ORGANISERS have cancelled this year’s York Poppy Appeal due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Collections will not take place this year “after a great deal of soul searching and agonising,” said one of the organisers John Stamp.

It means none of the volunteers involved in the appeal will be receiving their box of poppies and collecting pot.

Mr Stamp, a volunteer for York Royal British Legion, which is behind the York Poppy Appeal, said this must be the first time since the inaugural appeal in 1921 that such measures have had to be taken.

Last year, the York Poppy Appeal raised more than £180,000 to help the Royal British Legion’s vital work in supporting the Armed Forces community.

Mr Stamp said that the local appeal had been cancelled “due to the acceleration of the virus in the York area".

He said: “The organisers all considered the risks too great.

“The health and safety of all concerned, the organisers, helpers, the staff of all the locations we visit and the general public are all of paramount importance.

“Unknowingly we could have left a trail of viral infection across the York area.”

Mr Stamp said local Poppy Appeal collectors are mainly ex-services so are of a “vulnerable age and can’t be risked".

He said members of 2 Signals Regiment of Fulford give the organisers great support every year, both with collecting and at the count.

He added: “The junior members of our collectors are members of the Sea Cadets, the Army Cadets and the Air Training Corps, none of who can be risked.

“We all thoroughly enjoy working with these different groups and age ranges and this year will be sadly missed.”

Poppies will still be available at all major supermarkets.

Wreaths are available as usual, but there is no parade on Remembrance Sunday, as reported by The Press earlier this month.

The public can donate to the national Poppy Appeal by texting:

£2 to POPPY2 on 70545

£5 to POPPY5 on 70545

£10 to POPPY10 on 70545

“We would like to thank the people of York who over the years have been very generous with their donations,” Mr Stamp said.

“Last year the total was in excess of £180,000. It is not a competition but we endeavour to collect more each year.

“Next year 2021 is the centenary year of the Royal British Legion so hopefully it will be a year better than any before.”

The national Poppy Appeal officially starts on October 24 and runs until November 11.