Poppy travel

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Poppy_Travel, Mar 5, 2007.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. Poppy Travel is the travel arm of the Royal British Legion. Its part of the Welfare Division Legion and has the aim of perpetuating Remembrance by bringing together like minded people here and abroad.

    We run a programme of tours to battlefields cemeteries and memorials world wide for adults. We have several flavours of tour.

    Remembrance Tours Ever since 1927 the Legion has run pilgrimages to the graves of the fallen. Remembrance Tours are arranged around visits to Cemeteries and Memorials. Originally these were aimed at veterans and relatives, but they are open to the public with more distant relationships to the locations. We will visit the major sites every year at anniversary dates and arrange trips to other locations every few years. These are formal Legion visits, accompanied by a Council member and a Standard Bearer, with political clearance, support and often participation by the local embassy. We will help people wishing to visit a particular grave and adjust the itinerary to do so wherever possible. A doctor accompanies the tour. Each tour is led by a tour manager who can usually also provide information about the historical background. These tours also include visits to the cultural sites in the area as well as an opportunity for a relaxing holiday among people with a common heritage.

    Battlefield Tours. ‘Remember Them! Battlefield Tours – Bringing the Past to Life – We cater for those who want to know more about the experience of our forbears who fought overseas with our Armed Forces. Each tour is devoted to a campaign or battle and will focus on what Field Marshal Wavell called the ‘actualities of war’ – how ordinary men met extraordinary challenges in the face of fear, fatigue, bad weather and a determined enemy. All our battlefield tours focus on the serviceman’s experience - not the general’s.See the ground and hear the songs, the stories and the poems of Britain’s fighting men. An expert battlefield guide will lead each tour. Some personal grave visits may be possible where time is available and the itinerary permits. We are a trade member of the Guild of Battlefield Guides, dedicated to raising standards and most of our tours are led by badged guides.


    Military Tours for the Armed Forces. We run a different kind of battlefield Tour for military units using our expertise in battlefield interpretation to help military units obtain training and educational value from battlefields via battlefield studies, tours, staff rides and TEWTs. Over 7,000 Army recruits a year take one of our “Realities of War “battlefield tours as part of their phase one training. Our corps of thirty battlefield guides can cover most battlefields and periods of history. It’s also an opportunity for the Legion to have contact with the serving forces.

    War Widows Grant in Aid Scheme. We are the MOD’s agents for the War Widows Grant in Aid Scheme. This scheme provides a 100% grant to allow a widow or widower to visit the grave of a spouse who died overseas before 1967 and have not already done so at the public expense. There is also a 100% grant for carers’ travel and accommodation within the UK. Widows or widowers are eligible even if they have remarried. If you know of anyone who meets this critera please let them know about the scheme!.


    Advice for Independent Travellers. We will provide advice to travellers seeking to visit battlefields on their own Remembrance Travel, 01622 716 729 remembrancetravel@britishlegion.org.uk The Legion can also book travel and accommodation for you via Legion Direct Travel Tel: 01789 263263 info@completeworld The Legion can also provide books on specific battlefields through its corporate partner "Tommies Guides - Military Books".Welcome to Tommies Guides - WW1 & WW2 Military Book Specialists Buying services through the Legion benefits the Legion because we get a contribution from the supplier. Legionline can offer general advice and support on general matters such as how to find out where someone served or is buried. Legionline is open 10.00-16.00 (Tel: 08457 725 725 (local rate) From overseas: +44 (0)20 7973 7200 (full rate) Email: info@britishlegion.org.uk ) and

    Reunions. We have a commitment to organise reunions and events that promote comradeship and alleviate loneliness. Currently we mainly provide reunions for travel customers. We are exploring the potential for re-unions of people who have relatives who served in particular units, services or on specific operations.

    Poppy Travel has sponsored this forum for two reasons. Firstly, we think that many of the people who post about Militaria and Military History could benefit from some of our services. Secondly we want to develop and expand our services. We may ask our opinion about some new ideas we are considering.
     
  2. Thank you for explaining further about your services and facilities, however, the actual picture for senior Veterans, (as in WWII therefore 80+), using air travel is far from rosy in the real world, which they should be aware of if travelling abroad after a long absence.

