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Auschwitz surviving war hero Ron Jones still selling poppies at 100 years old

A former soldier who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp is selling poppies for the Royal British Legion at the age of 100.

Ron Jones, who marked his centenary on April 30, volunteers at his local supermarket.

Grandfather-of-two Mr Jones, from Bassaleg near Newport, South Wales, has been collecting for the Poppy Appeal since 1981.

He was called up to fight in 1940 and served as a lance corporal in 1st Battalion Welch Regiment in the Middle East.

Mr Jones was captured in Benghazi in 1942 and, after nine months in Italy, was transferred to forced labour camp E715, part of Auschwitz.

After two years of being held at the camp, he was forced to join the "death march" of prisoners across Europe in 1945.

He was freed by American troops and finally returned home to Newport and his wife Gladys in May 1945, having dropped from 13 stone to just 7 stone.

Mr Jones worked at the city's docks until his retirement in 1980, then began collecting for the Poppy Appeal the following year.

"I've been selling poppies for about 30 years, I go down to Tesco every year for a fortnight, practically every day," he said.

"I like to do a lot for the British Legion as we help dependants, we help the boys coming back from Afghanistan.

"If they need help, I'm there.

"I've made as much as £15,000 occasionally, but normally we get up to nine or ten thousand."

When asked whether he would ever retire from his role, Mr Jones replied firmly: "No." The pensioner admitted that he has become "a bit of a celebrity" at the Tesco on the Harlech Retail Park where he sells poppies.

Customers come in each year looking for him, with one woman driving from London to Newport to specifically buy a poppy from Mr Jones.

"She put £20 in my box, that's what happens," Mr Jones said.

He usually volunteers for three hours each day but takes on a double shift, lasting for six hours, for three days of the appeal.

Last week he attended the launch for the 2017 Poppy Appeal in Newport and refused a chair, standing instead for the 45-minute ceremony.

Mr Jones, whose wife died in 2005, said the Legion had been there for his friends who returned home after the war and needed help.

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