ITV News presenter Charlene White: Why I don't wear a poppy on screen

ITV News presenter Charlene White has decided not to wear a poppy on screen. Credit: ITV News

In recent years, ITV News Presenter Charlene White has received a torrent of racist abuse on social media sites around her decision not to wear a poppy on-air.

As a supporter of the Poppy Appeal, here she explains in her own words why she chooses not to wear one when she is reading the news

By Charlene White, ITV News presenter

Once again I've made the decision not to wear a poppy on screen. It's never an easy decision due to the racist and sexist abuse that I often receive on social media as a result.

It is a subject that provokes a lot of debate and anger - but it is one that I feel strongly about.

I support and am patron of a number of charities, and due to impartiality rules, I am not allowed to visually support them all whilst presenting news programmes.

That includes things like a red ribbon for World Aids Day, or a purple band for Bowel Cancer Awareness Month.

Both these and many more charities do great things in the UK, but I'm not allowed to give them exposure on screen.

So I feel uncomfortable supporting just one charity above all others, namely The Royal British Legion, but I fully support my colleagues who do choose to wear the poppy on screen.

In my private life, it's very different.

I wear a poppy on Armistice Day - in fact I wear one that my friend Jen's mum knitted for me a few years ago.

And I proudly have one of the ceramic poppies from the Tower Of London on my mantelpiece.

And every year I donate to the British Legion. Money which the charity desperately needs for the work that they do to support serving and ex-service men and women and their families.

So please don't think that I don't support the work that our service personnel do, or that I don't understand the sacrifices made by servicemen and women 100 years ago. I do.

I come from a Forces family. My Dad served in the RAF, and my uncle served in the Army.

When I first decided not to wear the poppy on screen, I spoke to both of them to make sure they were okay with it. And they both support my decision.

Of course I don't expect everyone to support it.

However it is always important to remember what my family, your family, and millions of people over many generations have fought for: the right to choose, and the right of freedom of speech and expression.

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