    In general, the operation provided at major UK airports by the Airport Authority (as it’s they who invariably effect this as opposed to the airline), is on the whole poor to abysmal. By no means is conveyance only needed by someone who is wheelchair bound, many can walk a modest distance but not many of the treks needed to get from check-in to boarding gate. It’s pot luck if you get a steward who has any understanding of likely needs of the passenger, or that of their carer. Vis: The expected buggy cart doesn’t materialise at the last moment, and the Veteran is to be wheeled to the gate in an airport wheelchair (with absolutely no spare time for anything else), and their carer – who is quite often an elderly spouse – has to make the unexpected dash which they themselves would not elect to do if there was any other option than staying behind.

    When buggies do turn-up, I have known drivers to refuse to take carers (meaning they have to sprint along side the buggy or miss the flight), or, disembark their passengers several hundred yards from the plane saying ”this is as near as I go” which of course is utter cr@p.

    Is this typical of all European airports? Absolutely not, quite the opposite. For example, at Milan, Linate (yes the Italians who are supposed not to be able to organise anything), they have a special lounge for passengers with special needs, fitted with soft furnishings, TV, toilets and a comprehensive refreshments bar just by the lounge entrance. And, an individual is assigned to look after each passenger and ensure they then on board. In-bound is no less impressive where they will not leave you until you have your luggage and are on your way. On one occasion, well outside their brief, a steward wheeled the lady with the rest of the group to go and collect their hired car, then insisted on wheeling her into the car park to the car! One time at Gatwick when I was conveying a wheelchair passenger on an atrocious evening, as I got them in their chair and from my car to shelter and going back for their luggage, an official moron drifted over and instead of offering to help, get help or advise how to get it, as I at least expected, came out with feckless statement; ”You won’t be leaving that vehicle unattended will you sir?”

    All of this beyond the scope of the RBL of course, but a real-world condition which you could badger the government about, and at lease make disabled passengers aware of.

    One issue I raised with you in another thread – and never got a reply to – is that of insurance for seniors and particularly 80’s+. It may be well and good to get assistance with a £300 trip, but somewhat pointless when the travel insurance they ”are at liberty to choose themselves” (per legislation of some years ago), turns out to cost them £600 or more.

    Again the RBL are not an insurance company, but definitely it is truly something to ‘get out of your pram’ about when round the table before an excellent lunch. I would say your ability to arrange reasonable insurance would attract more custom to your travel service?

    No.9
     
  3. Thank you for your post.

    We don't experience difficulties with buggies. If we know about people with mobility difficulties, the airport service is usually good. There is a minor element of paperwork as there has to be an arguable reason for the condition.

    Thank you for the reminder about insurance. Insurance for the over 80's can be a problem. Not all insurers will quote. We offer two quotes through Legion Direct and Age Concern based on insueres that will quote.

    I can't find your original post on Insurance. Perhaps you can post a link.
     
  4. As far as i can see the RBL and all its services are aimed at the older veterans. I as many others respect older veterans. However, as time goes by, will RBL poppy travel continue? As older veterans die off will these trips be popular enough?? What about younger veterans and the conflicts they have been involved in, will the RBL arrange trips/tours??The RBL have to look into the future and indeed RBL travel. The prices do seem a bit high also!
     

  5. Tommo,.

    Many thanks for your post. I'll try to answer your questions.

    RBL for Younger People.

    The RBL is changing. Many of the new services are aimed at younger veterans, the public and the serving armed forces.

    The focus of Remembrance Travel is shifting. Taking veterans, widows and family members on a pilgrimage to a relatiove's grave is still one of the most important things we do for the Legion. We give a very definite priority to helping War Widows under the MOD Grant in Aid Scheme. However, we have a very definite remit to promote Remembrance to a younger generation. Increasingly travellers seek to understand something of their family history or generally have a better understanding of what servicemen and women did and why they did it. As the proportion of the public with experience of military service declines, the educational aspect of touring increases in importance. When we help school children to think what it might be like to be a soldier in the Great War, this might be the only time in their education that they are invited to understand the world from a serviceman' or woman's point of view.

