THOUSANDS of petals will fall from a Weymouth landmark in a symbolic gesture to launch this year’s Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal in Dorset.

Organisers from the county branch have sourced 100,000 poppy petals which they will drop from the Weymouth Sea Life Tower at a launch event on Friday, October 26.

It will be attended by schoolchildren, civic dignitaries and RBL supporters, as well as military representatives from Bovington Camp. Military vehicles will also roll into town for the ceremony.

The event will get the ball rolling for this year’s fundraiser which aims to top the 2011 total of £600,000. It will culminate on Remembrance Sunday which this year falls on Armistice Day, November 11.

Each year in early November thousands of volunteers take to the streets with poppies and collecting boxes, raising money for the annual Poppy Appeal.

The money collected at this time and from numerous other fundraising activities throughout the year goes to providing help and support to serving and ex-servicemen and women and their dependants.

Launch events for the county appeal have been held in recent years at Dorset landmarks including Highcliffe Castle and the Cerne Giant.

Community fundraiser for RBL Dorset Ian Jarvis is hoping this year’s event will be extra special thanks to the partnership with Weymouth Sea Life Centre which also runs the tower and seafront land train.

He said: “The launch event has been moved around the county each year and this year we’re doing it at the Sea Life Tower. It should be rather special.

“We had hoped to get someone to abseil down the tower but that’s not happening now. But we will be releasing approximately 100,000 petals from the top at around midday which should make for an impressive sight.”

Mr Jarvis stressed the petals, which were produced by the Legion at minimal cost, were biodegradable.

He added: “We’re also decorating the land train for the event and there will be members of the Legion’s Riders branch turning up on motorcycles.

“A band will be playing and we’ll have a short service of remembrance. But the launch event isn’t a sombre occasion, it’s to celebrate the work of the Royal British Legion and to raise awareness of the appeal.

“The Legion spends £1.7million a week on its welfare work so there’s always a need to raise more funds.

“We realise times have been tough this year but we would hope people can give what they can and wear their poppy with pride.”

To support the appeal in Dorset call 01258 480806 or email