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Henry Smith MP: Armed Forces Day 2020

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This year, Armed Forces Day falls on Saturday 27th June, with the Armed Forces Day flag being raised the previous Monday across the nation, including at Crawley Town Hall.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the role of the armed forces at home as well as abroad.

Around the country there are more than 100 mobile testing units which are operated by the armed forces. These provide testing where it is needed, enabling key workers and their households to be tested, with results within 48 hours.

I am particularly grateful to the 7 Rifles Reservist soldiers, who are based at Gatwick Airport and operate testing units around West Sussex. Our town appreciates your work, and the part you are playing in ensuring life can return to a semblance of normality.

It is important, however, that we show our gratitude not only on Armed Forces Day, but all year round.

One of the freedoms which our armed forces stand for is the freedom of protest. This does not, it should be said, extend to having permission to vandalise memorials to the fallen.

I am supporting the Desecration of War Memorials Bill which not only designates a specific offence relating to unlawful damage to a war memorial, but would also see an exemption of damage to war memorials from the existing £5,000 damages threshold, see a maximum fine replaced with an unlimited fine, as well as a maximum custodial sentence of 10 years.

It would, of course, be up to the judiciary to decide on sentences for each individual case. This Bill would remove some of the barriers to ensuring justice in such a scenario.

Henry Smith MP
Crawley Constituency

Henry Smith

Henry Smith MP: Poppy Appeal 2020

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In his article this week, Crawley MP Henry Smith looks to raise awareness of the importance of continuing support for the Royal British Legion:

Throughout the course of this year we have seen so many aspects of day-to-day life affected by COVID-19, with few being more poignant than the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.

With the pandemic impacting some of the more traditional and familiar ways we remember, I am keen to raise awareness of how we can continue to support the Royal British Legion in a safe and socially distant manner.

  • Poppies in the Post: The Royal British Legion’s website allows you to request 20 poppies free of charge, which can be distributed to friends and neighbours. Many of the volunteers who usually distribute more than 40 million poppies annually are unable to do so this year, so we are being asked to step in to support the Armed Forces community and ensure their contribution to our country is not forgotten. Please remember to make a donation to the Royal British Legion after requesting your poppies.
  • Printable Poppy: Unfortunately, large scale gatherings at the Cenotaph in London, at memorials across Crawley and around the country to pay our respects will be restricted to a smaller number of representatives. The Royal British Legion have therefore launched the Printable Poppy – an A4 poster which can be displayed at home, perhaps in the front window – for us to show our support.
  • My Poppy Run: A further consequence of COVID-19 are the changes to the My Poppy Run events which are usually held in October and November. Due to social distancing, these are taking place virtually, with participants being able to run, jog or walk while raising money.
  • Visit the local supermarket: The Royal British Legion have confirmed that supermarkets including Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons, Aldi and Asda, in addition to online retailers such as Amazon and eBay, as well as Lloyds Bank and Santander are supporting the 2020 Poppy Appeal. Each location has a number of cashless donation options, and Morrisons and Sainsbury’s offer customers an option to add a donation to their shopping bill.
  • Poppy Shop: With products ranging from poppy pins and jewellery, to clothing, stationery and homeware, 100 per cent of profits from the Poppy Shop go towards the Royal British Legion’s work to support the Armed Forces community.
  • Donate online or by text: The Legion’s website allows supporters to make a donation online, or by sending a text message to donate £2, £5 or £10.

While the ways our country reflects and remembers will undoubtedly feel different, the message remains the same. The sense of duty of all in the Armed Forces community will never be forgotten.

Henry Smith MP
Crawley Constituency

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