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Last Updated: Monday, 24 October 2005, 14:08 GMT 15:08 UK
Poppy appeal aims to raise 25m
Michael Vaughan and Lance Corporal David Hart
Lance Corporal David Hart and Michael Vaughan backed the appeal
This year's Poppy Appeal to raise funds for former servicemen and women has been launched by England cricket captain Michael Vaughan.

Urging people to buy and wear the red flower badges "with pride", Vaughan paid tribute to the veterans.

He said his winning Ashes team had been called heroes but "the real heroes are those who have literally put their lives on the line for us".

The appeal aims to raise 25m to help veterans of all conflicts.

At the official launch, Vaughan was joined by Lance Corporal David Hart, who has been helped by the Royal British Legion's poppy fund.

I know the very real difference it can make to peoples' lives
Lance Corporal David Hart

He was injured in 2004 while on patrol with the Devonshire and Dorset Rifle Volunteers in Afghanistan.

He suffered horrific head and arm injuries when his unit was attacked by a suicide bomber.

The legion offered him financial support and retraining when he was no longer able to do his Army job.

"Having had first-hand knowledge of how the Poppy Appeal helps service people from current, as well as past conflicts, I know the very real difference it can, and does, make to peoples' lives," he said.

The fund helps not only veterans but the families of those who have lost their lives.

Director of fundraising, Russell Thompson, said 2005 was 60 years since the end of World War II and the it was a "last major chance to thank all those ordinary men and women who went on to do extraordinary things 60 years ago".

But he stressed there are many servicemen and women being injured and killed in today's conflicts who equally need help.

Around 35m paper poppies are expected to be sold in the run-up to Remembrance Day.

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