SCOTTISH singer Susan Boyle has officially launched this year’s Scottish Poppy Appeal.
Susan, dressed for the occasion in a long red coat and matching hat, took to the steps outside Glasgow Royal Concert Hall to declare the appeal open.
She said she is “very proud” to help because her father Patrick served in the Second World War.
The event was kicked off with a performance from 80 members of the West of Scotland and Edinburgh Garrison Military Wives Choirs, who sang M People’s Proud and Sing which was performed by Gary Barlow, the Commonwealth Band and the Military Wives Choir at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert in June.
Susan, from Blackburn in West Lothian, posed for pictures with the choir members who showered her in little red poppies in front of a crowd gathered in Buchanan Street.
The 51-year-old, who shot to fame on Britain’s Got Talent when she auditioned with the song I Dreamed A Dream from Les Miserables in 2009, signed autographs and had pictures taken with fans.
Around five million poppies and 8,000 wreaths are hand-assembled by 40 veterans with disabilities every year at Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory in Edinburgh. They are distributed across Scotland by around 10,000 volunteers.
Poppyscotland, the charity which runs the appeal, uses all money raised to support ex-service members and their families who struggle with physical, psychological or financial problems.
Ian McGregor, chief executive of Poppyscotland, said he hopes this year’s campaign is the biggest yet.
“Last year we raised £2.69 million, that was a 14 per cent increase on 2010,” he said.
“These are hard times. We know that the Scottish public has been tremendously supportive of our work in the past. We know we’re asking a lot but we’re saying please can we increase that sum because the need is still there. It won’t go away. We have to be there for the long haul to support the Armed Forces and veterans community in Scotland.”
Jo McMurdo is founder of the West of Scotland Military Wives Choir which is based in Helensburgh, Argyll. The 29-year-old, who has two young sons, started the choir in March when her husband James was on Operation Herrik 14 in Afghanistan with the Royal Marines 45 Commando.
“We thought Proud would be a fantastic Scotland to sing today as we are all really proud to have been asked to be here,” she said.
“Poppyscotland means so much to us because they fund the choir and our uniforms, so without it we wouldn’t be able to continue as a choir.
“I started because I wanted to meet some other military wives in the same situation as me. Back then we had about 15 women. Now we have over 80. It’s just really grown and it’s a fantastic family and network which helps the time go quicker because there’s always husbands deployed.
“Poppyscotland is about old and new - my granddad served in the Armed Forces as well.”
Poppy Week this year is November 5-11.