    We are making progress. Currently, Army Recruits are the largest single type of traveller with Legion Guides taking over 7000 recruits a year to the battlefields of the world wars. Schools are the fastest growing. As part of our tour, our guides will cover the work of the RBL

    We are also looking at tours for more recent conflicts. This year we are offering tours to The Falkland Islands, Malaysia and Guyana. The last tour is aimed at people who may have served there in the 1960s and might want to take their families to what is still a relatively under developed tourist destination. We do have difficulties with some of the more recent battlefields because they are not safe to visit yet. We are always open to suggestion.

    Next year we are planning a BAOR tour - more bottlefield than battlefield and are sympathetic to other recent destinations. One of the reasons for sponsoring this forum is to test out some new ideas. Did you have anywhere particular in mind?

    Re Pricing.

    Saying that "our prices seem a bit high" is a bit of a sweeping statement.

    We try to offer good value. Here is the evidence:-

    - You can visit the Somme or Ypres for two days and one night half board in a 3 star hotel for £114. For this you also get the services of a GBG badged battlefield guide and assistance from us if you want to find a grave or battlefield site on that itinerary!

    - Our school tours start at £39 for a day to Ypres and we are open to discussion regarding subsidy for children from deprived areas or in need.

    - In partnership with Travelscope plc, we have won our contracts for battlefield tours for Army Recruits as the result of competitive tenders.


    The costs of a Poppy Travel tour don't compare directly either with packaged holidays or flight only deals from the Internet.

    Pilgrimages include the cost of a doctor and a tour manager. The
    Legion pays for other Legion representation. Battlefield Tours include a battlefield guide.

    All of our tours include a very high degree of customisation.

    - If you want to visit a particular grave, memorial or site we will include it if at all possible in that tour area. Its not an extra excursion tacked on. Its part of the deal.

    - If you want help finding out about a particular individual, our staff at Legionline or Remembrance Travel will help as much as they can. We will we help you to find out where someone is buried or what unit they were in. We can also try to help you to find out where someone might have served and explain what happened to them.

    - We don't follow all of the tricks of the cut price travel trade. For example, we cannot plan tours on a very aggressive price based on an assumption that the tour will only run if we have 100% occupancy and cancel if we only get 80%! Our tours are costed on pragmatic assumptions about how many people are likely to visit a destination. We have to be mindful of the emotions of people planning what might be the trip of their life driven by the need to make a personal act of Remembrance.

    The pricing of our tours is always under review and we are always open to ideas and feedback.
     
  6. Yes again , this does not benefit veterans old and young on low incomes or incapacity benefit etc etc.....The scope for younger veterans is still very limited. Again on a broader scale, all i see in RBL clubs is old veterans, and young single mothers and scumbags(No service ties whatsoever), after cheap booze!

    If the RBL do not wake up it will become a thing of the past. As older veterans die off, younger veterans(Falklands, Gulf, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, Northern Ireland) will not carry on the RBL! It is a shame but that is what seems to be happening. As for the tours as time whizzes by, all conflicts seem to be forgotten! In schools i know off, they do not bother teaching about world wars 1/2 and sacrifices made!! Life in general seems to be taken for granted. I feel for todays younger veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan totally isolated. Tony's Government do not care a less!

    The Northern Ireland Veterans Association are not allowed to march as an Association because of some numpty at pall mall??? Northern Ireland the bloodiest and longest conflict in europe and on British soil since world wars 1/2. Lets start looking into the future!
     
  7. Also do army recruits and school parties pay for tours?
     
  8. Tommo16

    Thank you for your comments and feedback. You obviously feel strongly about the need for the Legion to look to the future.

    Last November The Legion has published a consultation document about its strategy 2006-2010, based on research about the welfare needs of the ex service community carried out in 2005-6.

    Here is a link to it.

    http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/index.cfm?asset_id=513625

    The deadline for responses is over. However if you feel strongly about the proposed strategy, completing and returning the feedback questionnaire is probably the best route to getting your views to the people who can do something about them.

