- Footage shows dozens of protestors surrounding the poppy sellers yesterday
- The volunteers are forced to move from the area due to the ongoing disruption
Volunteers selling poppies at Victoria Station in London were surrounded by protestors during a pro-palestine sit in yesterday.
Footage from social media shows dozens of protestors surrounding the poppy sellers on Armistice Day chanting ‘Free Palestine‘ and ‘From the river to the sea Palestine will be free’.
Protestors can be seen holding placards and Palestinian flags before sitting on the floor of the station within close proximity to the poppy stand.
Police later arrive on the scene as the volunteers, who were raising money for a veterans charity, are forced to move away from the area due to the ongoing disruption caused by the protestors.
It comes as Royal British Legion volunteers across the UK were left too ‘scared’ to go out and raise money earlier this week amid fears over pro-palestinian protestors.
Victims claim they have been intimidated, verbally abused and even punched and shoved in public places such as stations.
One said: ‘This is just part of our uniform now’, another defiant RBL seller said: ‘I didn’t think twice about being here – this is about remembering the war dead and collecting for a good cause’.
A veteran said he had his phone stolen while poppy selling as he said collecting was ‘a lot more dangerous’ this year.
John O’Rourke, Chairman of the Royal British Legion for Thamesmead and Abbey Wood, took over a poppy stand at Abbey Wood station on October 26 at around 10am before his wife arrived an hour later.
The 76-year-old had left to go to the toilet – leaving his wife to supervise the stall – when the thief struck.
He told LBC: ‘She was distracted by an individual who pulled my bag underneath the railing. Then he dropped a box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates on the floor, distracted her and as she’s turned around, he’s come through the barrier, grabbed my phone off the table and was gone.
‘The bag was thrown outside and was found by a member of staff and handed into the station. The station manager caught him doing everything on CCTV.’
Mr O’Rourke said similar incident occurred earlier in the week when a woman tried to steal a collection box before a volunteer fought her off.
He added: ‘It’s a lot more dangerous than it was before. This year in particular I’ve noticed they hang around outside the door and wait and watch their opportunities.’
MPs have urged Britons – and police officers – to wear poppies ‘with pride’ and in ‘solidarity’ with Royal British Legion volunteers.
Tory MP Michael Fabricant told MailOnline that he had spoken to people who are now ‘nervous’ about wearing a poppy.
He said: ‘I have been wearing my poppy with pride. Police and the general public should all wear poppies as in previous years to show solidarity with the normal, decent people in the UK.
‘I noticed how relatively few people are wearing poppies this year. On asking, one told me he couldn’t find a poppy seller while another said he was nervous being seen in London with one due to the demonstrations.’
Conservative MP Bob Seely told MailOnline: ‘I think millions of people up and down the country will be frankly, dismayed and appalled that a hard left rent a-mob seem to be intimidating Poppy sellers, many of whom are veterans doing their bit and taking a really important and valuable role in reminding us of the importance of Remembrance Sunday and the Remembrance weekend’.
Poppy sellers have told MailOnline that they will be not be cowed by the threat of protests, although three out of four at St Pancras on Friday were wearing bodycams in case there is trouble.
The RBL has said it is working closely with Network Rail, Transport for London, major supermarkets and the police to keep volunteers safe. They also spoke of safety measures but did not expand on those.
A spokesman said: ‘We have thousands of brilliant individuals who volunteer to collect donations for the Poppy Appeal each year, across cities, towns, villages and communities. We are reliant on the generous time these volunteers offer and we arrange Poppy Appeal collections as widely as possible but cannot provide volunteer cover at all locations throughout the whole appeal.
‘The safety of all Poppy Appeal volunteers is our number one priority. We have permission to collect at every location where Poppy Appeal volunteers are collecting, and assess those locations have measures in place to ensure the safety of our volunteers.’
Elsewhere, a lone poppy seller at Waterloo Station said he had nothing but positive comments from people on the station concourse, despite fears of disruption due to protests.
David Poynter said hundreds of people had stopped to buy a poppy – with no sign of the abuse suffered by other sellers in the run up to Armistice Day.
He said: ‘Everyone has been extremely positive. People are happy to see me here. Lots of people have been buying their poppies, which is obviously very pleasing.
The Royal British Legion said earlier this week that they are ‘keen to get on with collecting’ and their merry band of volunteers feel the same.
Maggie Davies, 80, who has been selling poppies for years and served six years in the Royal Airforce, where she met her husband, told MailOnline: ‘We probably take in £1,000 a day. People are very generous. We took £700 in two hours yesterday’.
A Met Police spokesman said earlier this week: ‘This week concerns have been raised about the safety of poppy sellers at stations and other busy venues.
‘Alongside our colleagues at the British Transport Police we have been clear no intimidation of those who so generously give up their time for this treasured national cause will be tolerated. Officers know the risk felt by sellers and should be sought out by anyone concerned throughout the weekend’.
At nearby High Street Kensington, Moranna Colvin, 77, remained upbeat despite the threats to the safety of poppy sellers.
She told MailOnline: ‘It’s nothing but extraordinary generosity. Not at all [scared]. Maybe it’s because it’s enclosed [at High Street Kensington station]. We are on our own and we are not afraid. The generosity is just amazing.’