A poppy seller who has taken over Olive Cooke’s fundraising spot says she is “honoured” by the privilege but insists: “Nobody can fill Olive’s shoes”.
Olive, 92, was Britain’s oldest and longest-serving poppy seller and stood outside Bristol Cathedral selling the emblems for the bulk of her 76 years of fundraising.
But she died earlier this year after receiving repeated requests from charities and feeling low about her health.
Now Anne Harrison has been handed Olive’s old ‘patch’ after being inspired to do more collecting for the British Legion when she heard about the pensioner’s death.
Anne, of Kingswood, Bristol, said: “I think it’s a very special thing.
“I have been collecting for a few years for the British Legion in Kingswood but this year I particularly felt moved to go and give some time to the Poppy Appeal in Bristol to commemorate with Olive did.
“76 years she collected for – she was doing it when I was a baby.
“I’m not doing this to step into Olive’s shoes.
“I offered some time to help the Poppy Appeal in the Bristol area, but I’m also collecting in the Kingswood area, as I have done for years.
“Nobody could fill Olive’s shoes – nobody – but it is important that the collecting at the cathedral continues as OIive’s legacy.
“I’m honoured to carry on what Olive did for years.”
Treasured Olive, from Bristol, began selling poppies in 1938 when she was just 16 after her father served in Gallipoli during WWI.
The great-grandmother dedicated almost eight decades to raising thousands of pounds, selling an estimated 30,000 poppies in 76 years.
But after years of ploughing through thousands of begging letters and charity appeals, she suffered with low mood, depression and sleepless nights.
She died at Avon Gorge, Bristol, in May, after suffering with years of low mood and fearing she would lose her independence.
On Friday members of her family proudly stood on her selling spot outside the cathedral at the launch of the British Legion appeal in the city.
Her daughter Kathryn King and stepdaughter Carol Balson were presented with a ceramic poppy from the Tower of London to mark her tireless fundraising.
And on Saturday, Anne – who lost her father during the Dunkirk evacuation – started collecting at the spot.
“I grew up never knowing my father so this is something I have want to do for that reason, but more importantly people are still being injured in conflicts all over,” she said.
“The money that’s spent by the British Legion from the donations is not just on something that happened years ago.”