THE Cerne Giant will help to launch this year’s Royal British Legion poppy appeal in Dorset.

Serving army personnel from the Royal Armoured Corps Training Centre at Bovington Camp will present the giant with a poppy on Friday.

The light-hearted launch will kick-off a serious campaign to raise some £36 million nationally for support focussed on the wounded and bereaved of the British Armed Forces serving in Afghanistan.

The Royal British Legion’s community fundraiser for Dorset, Louise Ravula, said Dorset residents gave £600,000 to last year’s poppy appeal and backed them to continue giving generously in the bleak economic climate.

“Despite the current economic times, we trust the people of Dorset will support those who have sacrificed on behalf of their country,” she said.

The Royal British Legion spends over £200,000 a day – more than a £1.4 million a week – helping more than 160,000 dependants, veterans, and the bereaved.

The Legion had provided financial help to more than 10,000 personnel who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families, said Mrs Ravula, and represented one-third of all appeals for higher compensation payments for injuries suffered in Afghanistan.

“Our campaigns have led to increased compensation awards which have placed an extra £12 million in the pockets of the most seriously injured,” she said.

Lifelong poppy appeal collector Sid Cross, 98, from Broadstone RBL, will be guest of honour at the ceremony.

A piper from the Royal Scots Guards will lead a short parade through Cerne Abbas at 12.30pm, including Royal British Legion branch members on their motorbikes and a vintage vehicle from Bovington’s tank museum.

The Royal British Legion celebrates its 90th anniversary next year.