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Army nurse among faces of this year’s poppy appeal

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An Army nurse is among current service personnel to feature in a Royal British Legion campaign urging the public to “rethink remembrance”.

Corporal Ben Poku is one of the faces of the campaign designed to challenge perceptions that Remembrance Day and the annual poppy appeal are just about the First and Second World Wars.

This year the charity is trying to highlight the sacrifices and support needed by a new generation of veterans from recent conflicts around the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

A nurse for more than 10 years, Cpl Poku’s real-life experiences and image feature in a large interactive video installation by St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

The campaign follows a survey by the British Legion, which found most people associate both Remembrance Day and the charity itself with elderly veterans and WW1 and WW2.

Royal British Legion

Army nurse among faces of this year’s poppy appeal

Corporal Ben Poku

Only just over a third of people surveyed associated the annual remembrance event on 11 November with those currently serving in the British armed forces.

Cpl Poku, who is 34, joined the army when he was 18 and went on to become a nurse with the prestigious Queen Alexandra Royal Army Nursing Corps, after serving three years in the artillery.

He was deployed in Iraq during his nursing training. “It was a challenge to go over there in a nursing role and apply the training I was doing but it was a great introduction to becoming a nurse,” he said.

Currently posted at Headley Court rehabilitation centre in Surrey, he works with injured soldiers on the neurological ward, helping them get back to the army or to embark on civilian life.

In addition to his day job, he has been a volunteer case worker for the British Legion since 2007 supporting service men and women who need immediate and long-term support.

The campaign focuses on the story of how he cared for a severely burned soldier and fellow Ghanaian, who was struggling to come to terms with his injuries and tell his family about them.

“I was able to travel back home with him to make sure his family took the news in good faith,” said Cpl Poku.

“I also wanted to make sure there was a balance in the care that was provided,” he said. “When we were in Ghana, we involved a psychologist to help talk the family and this guy through it.

“I was worried about how it would turn out, but in the end it was a really happy moment for this individual,” he added.

Royal British Legion

Army nurse among faces of this year’s poppy appeal

Marsie Taylor

In the video, which features older veterans recounting the stories of younger service personnel, his experiences of helping the soldier are relayed by WW2 naval veteran Marsie Taylor, aged 97.

Cpl Poku, who is coming to the end of his service and will be leaving the army next year, said he was looking forward to becoming a nurse in civilian life.

However, he is not entirely leaving the military behind, as he is planning to join the reserves and will continue volunteering for the legion.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • My advice to Ben Copu is to stay in the QARANC. I thank you and all the other medical personnel in all services for your care given to both military and civilians who have been caught up in war and conflict.

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