THE Poppy Appeal 2015 was launched in Wiltshire this morning when a ceremonial poppy was presented to the Lord Lieutenant of the county after a canal boat journey in Devizes.

The poppy was handed over by Major Mark Whitehouse, 33, Commanding Officer of the 4th Battalion Rifles alongside Alayna Woodly, five, and Aidan Stanbrook, eight, of Clarendon Infants' School, Tidworth and Appleshaw St Peter's Primary, near Andover.

The 30-minute ceremony took place after the Lord Lieutenant Sarah Rose Troughton was taken on a brief canal boat journey between locks 43 and 44 on the Caen Hill flight.

After the presentation she said: “It is a wonderful opportunity to show our respect to the veterans. We are showing our pride that the council of Wiltshire has in those people.

“I have loved the event. I have been here on two other occasions with the Canal Trust. I am happy that we have brought so many young people along.”

Almost 70 people attended the ceremony at 10.45am to see the Kenavon Venture canal boat make the short canal journey.

Mervyn Kelly, 71, an ex-RAF pilot, who attended, said: “It is very symbolic. It is great to see the youngsters involved in the ceremony and it is vital we move it on to the next generation.

“You must get youth involved, we must keep young people coming along to events such as this, so there will be more people to commemorate and support the British Legion.”

VIPs who attended the event included Rob Dean, chairman of the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust and Mike Swabey, county chairman of the Royal British Legion.

Money raised from the Poppy Appeal goes towards the RBL’s work helping current serving personnel, veterans and their families.

The Poppy Appeal is the largest single fundraising event in the legion’s calendar. Over 40 million poppies will be made and distributed for this year’s Poppy Appeal across the UK and over-seas by 350,000 dedicated collectors.

The British public helped the Royal British Legion answer over 450,000 calls for help in the last year.