West Norfolk Mayor presents awards to poppy appeal collectors
A ceremony at Lynn Town Hall saw volunteers awarded for their longevity in collecting for the poppy appeal in aid of the Royal British Legion.
Joan Route received recognition for 55 years of service and a posthumous award was also presented in honour of her late husband Cyril, who would have completed 60 years of fundraising. Paul Chase received his award for 20 years of volunteering and contribution to the charity.
The Royal British Legion is at the heart of a national network, helping give support wherever and whenever it’s needed to the Armed Forces community since 1921. By reaching their centenary this year it shows just how long the volunteers have been giving their time to the charity.
Lynn Hatch, country fundraiser for the poppy appeal presented the awards to the beneficiaries and said:"Thanks to everyone for over more than 50 years service. It's down to people like these volunteers to enable us to do the work we do."
It was emotional for family and friends attending, with children and also grandchildren present. Mrs Hatch is known as Joany the poppy lady and wished her late husband Cyril could have received his award, but sadly he passed away last year.
She said: "Cyril would have loved it. The British Legion was what he worked for, starting in 1960 with his book knocking on people's doors."
Known as the poppy family, Cyril and Joan would walk door to door and any families in need would receive a donation. Joan said: "We would walk from Tennyson Avenue to Southgate and it took a fortnight. Every afternoon we did the poppy appeal.
"Over the years people in need such as war widows and veterans would received a donation. Back then there was no winter fuel allowance so it could be a gas stove, coal or help with electric and assistance to get through Christmas."
Joan's poppy collecting patch in Lynn was outside Boots and Cyril collected outside Sainsbury's. Their grand daughter Louise said "I think how the British Legion has reached 100 years and that they have done fundraising for half of that is amazing."
Robbie Hipkin, chairman of the King's Lynn district branch of the Royal British Legion described Joan as "wonder gran". Joan said:"More like wonder great-gran."
Grandson Adam who brought his baby son, Cyril and Joan's great grandson, along said:" It means a lot and I have fond memories helping them make the poppies up. They've done a lot for the Royal British Legion and people were always happy to see Cyril.
"It's a massive milestone and unfortunately he couldn't be here. I have memories to tell my son."
Twenty years of service was awarded to Paul Chase who adorns his Harley Davidson trike with poppies. He said:"Today means everything. It is nice to be recognised. I used to collect in Bircham and now I am outside Wilkos."
Mr Chase's daughter Sarah said:" I am very proud of what he has done, he is very committed and collecting outside Wilkos six days a week. I work at Wilkos so it is a family effort."
The ceremony was introduced by borough mayor, Harry Humphrey. He said:"It is a pleasure to give these awards and the great work that the volunteers do. Thank you for all the work that you've done and on behalf of Cyril, his memory will last forever in your hearts."
Further Royal British Legion fundraising events will be taking place this ear. Karin Hipkin, branch community support worker said:"It's been amazing and heart touching. It choked me up seeing Joan and such a shame that Cyril isn't here. All the volunteers work really hard."
The mayor will be hosting a black tie event at the Town Hall, Friday, Sepetmber, 17, in aid of the War Widows and Poppy Appeal.