POPPY Appeal organisers have expressed their delight after raising more than £30,000 in 2020 despite the challenges of the pandemic.

Maldon and Heybridge Royal British Legion had a tough year in fundraising for the appeal as door-to-door collections and other events were cancelled due to restrictions.

Despite this, the community has rallied together and raised a whopping £32,000 in Maldon, Heybridge, Purleigh, Latchingdon and the Woodhams Walter and Mortimer.

The group was aiming for £20,000.

Appeal organiser Sholto Morton said it was people’s “great generosity” which helped smash the target.

He said: “As with all charities in the current climate the poppy appeal was severely affected by the restrictions arising from the coronavirus pandemic.

“As a result, some 20 per cent of the volunteer collectors were not able to take part, at the six major store sites only two of the three weekend collections could be held and the normal door to door and street collections were cancelled.

“We were so surprised at the amount of £10 and £20 notes left in our collection baskets.

“As the organiser of the appeal, I want to thank the great generosity of the public’s response to the appeal and pay tribute to the hard work of some 200 volunteers who made the result possible.

“In a year when even the Remembrance Sunday parade had to be cancelled and so much else seemed to go wrong, this result was truly heart-warming.”

Maldon historian Stephen Nunn said it was a fantastic outcome for the long-standing group.

He said: “The Maldon and Heybridge district branch of the Royal British Legion has a long and very distinguished history going back to its formation in 1921.

“Our branch has had a succession of stalwart, dedicated collectors and has always made an impressive contribution to the overall collection. Given the pandemic and the difficult circumstances we are currently living through, to have achieved this amount is an absolutely fantastic outcome and says much about our support for the armed services past and present.”