There will be no Remembrance Day poppies in the Custance household this year. Jenefer Custance, 57, and her husband Terry, 59, say they will not be donating when a Royal British Legion collector calls at their home in Western Avenue, Henley. They are protesting at the legion’s decision to accept a donation from the British National Party.
Mrs Custance, a shop assistant in Henley, said: "I was so shocked and angry when I read that the British Legion had accepted a donation from the BNP. It is dirty money. The BNP is a racist organisation and accepting money from it is disrespectful to all the men and women, whatever colour or creed, who have served, or are serving, or have died fighting for their country. We have always supported the Poppy Appeal but this year we will not be buying any. All charities are desperate for money but I cannot understand what the Legion is thinking in allowing this to happen."
The British Legion accepted a donation from a member of the BNP after earlier this year distancing itself from the party. The cash was raised by Rachel Firth, who spent 24 hours in a cardboard box collecting donations to draw attention to former soldiers who are forced to sleep rough. The sum she raised has not been disclosed but she donated half to the party and half to the Legion.
Mr Custance, a print industry salesman, said: "It beggar’s belief they have done this. I am sure the vast majority of the British people and members of the British Legion will be appalled when they learn of this donation." He added: "Although we won’t be buying poppies, we will be giving a donation to Help for Heroes."
In June, the legion took out a full-page advert in a national paper, accusing BNP leader Nick Griffin of politicising the poppy and asked him to stop wearing it. The party has also been accused of exploiting the donation by publicising it on its website.
Brigadier Malcolm Page, chairman of Henley branch of the Royal British Legion, said the issue had been dealt with by the legion’s head office. He added: "I think that by donating this couple will not be hurting the BNP but will not be helping veterans. I hope for their sake that Mrs Custance reconsiders.