Plaistow RAF veteran, 90, collects �27,000 for Royal British Legion

An extraordinary 90-year-old Plaistow war veteran was honoured at Buckingham Palace for raising �27,000 for the Royal British Legion.

John Mercer, who has lived in Newham for around 40 years, says he “got serious” about collecting for the Legion’s Poppy Appeal about five years ago.

Together with his partner Ruby, the pair have raised an astounding �27,357.49 fundraising around central London in busy locations such as Oxford Street and Fleet Street.

John served in Germany and Belgium amongst other conflicts in the 463 Squadron of the Royal Air Force attached to the Royal Australian Squadron but now he attends the East Ham Legion although he is a member of the Dagenham branch.

Both Ruby and John said they fundraise so hard for the forces charity because it is a cause close to their hearts.

Ruby said: “They’re very good to us. I had a serious operation and they sent us away for a fortnight.

“We went to Weston-Super-Mare last year and that’s where we heard about the garden party at Buckingham Palace.”

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As reward for his achievements, John and Ruby were invited to a royal garden party last year held in honour of veterans of the forces.

A special day for them both, the couple said they did not meet the Queen but they were very impressed with Princess Anne who came over to speak to them.

John said: “It was a really lovely day. Anne was very good, she was very down to earth.”

John turned 90 on Thursday (June 14) and celebrated by going bowling with Ruby and hosting a fancy dress party on Saturday night.

According to Ruby “If they’re not in fancy dress, he won’t let them in” and the pair surprised guests by dressing up as convicts.

The wife of John’s nephew, Judy Payne, contacted the Recorder to tell us about his achievements, calling him “our wonderful Uncle John.”

John has also been in the Recorder for receiving an Outstanding Citizen Award from Newham Council in 2007.