A North East landmark was illuminated with a giant poppy to launch this year’s appeal.
Bamburgh Castle was last night lit with the huge image marking the start of the annual Poppy Appeal, which is this year focusing on the support The Royal British Legion provide to families of the armed forces.
War widow Sharon Turton, who lost husband Kristen in Iraq in 2007, was invited to do the big switch on shortly after 6.30pm last night.
Trooper Kristen Turton, who was based at Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, died when the armoured vehicle he was travelling in was targeted by a roadside bomb.
The 27-year-old specialised in demolitions and was an expert marksman but felt his greatest achievement was his 2004 marriage to wife Sharon.
In the last couple of years Sharon has become closely involved with The Royal British Legion and is a key member at her local Darlington branch, of which she is secretary.
She said: “I’m very passionate about it. It’s something I feel I need to give back because so many people have given me their help and support.
“This is my chance to do something for other families who are going through what I went through.”
She added: “I’m so proud to be here turning these lights on. It’s such a huge honour.” Rachel Jobson, who is community fundraiser for The Royal British Legion, praised Sharon for her efforts and is hopeful that the people of the North East will get behind the Legion’s appeal as they have in previous years.
She said: “This year we are concentrating on showing people what we do with the armed force families. We are very proud of the work we do with the families and we’re keen to focus on that.
“It’s not only current or veteran families that we work with and that’s why we asked Sharon to along today and do this.
“We spend £1.6m each and every week helping the armed force communities so that just shows that every single poppy that people donate to us really does make a difference.”
In the past few years, the national collection to mark Remembrance Day in November has put people from the region among the country’s most charitable.
Generous North Easterners have given more than £1m to the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal for the last two years running and it’s hoped that the same target will be reached once again this year.
The sale of every poppy helps the organisation support the British armed forces past and present, and their families.