Inquest opens into death of tragic veteran poppy seller Olive Cooke


Britain’s longest serving poppy seller left a “couple of notes” for her family before she was seen to jump from a clifftop, an inquest heard yesterday (Wed)


Olive Cooke, 92, fell to her death after suffering depression caused by a number of factors including endless calls from charity ‘chuggers’ and relentless aid ‘appeal’ junk mail.

It is claimed treasured Olive “lost faith in people” two months ago when £250 in cash she sent to a relative went missing in the post.

She was also overwhelmed by the constant phone calls and up to 260 begging letters a month from charities pestering her for cash.

Tragic Olive was found dead on a cliff face overlooking Clifton Suspension Bridge after she was spotted jumping from a ledge on May 6.

A short hearing at Avon Coroner’s Court, in Flax Bourton, near Bristol, yesterday (weds) heard how she died from multiple injuries.


Linda Grove, coroner’s officer, said: “She was a widowed lady, a retired post mistress by trade.

“She was confirmed deceased on the 6th May 2015 at 18.29 by one paramedic at the cliff face, Portway, Bristol.

“She was later identified by her grandson, Kevin King, at the coroner’s court.

“She had long term issues with periodic depression and low mood.

“On May 6 she was seen jumping from the observatory, near Clifton Suspension Bridge and she was confirmed dead.

“A post mortem report is still outstanding but her cause of death was multiple injuries.”

Olive started selling poppies in 1938 when she was just 16 after her father served in Gallipoli during WWI.

She vowed to continue after the death of her first husband Leslie in action during World War II when she was just 21.

The great-grandmother dedicated almost eight decades to raising thousands of pounds, selling an estimated 30,000 poppies in 76 years.

Assistant Coroner, Terence Moore, said: “I do indeed open the inquest into this morning touching on the death of Olive Lilian Cooke.”

He instructed reports from Olive’s GP, the police officer who arrived at the scene and Olive’s family.

He added: “I understand there were a couple of notes left by Olive Cooke, we will need these authenticated by the family.”

The inquest was adjourned until Thursday July 16.


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