A disabled ex-soldier from Co Antrim who set out to raise £10,000 by Remembrance Day to help support fellow veterans has already exceeded his fundraising target.
Lance Corporal Bryan Phillips, 32, who lost both of his legs above the knee after standing on an improvised explosive device while serving in Afghanistan in 2012, aimed to lay 100 wreaths at 100 war memorials across Northern Ireland by Armistice Day as part of his ‘Poppy 100’ fundraiser.
He began the task in March this year.
Speaking to the News Letter yesterday the Carrickfergus resident, who served in the Irish Guards for 10 years, said: “We have reached our target of 100 wreaths and 100 different war memorials to mark 100 years of the end of WW1.
“With the cost of £100 to sponsor a wreath, the aim was to raise £10,000 minimum for the Irish Guards Benevolent Fund and the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.
“The total amount raised to date is unknown and I don’t want to reveal it until a full count has been done, but we have exceeded our aim of £10,000.
“The fundraising was harder than I thought, with a lot of mileage put in travelling all over the country making sure the sponsors have their wreaths on time for them to lay at their respective war memorials.
“We are just chasing up the last few to give them out.
“We have some wreaths that have been sponsored but the people would prefer if we laid them on their behalf, so we will be covering the memorials that haven’t been sponsored using those wreaths.”
One of the 100 organisations that have backed Bryan’s fundraising initiative is West Belfast Orange Hall, whose members will lay a wreath at the 1941 Blitz Memorial in Shankill Graveyard on Remembrance Sunday.
William Humphrey MLA, chairman of West Belfast Orange Hall management committee, praised Bryan’s fundraising efforts, describing him as “a truly inspirational individual”.
“West Belfast Orange Hall management committee was only too willing to support this fundraising effort by Bryan Phillips.
“He is a truly inspirational individual and has been selfless in raising funds for armed forces charities, including through this special initiative,” he said.