Poppy seller retires after almost a century of dedicated service

Rosemary Powell with Legion beneficiary, Nick Fleming
Rosemary Powell with Legion beneficiary, Nick Fleming
Image: Royal British Legion

Britain's longest-serving poppy seller is to hang up her collecting tin after 97 years.

Rosemary Powell, 103, believed to be Britain’s longest-serving and oldest poppy seller, is planning to hand over to a new generation of fundraisers as she is “getting old”.

As a child she lived close to where poppies were made in Richmond and sold them on Twickenham Bridge for the Royal British Legion’s first Poppy Appeal in 1921 at the age of six, alongside her mother Evelyn.

She has sold poppies ever since, even when living abroad with her husband, and has carried on since she moved into a nursing home three years ago.

Recalling the first poppy appeal, Powell, a widow and great-grandmother, said: “The poppies were so popular I remember that we ran out in no time.”
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, and she also lost two godfathers and three uncles during World War 1.

In 2015, she moved to a nursing home but continued collecting for the appeal by selling poppies to fellow residents.

Her son Giles Powell said he was incredibly proud of his mother.

“Mum has led a fascinating life and now it’s time for her to hang up her collecting tin and encourage the public to volunteer their time to the Legion, which is a fantastic cause.”

Emma Cannings, director of membership and volunteers at the Royal British Legion, described Powell as an incredible woman.

“Her volunteering effort has been nothing short of phenomenal, and we are incredibly thankful for her support over the generations,” she said. – The Telegraph