A RECORD number of runners and walkers took part in the third annual Great Gwent Poppy Run today at a sun-drenched, yet windy Cwmcarn.

The seven-mile scenic route took place at Cwmcarn Forest Drive, where more than 136 runners of all ages and abilities had registered for the event. More were in attendance on the day despite the heavy wind and rain experienced the previous night.

The Great Gwent Poppy Run is the major fundraising event outside the main poppy appeal for the committee of Gwent County Royal British Legion.

Mike Jones, Gwent Poppy Appeal Co-ordinator, said: "This is our third year and our support is growing, I am delighted with the turnout.

“We thank the people of Gwent in these challenging times for their continued support of the Poppy Appeal. We are aiming to provide valuable funds for the essential welfare work of the British legion in support the men, women and families of our service community.

“Our sponsors Supplement Central have been working hard with us promoting the run, which raises valuable funds and has got a lot of people talking about the Poppy Appeal."

Many runners were taking part in the event for the first time, including 40-year-old Robert Bickel, from Caerleon. He said: “It was really good. It was for people of all abilities and not just the athletes. I haven’t been here in 30 years and it’s beautiful. I tried to join the army when I was 25 but they told me I wasn’t strong enough. But I’ve always supported the armed forces and it’s good to be doing this for a good cause.”

Sam Cochrane, 24, and Sam Price, 18, both from Cwmbran, were also running the race for the first time.

Mr Cochrane said: “We’re trying to get into the Marines so we thought this would be a good practice!” Mr Price added: “It’s great to be doing it for such a good cause.”

Michael Palmer, 31, from Malpas in Newport, said: “This was my first time here, and my first time running for charity so it’s good to be doing it for a nice cause as well.”

Richie Donovan, 42, from Newport, said: “It’s my time first time and I struggled a bit to be honest! It’s for a great cause and it was good to do it here – it’s so picturesque. It’s the most beautiful place in Gwent.”

Also taking part in the event on her 57th birthday was Ponthir resident Mary Murray, who walked the route with her daughter and her friend.

Mrs Murray said: “It’s a very worthy cause and we need to help the young men and women of today. It’s not just for the people from the old wars.”

Last year, the Poppy Appeal in Gwent raised a total of £273,843.

For more information about membership or volunteering contact Mike Jones on 07875089933, email majones@britishlegion.org.uk, or contact community fundraiser Lynne Woodyatt on 01685 389103 or on email lwoodyatt@britishlegion.org.uk.