Today launches the Royal British Legion’s annual Poppy Appeal to raise money for former servicemen and women. Around 40,000 volunteers help distribute around 40 million poppies from shops all over the UK from today until Monday, November 11th.
Polish war veteran Antoni Grudzień, 96-year-old soldier of the 2nd Corps of General Władysław Anders, is selling poppies in Leeds, at Tesco. 31 years ago he started selling poppies for the Royal British Legion and keeps on doing it every year.
People come to Tesco to buy poppies from Antoni, take a picture and shake a hand of a Hero. His story moved many people last year. You can read about it here.
Mister Grudzień, together with the others, liberated Italy. He was wounded near Ancona. After the war, he attended the military school in Amandola and then became an instructor and trained other soldiers.
In 1946 he went to Great Britain, where he lives with his wife Irena. He is always surrounded by young people as a model of patriotism for the next generations of Poles in exile. He shares his experience and life wisdom, always with a smile on his face.
Last year he had a chance to meet Anna Maria Anders, daughter of his commander – General Władysław Anders. It is difficult to describe the emotion that overwhelmed both of them. With tears in his eyes Antoni showed a medal he had received directly from General.
If you buy poppies you show total respect to all old servicemen and women who gave us our freedom today. Antoni is the best example of how outstanding contribution of Polish soldiers and airmen was made in defence of Great Britain. It makes many people happy to see both nations mixed together like this.
Thank you for your service, Our Hero! Wear your poppy with pride!
Pictures: Irena Kawalec, British PolesPoles in UK