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Blind Huddersfield veteran in Cenotaph march

An 87 year-old blind veteran from Huddersfield is preparing to march to London's Cenotaph on behalf of a charity which supported him after he lost his sight.

Derek Stead will join other ex-servicemen and women at this year's Remembrance Day march on November 11 in memory of fallen soldiers.

He will be marching on behalf of national charity Blind Veterans UK, which has supported him over the past few years.

He served in tankers and troop carriers which took him to the Mediterranean, Atlantic, Suez Canal and West Africa, and also was involved with the Sicily troop landings in 1943.

He describes the experience of serving during World War II as one of "death and destruction".

After the war, Derek spent a further six years serving as a driver with the RAF. He first contacted Blind Veterans UK when he lost his sight at the age of 75 as a result of dry macular degeneration.

Poppy Appeal launched in Barnsley

The Royal British Legion has launched its annual Poppy Appeal in Barnsley with a special service.

Youngsters from one of the town's primary schools were the first to receive their poppies alongside veterans and special guests.

Organisers say this year's appeal is as vital as ever with many ageing former soldiers from World War Two now needing help as well as those from more recent conflicts. Calendar's Martin Fisher was at the service.

Poppy appeal "vital as ever"

The Royal British Legion has launched its annual poppy appeal in Barnsley where children from Littleworth Grange Primary School laid a wreath at the town's war memorial.

Organiser, Christine Spencer, says this year's appeal is as vital as ever with many elderly veterans from the Second World War now needing help as well as those from conflicts like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Poppy appeal: interesting facts

  • The use of the poppy was inspired by the World War I poem "In Flanders Fields" by Lt Col John McCrae. Its opening lines refer to the many poppies that were the first flowers to grow on soldiers' graves
  • In 1918, American Christian worker Moina Michael, inspired by the poem, published "We Shall Keep the Faith". She vowed to always wear a poppy and began distributing them at conferences
  • Until 1996, poppies were made by disabled veterans in Canada, but have since been made by a private contractor
  • A team of about 50 people - most of them disabled former British military personnel - work all year making millions of poppies at the Poppy Factory in Richmond
  • To commemorate animal victims of war, Animal Aid has issued a purple poppy, which can be worn alongside the traditional red one

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Barnsley celebrates poppy appeal

Barnsley will mark the start of this year's poppy appeal in the new Barnsley Pals Centenary Square, recently dedicated to two of the town's battalions who last hundreds of men during the Battle of the Somme.

This morning the Mayor of Barnsley will present the first poppy to launch the Royal British Legion's South and West Yorkshire County poppy appeal.

Starting at 11am, the service will include a performance of two remembrance hymns by 30 children from Littleworth Grange Primary School.

Fascinating facts about poppies

This year's poppy appeal has been marked in Bradford Credit: PA

The Royal British Legion has marked the start of this year's poppy appeal in Bradford.

Here's eight facts about Poppies.

The official wearing poppies day begins on the last Friday in October

The poppy is supposed to be worn on the left - as close to the heart as possible

A poppy costs around three pence to make

There are 250 species of the poppy family

Poppies have long been the symbol of sleep and death

The juice from the root of a Californian poppy is used for toothaches

A white poppy resembles peace

Poppies were the first flower to grow in Belgium after the devastating aftermath of the first World War

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