    Regarding your other questions, we charge Armed Forces Recruits and the parents of school children for tours. However, the majority of recruits who are making a first trip can claim most of the money back from funds within the ITG system. Recruits back-squadded often choose to pay to make a second trip with their new platoon. We are also open to discussion regarding financial assistance for schoolchildren who might not otherwise be able to afford a trip.
     
  9. Lets hope the RBL in there clubs start looking at some of its members too. I mean all i see at times, is layabouts, down and outers getting cheap booze!

    When a serviceman/women of today leave, they have no where to turn too. I mean, okay they go off down the legion as a civvy having left the forces. They see what is happening inside the RBL clubs. Okay f*** this not going back there! Some regiments/corps have freedom parades and the like. I always find older veterans getting invites. Younger veterans don't get a look in!! (That is not RBL'S fault but regimental/corps!)

    There should be a campaign for younger veterans to be treated with respect. I for one am sick and tired of RBL, SAFFA etc etc..... we the working class younger veterans need to make a stand like the us vietnam vets did!! We veterans of Falklands, Gulf War 1, Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda, sierre Leonne, Iraq, Afghanistan, northern Ireland. lets stand up and be counted!!!
     
  10. Well said Tommo.

    Thought that i'd add my two pennies worth. My Regt Assc used PT last year. I won't say what Reg or location of visit in order to protect the guilty.
    You should understand that our Branch Sec usually does all the arrangements himslf and so far all our battlefield tours have been an outstanding success. Anyway, last year we used PT. Our Assc members are mainly under 60 and our 'wars' included the modern conflicts as mentioned by Tommo, but we are still interested in the battles fought by our former Regts.

    PT arranged for the 1st RV/check in, to be at 0600 at Stanstead Airport...yep, 0600. Now we all belong to the London Branch of our Assc ,so getting to Stanstead wasn't the biggest logistical event we'd ever been involved with but was still a pain to get there at that time and involved for some of us, 3am rouse or staying near the airport the night before. On arrival at the tour location we were all given a name badge (cue loads of blazing saddles comments 'Badges?...we don't need no stinking badges'. We wore them in the spirit of things but name badges? come on.

    The tour was good and interesting but PT had the annoying habit of keeping one of their team as the last man.It made you feel like naughty school boys on a visit to the Science museum with the teacher at the back to keep an eye on you...considering most of us were Snco's in a previous life it was pretty laughable and of course, some of us would go out of our way to hang around at the back of the group and then bomburst.....you can imagine my delight when i noticed that the only one not wearing a name badge was one of the PT Team, it was even better when i found the feckin' thing lying on the floor of the court yard of this certain location.

    It was run like a school journey, with all morning meetings at very early times and constant registers being taken. Of course timings were tight, of course we had to meet coaches and travel distances to locations and of course time tables had to be adhered to but i feel that PT were a bit over organised for our group and were better served for the 'proper' old soldiers of the 70 plus age group who may have needed and appreciated the tightly structured itinery?

    Well, that was my take on it. This years tour was run by Furlongs Travel - 'check in' was at a civilised 2pm at Gatwick and guess what?..no one got lost or missed a 'roll call'....

    I didn't intend any of the above to come across as unhelpful criticism but maybe it would be an idea for PT to contact Furlongs, if you haven't already? and share ideas and resources?

    Cheers,

    PJ
     
  11. P-T,

    Thank you for your constructive criticsim. I think we have worked out which tour you are referring to.

    The essence of your observation is that the service delivered to this particular tour was more appropriate for a more elderly group and that the flights were inconveniently early.

    We will look at the points you raised and see if we can avoid these problems in future.
     
  12. I happened to see this thread and would like to take the opportunity to express appreciation for PT's work on a recent trip to Normandy for the 65th anniversary of D-Day, in which my veteran dad and mum (aged 95 + 81 respectively) participated. They really enjoyed the entire experience and deeply appreciated the great care shown, good organisation and attention to detail on the part of the trip organisers throughout. True they were there at the expense of the national Lottery - it was not a trip they paid for, but as far as everything apart from cost is concerned - PT did a superb job.