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A Sunny morning in London

Sen'Derrick Marks and Marcedes Lewis help tribute the British troops with poppies at the Tower of London.

Written by Brian Sexton

When Jaguars defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks climbed aboard the mini-bus from the Grove outside London for the hour ride into the city he had almost no idea what the morning would bring.

"Tell me about this poppy deal," he asked earnestly. "Today is a day for learning, man, I'm all about learning everything I can about the UK today."

A quick explanation of the Royal British Legion's annual Poppy Drive to support military members who have returned from conflict was all it took to engage Marks and tight end Marcedes Lewis.

The two veterans who already understood the virtues of the Jaguars relationship with the military in Jacksonville were quick to grab the boxes of plastic poppies upon arrival outside the Tower of London and began to mingle through the crowd accepting donations and pinning poppies on shirts and jackets.

"This is cool, man. Look at all those poppies," said Lewis as he pointed to the nearly 900,000 plastic poppies in the moat surrounding the Tower, representing the nearly 900,000 men and women who lost their lives during World War 1. "And everyone out here wants to show their support wearing one, so do we."

The Annual Poppy Appeal was founded in the aftermath of World War 1 by the Legion to commemorate those lost in the fight. It's grown throughout the UK to encompass those who have fought for Great Britain in every conflict since.

Few of the folks strolling around the plaza overlooking the ancient building actually knew who was selling the poppies but were impressed when they found out.

"They're American footballers?" asked Helen Davis from Putney. "I don't know them individually but they must be fine men to help us help our military."

Marks owns the perfect, engaging personality for such an event and true to form enjoyed the sunny morning getting to know the locals.

"It's been amazing. I don't want to leave," Marks explained to the folks who took his box of poppies. "I could hang here all day."

Their morning in London's Central District offered one more opportunity to show support for the UK military before Remembrance Sunday

Jaguars players coached 100 youth on how the fundamentals of football.

Jaguars visit Headley Court

Running backs Toby Gerhart, Will Ta'ufo'ou and Eric Kettani toured the Defense Medical Rehabilitation Unit at Headley Court, visited with rehabbing soldiers.

Written by J.P. Shadrick

Epsom, England – With Remembrance Sunday coming up this week, the Jaguars visited injured and rehabilitating British Armed Forces members at Headley Court on Tuesday morning.

Jaguars running back Toby Gerhart, along with fullbacks Will Ta'ufo'ou and Eric Kettani, along with members of the ROAR of the Jaguars cheerleaders, toured the rehabilitation facility and met with service members and civilian therapists.

Kettani, a graduate of the United States Naval Academy who spent two years on active duty, said he appreciated what the facility provides for service members.

"They treat the soldiers here like athletes it seems like, with the weights to the cardio, absolutely everything," Kettani said. "Here it seems like a campus."

The main home on the property at Headley Court was the one-time home of the First Baron Cunliffe, formerly Governor of the Bank of England and Chairman of the London and North Eastern Railway Company. In 1946, the Royal Air Force obtained the facility and after World War II it became a rehabilitation center for injured pilots and air crew. The facility later started serving all three services of the British Armed Forces.

Today, the Headley Court facility includes multiple buildings with gymnasiums, workout facilities, pools and outdoor activities such as gardening and a nine-hole chip-and-putt golf course.

"The most impressive thing was the total encompassing of all aspects of what they do for the soldier," Kettani added. "Mentally, morally, physically, socially they take everything all in here. It's an outdoor environment, you can walk to different facilities and they do an amazing job."

For most combat casualties, Headley Court is the final stage of the recovery process. Set on 85 acres, the center includes a hydrotherapy pool, swimming pool, four fully equipped gyms and a state-of-the-art limb-fitting and amputee center.

A patient can receive an artificial limb within two days of a first appointment with Headley Court's limb laboratory technicians.

The facility has three main focuses, including two-to-four week courses for sports injures, traffic accidents or strokes, a neuro ward that focuses on head injuries and mental recovery and, finally, complex trauma, including amputees.

Captain Gary Wallace, who led the tour of the facility, said that the rehabilitation center is slated to be moved from Headley Court in the coming years.

"It was recently announced that this place would cease to exist as a rehab center," Wallace said during the tour. "It's going to move further up the country to a new Defense National Rehabilitation Center."

The facility is set to remain open until 2018.

Sunday's game at Wembley Stadium between the Dallas Cowboys and Jacksonville Jaguars falls on Remembrance Sunday, a day in the United Kingdom traditionally put aside to remember all those who have given their lives for peace and freedom. Remembrance Sunday falls each year on the second Sunday in November.

This article is presented by VisitFlorida.com.

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