AN EX-SOLDIER has revealed his disgust over a shop banning its staff from wearing a poppy.
Derren Kershaw, 41, from Brookfield Avenue, Thornton, was shocked to hear Poundland stores across the country – including the flagship Blackpool Promenade store – had forced staff to stop wearing the sign of remembrance because it was not part of their uniform.
Poundland has since scrapped the ban, but Mr Kershaw, who served in the Household Cavalry until 1999, said it should never have happened in the first place.
He told The Gazette: “This had to be stopped because of all the wars still going on. It wasn’t right and people need to be making sure it doesn’t happen.
“It most definitely reflects badly on Blackpool and the shop because it only takes one shop to do it and the others could follow.”
The Military Covenant, first introduced in 2000, calls on Britain to adopt a duty of care to the Army.
It is the contract which protects the custom of raising money for veterans’ charities through the poppy appeal and Mr Kershaw said it should stop situations like this occurring.
He added: “It’s disgusting. It’s excessive to clamp down on people.
“I understand that certain religious groups may find it offensive, but this is a poppy and all we’re doing is showing our support to those who have died.
“It’s a show of support and it’s not an offensive statement.”
Julian Mineur, project manager at Blackpool veterans’ shop Supporting Our Brave, said he was relieved Poundland had made a U-turn. He said: “Common sense has prevailed. I’m delighted the management of Poundland have seen sense because the poppy indicates the sacrifices the Armed Forces have gone through and we should be wearing it with pride.
“This is a rarity and it’s probably not meant with any malice – it’s possibly a lack of communication.”
Poundland CEO Jim McCarthy said: “We have for some years operated a clear and simple dress code which our store colleagues are requested to observe.
“The policy was designed to prevent issues arising that, for whatever reason, could upset individuals or communities and to focus our energy on raising money for colleague nominated charities.
“We have listened to the views of customers and colleagues and have, in light of their feedback, reviewed the policy.
“We have decided that in the case of the poppy appeal we should allow store colleagues to use their own discretion in wearing poppies.
“We apologise for any unintended offence that has been caused.”