Britain’s longest-serving poppy seller has died at the age of 103, nine days after being presented with an MBE.
Rosemary Powell helped her mother sell poppies on Richmond Bridge for the Royal British Legion’s first Poppy Appeal in 1921, aged six.
She spent the next 97 years collecting for the charity, but announced earlier this year that she would be hanging up her tin for the final time.
The great-grandmother, from London, was included in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her remarkable service to the Legion.
On August 6, she sat draped in a poppy-patterned blanket and was handed the MBE on behalf of the Queen by the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London, Colonel Jane Davis. She died on August 15.
Powell is survived by three sons, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Her support for the Legion will continue after her death, with a donation from each copy of her memoir going to the charity.
In an obituary, her family said: “She had known the cost of war.
“Four of her uncles died in the First World War; another was a lifelong invalid from Afghanistan in 1914; her fiance was killed in a plane crash and her brother, who won the MC for bravery in Egypt, died of cerebral malaria or possibly suicide; two godfathers died and her father was badly wounded at the Somme.
“From her prodigious memory she could recall the London bombing raid on November 28 1916, and her first meeting with her father when she was four, when he finally returned from active service.”
Powell lived close to where poppies were made in Richmond for the first Poppy Appeal, and sold them on Richmond Bridge with her mother, Evelyn.
Earlier this year, she recounted how the poppies were so popular that they “ran out in no time”, and her mother made more to sell out of red crepe paper.
Powell’s first fiance, Robin Ellis, a commander in the Royal Navy, died in 1944 when the Lancaster bomber he was flying in crashed near Inverness.
Her younger brother Peter, a major in the Army, died during the Second World War.
During that conflict, Powell trained as a voluntary aid detachment (VAD) nurse providing civilian nursing to the military.
A spokesman for the Royal British Legion described Rosemary as an “exceptional woman” and a “true role model”.
“Rosemary’s dedication to the Legion, and to the Poppy Appeal over 97 years, was nothing short of remarkable,” he said.
“She was an exceptional role model and her passion and dedication will be missed by us all at the charity.
“The presentation of her MBE was a fitting tribute to a woman whose volunteering and fundraising efforts will be spoken about for generations to come.
“We will be forever in debt to Rosemary for her efforts which have literally helped to support thousands of Armed Forces personnel, veterans, and their families over the generations.”
Her funeral will be held later this month, with a special memorial event at St Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge – where she was married in 1952 – to follow in October.