THE Cumbria and Isle of Man annual poppy appeal has surpassed £700,000 for the first time ever.

This year's 2018-19 appeal for the Royal British Legion, which launched on October 1, hit the record milestone within the last week.

The latest round of fundraising was boosted by a number of special events held to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War.

The Legion is the nation's biggest armed forces charity, providing care and support to all members of the British Armed Forces both past and present and their families.

It is a champion of remembrance and safeguards the Military Covenant between the nation and its armed forces.

Judith Reay, community fundraiser for Cumbria and the Isle of Man, told The Cumberland News: "We are delighted to announce that our poppy appeal has broken the £700,000 mark for the very first time.

"A huge thank you to our amazing teams of volunteers and supporters across Cumbria and the Isle of Man, the poppy appeal total currently stands at £726 301.87.

"Our end of year total for 2017-18 was £687,000 so this is an amazing increase."

Within the area of Cumbria alone, the appeal hit the £500,000 mark for the first time last year.

Judith added: "[This year] we have smashed that total and currently stand at £579 058.33.

"With five months of fundraising in this 2018-19 poppy appeal still to go, we would love to hit £600,000 in Cumbria."

A range of fundraising events will be held during the summer, including Leg it for the Legion 5k walk and 10k fun runs in Carlisle and Douglas on Sunday, July 7.

"We had such an overwhelming response from our supporters during centenary year," Judith continued.

During the main two-week appeal between the end of October and mid-November, poppies were available across the country in every hamlet, village, town and city.

Displays of poppies were seen across the county, from Aspatria to Appleby and Brampton to Barrow, with thousands of hand knitted poppies which helped to raise the awareness of the centenary but also helped to raise such an amazing total.

As part of the fundraising, a special 'Cumbria Thank You Day' was held, which involved collections along the west coast Virgin Trains service, with students from Lakes College and personnel from the Duke of Lancs Regiment between Carlisle and Lancaster.

Carlisle parkrun also supported the appeal by holding a 'run to remember' involving 300 runners wearing red in Chances Park last November.

Cumbria Police vehicles were also the first across the country to wear poppies with pride, every vehicle displayed a poppy throughout November.

At Carlisle United, supporters helped raise almost £4,000 from the sale of special CUFC Poppy pins and a collection at Brunton Park during the appeal.

Judith added: "The Royal British Legion’s work is entirely dependent on the public’s generous support – so everyone who wears their poppy with pride is digging deep, knowing that they are supporting our Armed Forces community.

"This amazing total is all down to our amazing teams of volunteers and the generosity of each and person who has supported and donated to the poppy appeal – thank you Cumbria and the Isle of Man."