMF mud run – we’re always on the lookout for the next challenge we can take on! A fantastic team build, both events brought together all areas of the business under one common goal – to raise money for the RBL. 

Our customers are also an important part of our fundraising; Sparks card holders who have chosen to support the Legion raise money each time they shop. For every pound you spend, we donate a penny to the cause. Together, we’ve raised over £200,000 pounds for the Legion. 

But, while this gives us a chance to reflect on our fundraising to date, we set our sights even higher for this year’s Poppy Appeal and we’re currently planning something special for the Centenary Year in 2018. 

The 2017 Poppy Collection® is available at www.marksandspencer.com and in selected M&S stores.