Belfast Telegraph

Poppy seller retiring after 97 years

By Claire Hayhurst

A former Second World War nurse is planning to retire from selling poppies later this year after a remarkable 97 years of collecting for the appeal.

Rosemary Powell (103) helped her mother sell poppies on Twickenham Bridge for the Royal British Legion's first Poppy Appeal in 1921 when aged six.

The great-grandmother, from London, is now planning to hang up her collection tin and hand over to a new generation of fundraisers as she is "getting old".

She is currently believed to be Britain's longest serving, and oldest, poppy seller.

Mrs Powell, a widow, said: "I sold poppies last year, maybe not as enthusiastically as previous years, but this year will probably be my last year of selling. I'm getting old now.

"Ever since the age of six, I've been selling poppies and I remember it all so well. Collecting has kept me going all these years."

Mrs Powell lived close to where poppies were made in Richmond for the first Poppy Appeal and sold them on Twickenham Bridge with her mother, Evelyn.

"The poppies were so popular I remember that we ran out in no time," she said.

Her father, Charles Ashton James, served with the 126th Baluchistan Infantry and was left wounded after being shot in the head during the Battle of the Somme.

She lost two godfathers and three uncles during the First World War.

Her first fiance, Robin Ellis, a commander in the Royal Navy, died in 1944 when the Lancaster bomber he was flying in crashed near Inverness. And Mrs Powell's younger brother Peter, a major in the Army, also died during the Second World War.

Belfast Telegraph

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