POPPIES will not be sold by Albury’s RSL sub-branch to mark the centenary of the end of World War I.
Even though a NSW-wide ban on RSL fundraising has been temporarily lifted to allow poppy sales, the Albury sub-branch will not be selling the flowers in the lead-up to the 100th anniversary of the armistice on Sunday.
The sub-branch president Graham Docksey cited difficulties in getting deliveries of the poppies from head office and a lack of revenue returning to the Border from Albury sales as key factors.
Mr Docksey said he was told initially “100 per cent” of revenue would go to Sydney before an offer of 30 per cent for Albury was made.
“Previously it’s always been 50-50,” he said.
“The margin that we would get was going to be greatly reduced.”
Mr Docksey said he had some soldiers and air force cadets on standby to sell the poppies but he opted two weeks ago to not proceed.
The move follows the fundraising ban being introduced last year in response to a corruption probe centred on the RSL’s head office.
The NSW RSL did not respond on Monday to questions about poppy sales arrangements.
Mr Docksey said the inability to sell poppies had proved a drain on the sub-branch finances.
“We’ve done our budget and we’re $37,000 in the red for next year,” he said.
Poppies will be freely available on Sunday at the 10.30am service at St Matthew’s Church and a special centenary event at Albury’s Pioneer Cemetery at 4pm.
The anniversary service will pay special tribute to the 115 buried at the pioneer graveyard and 140 in the general cemetery who served in World War I.
Mr Docksey, a retired army major, said two wreathes would be laid by descendants of servicemen.
“I’ve been planning for this for about five years in my head,” he said.
“It’s just too great an opportunity for our community and I would encourage people to come along, it’s a free service and an outdoor service.”
Wodonga will host a Remembrance Day service at the Woodland Grove cenotaph from 10.30am on Sunday.
Wodonga RSL sub-branch president Kevyn Williams estimates the usual attendance figure of 400 to 500 could double due to the date being on a Sunday and the centenary.
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