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For many years Marks and Spencer has upported The Royal British Legion’s work with current and former Service personnel and their families. 

With the centenary of the beginning of the First World War,2014 was an extremely poignant year for the Legion. This year is of course no less important for us and so it is brilliant that in 2015 the M&S jewellery Poppy Collection will reach the incredible milestone of having raised £2 million since its launch in 2012.  

With a total of nine products in The Poppy Collection, there is a wealth of options to suit the tastes of all who visit M&S stores throughout the Poppy Appeal and want to show support for the Armed Forces community. The consistent feedback we receive is how the Collection – including key pieces such as the enamel brooches worn this year by the great and good from the world of entertainment – are a fitting symbol of recognition and respect. 

M&S are donating all profits from the sale of The Poppy Collection to the Legion and funds raised will go towards our grant programme which is designed to help with a variety of needs, including support in employment, independent living, mobility and crisis grants which run throughout the year. Crucially, it will continue to help former and current Service personnel – people like Pauline Cooksey – Live On.  

Pauline, 57, from Morpeth, served four and a half years in the Royal Navy from 1974 until 1978. After leaving, she had several jobs including air traffic control but began to suffer a range of health problems which left her unable to earn a sufficient living.  For years, she survived on very little and, at one point, she struggled on less than £80 a week and weighed less than eight stone as she couldn’t afford to eat. 

Things changed for Pauline though when she moved to Morpeth four years ago and she contacted the Legion who initially arranged for her new council cottage to be decorated. 

In 2013 she got back in touch with us and the Legion’s Independent Living Team helped secure the benefits she had been entitled to, but until then had been out of reach.  

Pauline said: “The Legion has been awesome for me. Not only did they give me financial support but also emotional support – I felt they really cared for me. I was at a very low point in my life but the Legion gave me hope and the belief that I could recover from this. Their advice was second to none.” 

Alongside the support provided to our Independent Living Team, during 2015 M&S also offered 50 work placements for former Service personnel as part of their Marks & Start work experience programme. This trial – an exciting new development in our relationship – continues to run in Yorkshire and Essex. These locations were selected due to high number of former Service personnel in the area and the fact that the local stores have strong existing links with the Legion.  We are also delighted to be one of the beneficiaries of their new customer card, Sparks, which has just launched and allows customers to choose the Legion to receive 1p every time they shop at M&S.  

The support offered by M&S makes such an impact to the Legion’s work with the Service community. As our welfare services continue to be needed year-round and we enter a significant period of commemoration beginning with the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, we are confident that our partnership is as strong as ever.