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I did it for all those who died… poppy seller retires at 103

‘Incredible woman’: Rosemary Powell with her tin

BRITAIN’S longest-serving poppy seller is hanging up her collection tin after an incredible 97 years of raising funds for war veterans.

Rosemary Powell, 103, was six when, in 1921, she helped her mum sell poppies on Richmond Bridge for the Royal British Legion’s first Poppy Appeal.

The great-grandmother, a widow who served as a nurse in World War II, said: ‘I sold poppies last year, maybe not as enthusiastically as previous years, but this year will probably be my last year. I’m getting old now.’

Nursing: Mrs Powell in World War II PICTURES: ROYAL BRITISH LEGION/PA

Mrs Powell lived close to where poppies were made in Richmond, south-west London, for the first appeal and sold them with her mother Evelyn.

‘They were so popular we ran out in no time,’ she said. Her mother ‘nipped over’ to a shop, bought red crepe paper and made her own ‘very simple little poppies’. ‘We soon sold out again,’ said Mrs Powell.

She lost two godfathers and three uncles in World War I and her father, Charles, was wounded at the Somme. Her first fiancé, Robin Ellis, a Royal Navy commander, died in 1944 in a Lancaster bomber crash near Inverness. Her younger brother Peter, an Army major, was killed in World War II.

‘Sadly, war has had a significant impact on my life,’ said Mrs Powell, and the Poppy Appeal ‘has always been a very important cause for me’, adding: ‘We did it in memory of those men who were killed, for their sacrifice.’

Her son Giles said her achievement was ‘staggering’, while the British Legion called her ‘an incredible woman’.