Poppy Appeal launch
PUBLISHED: 14:58 10 November 2010
Relatives of a rifleman killed in Afghanistan helped launch this year's Poppy Appeal as hundreds stood in silence.
Stephen Brown, from St Paul’s Cray, Orpington — whose son James Brown was killed by suicide bombers while serving in Sangin, Afghanistan, almost a year ago — was supported by his daughters Samantha, 21, Stephanie, 22 and Ellie, 17 in Bromley town centre on Saturday.
Hayley Morris, 19, Rifleman Brown’s girlfriend also watched as Mr Brown, 51, released 300 balloons in memory of those who have fallen in Afghanistan and Iraq and 30 white doves to represent all armed forces casualties since World War I.
The poignant service held in Market Square was a part of a day-long programme held in the borough — the only one of its kind in the country — to launch the 70th Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal, which this year supports the ‘Afghan generation’.
Mr Brown said: “To stand up here today in front of all these people and be part of this event to launch the Poppy Appeal just makes me so proud to say I am the father of James Brown.
“It is incredibly hard still, especially with the one year anniversary approaching and Christmas which is a time of families, but we are coping as a family.
“When I think something is hard now I just think of what James went through and it pulls me through, nothing can be as hard as what he faced. He pops in to my head constantly throughout the day, every day, but that’s fine because I never want to forget him.
“To see all the people here today supporting the appeal and what Bromley has done as a town is a great tribute to all those who have lost their lives in action and those still serving.
“James was fantastic and so are all those boys. They are a different breed, putting their lives on the line to give us the freedoms we enjoy today.
“Today I have met and talked with many people about James and this year’s appeal, some simply wanted to shake my hand and thank James for his service, it is quite something.”
His proud sister, Stephanie, shed a tear as Mayor of Bromley George Taylor started proceedings calling on those gathered to wear their poppies with pride.
After the service she said: “It is very important and lovely for us to know that people will always remember him. We are so proud of the impact he has had and I am happy to say to people I am his sister.
“Just the other day I went on his facebook page and updated it, we still have his original page set up and people visit it constantly. I think of James all the time, he is not just my hero he is everyones hero.”
Mayor Taylor paid tribute to heroic James, 18, who was guarding a checkpoint in tumultuous Sangin in Helmand Province with his colleague Lance Corporal David Leslie Kirkness when they died.
In a rallying call, the mayor said: “Wear your poppy with pride. Those words resonate, but what do they mean, what should we be proud of today? It’s simple we should be proud of the heroism of our current armed services and of our past armed services who gave us the freedom we enjoy today.
“We are proud of the Royal British Legion who support them and we honour the fallen, we help the living. Please, please wear your poppy with pride.”