Jason Coward, Poppyscotland Chairman
It was a great honour to be named Chairman of Poppyscotland in July 2020. The work of Poppyscotland, and its subsidiary Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory, lie at the heart of welfare provision for the Armed Forces community in Scotland. Collaboration and partnership working are central tenets of our operating model and this has perhaps never been more evident and important than during the past year.
It was, and indeed continues to be, a period of unparalleled challenge for Poppyscotland, Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory, the Armed Forces community and society in general. When our financial year began in October 2019 no one could have predicted the arrival of a global pandemic, the likes of which the world has not seen in a century.
Our Armed Forces have once again come to the fore at a time of national crisis, selflessly stepping forward and playing a leading role in the battle against Coronavirus. Following their example and drawing on the same values that are evident in the military, Poppyscotland and Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory had to rapidly adapt and adjust.
During the year expenditure on our charitable activities increased by 5.6%, despite income reductions. This reflects our ongoing commitment to provide the Armed Forces community with the services they need in a continually challenging and uncertain environment. Overall group income fell from £8,888k in 2018/19 to £7,146k this year. This was not unexpected and largely down to the cancellation of our spring and summer fundraising programme.
The Poppyscotland Board of Trustees intend to reduce the level of reserves the charity holds in a managed way in the coming years. The pandemic is a salient reminder why reserves are so important, and we are confident that the prudent way these have been managed over the years will enable the charity to not only weather the Covid storm, but to come through it stronger. We intend to cover any budget deficit caused by the pandemic from the existing reserves and have also identified a further £1.58m from reserves to cover the costs of completing the Lady Haig Poppy Factory building compliance project.
It has been truly inspiring to see how the charity has adapted and responded during the past year. Our veterans at Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory produced more than one million poppies from home during the lockdown, safeguarding the 2020 Scottish Poppy Appeal in the process. Our incredible network of volunteers adapted their plans to ensure we could deliver a safe and Covid compliant Appeal. Our staff worked tirelessly to ensure the vast majority of our activities could continue, despite the pandemic. And, together with Legion Scotland and the Scottish Government, we helped to ensure that three major national commemorations were appropriately marked. That adaptability, collaboration and hard work has resulted in a very strong financial performance in the most challenging of situations. It positions the group extremely well to face what is certain to be a turbulent and fluid period ahead.
The following annual report outlines in more detail some of the activities we have undertaken during the past year and the incredible impact this has had. In closing I would like to pay tribute to my predecessor as Chair of the Poppyscotland Board of Trustees, Antony Macaulay, and also to Sandy Davison, who recently stepped down as chairman of the Lady Haig Poppy Factory board after sixteen years of dedicated service.