A VOLUNTEER, who has helped war veterans through the annual Poppy Appeal for almost 70 years, is stepping down next year.
Mildred Pelling, 78, of Northampton Way, St Leonards, started helping her mother sell poppies in town from 1947 when she was just 11.
She then became honorary Poppy Appeal organiser for Hastings and St Leonards in 1990 and has been in that position ever since.
But the charity stalwart has decided to call it a day and organisers of the Poppy Appeal will be looking for a successor to fill her shoes.
Mrs Pelling said: “I started helping my mum sell poppies in Hastings when I was just 11 and as soon as I was old enough joined the organisation. In 1990 I was asked to sit in with the Poppy Appeal organiser. I agreed but the very next day she had to go into hospital so I was thrown in at the deep end.”
This year generous members of the public helped raise almost £50,300 for the Poppy Appeal in town.
Mrs Pelling said: “In 1990 it was just over £9,000 and has gone up year on year since.
“We have a very good team of people who help each year but there is an awful lot of paperwork. I’ve been lucky because I’ve had my family behind me for support.”
Her role involves making sure more than 400 tins and Poppy Appeal trays are available in shops and businesses around town for people to make a donation.
She has to make the order each June and find a base for three weeks each year in November.
Her son Gary is a civilian instructor for the Army Cadets and her eldest son Shaun serves with them. One of her grandsons served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mrs Pelling’s husband Ron, is chairman of the local Royal British Legion, and has been involved with the Poppy Appeal since the 1950s.
Mrs Pelling said: “The thing I’ve enjoyed the most working for the Poppy Appeal is knowing that you are helping those in need.”