Remembrance Day: Volunteers selling poppies in Newham
- Credit: photo: Arnaud Stephenson
Step into a station, supermarket or shopping centre in the two weeks leading up to Remembrance Day and chances are you’ll come across a poppy seller.
Betty Hill and Brenda Lawley are just two of the many volunteers who give up their time to man the stalls and help raise millions for the Royal British Legion.
Nestled just inside the doorway of the Stratford branch of Morrisons, the two ladies spend many hours selling poppies.
“We get here at 10 each morning, and we’re here until about five in the evening,” explained Betty, 67.
“I also sell them from my house, and I’ve sold about 1000 from there so far.”
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It’s not just your regular paper poppy on sale, either. The stall has pin poppies in several different designs, knitted poppies made by a friend of Betty’s and wooden memorial crosses with a poppy attached.
Then there are pencils, bracelets and temporary tattoos.
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“It’s not just children who buy them; we get a lot of adults too,” said Brenda, 73.
“We get a lot of people who recognise us and come over.”
Brenda and Betty, who both live in Plaistow, joined the East Ham branch of the Royal British Legion as their husbands have both served in the Army.
In addition to attending weekly meetings, Legion members take part in the Jack Cornwell and Remembrance Day parades.
Betty is the branch’s social secretary and organises trips and fundraising events.
She said: “The poppies got delivered to the hall a couple of weeks ago, but I’ve also got some of the items left from last year.
“I like to keep some back as we get a lot of demand throughout the year, especially for cards.”
In just half an hour, the stall attracts a wide range of people. A young boy asks his grandfather if he can buy a poppy, while two police officers stop and buy a bracelet each.
Shoppers of all ages and backgrounds pause for a minute or two to look and buy a poppy of some sort to support the Legion’s work.
“We couldn’t do it without the help of Pat Moyle, who’s the store’s community champion,” said Betty.
“She’s the one that arranges it all and lets us store the table in here overnight.
“It’s a great place to be; the staff are really friendly.”
Last year, their stall raised more than £3,000 and they hope to surpass that figure.
“We get a lot of support,” said Brenda. “So many people come over and buy, it’s really great to see.”