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Poppies for the legions

152. Olive Cooke

A 92 year old woman from Bristol has sold over 30,000 poppies during 75 years of service for the Royal British Legion.

10 Downing Street

Olive began selling poppies in her local community in 1939 and was inspired to volunteer by her father, who joined the Bedminster branch of the Royal British Legion after returning home from serving in the First World War. Olive continued to volunteer throughout World War II and her connections with the charity only grew stronger when she tragically lost her husband in the conflict after just two years’ of marriage She proudly wears her late husband’s medal on her chest when she sells poppies.

Following the war, Olive volunteered as a standard bearer and later became the Chair of the Women’s section of the Royal British Legion.

Olive has now sold poppies every year for 76 years, proudly wearing her late husband’s medal on her chest come rain or shine on the streets of Bristol. During this time Olive has sold over 30,000 poppies, raising tens of thousands of pounds for the Royal British Legion who help to support current members of the Armed Forces as well as being the Nation’s custodians of Remembrance. She even received a special medal nine years ago from the organisation to recognise her 66 years of continuous poppy selling.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“People like Olive are the cornerstones of our communities, helping to keep memories of our fallen heroes alive. This Remembrance Day as we honour those who gave their lives so that we could live in freedom, I am incredibly grateful for Olive’s tenacity and diligence over the last 76 years and absolutely delighted to name her the UK’s 152nd Point of Light.”

Olive said:

“I was greatly surprised to hear I had won this award, and I’m very honoured to know that I have been recognised like that.”

Sue Potepa, Community Fundraiser for The Royal British Legion in Bristol, said:

“Olive is one of our longest standing poppy collectors and is well loved by the team here in Bristol. “This year 350,000 volunteers like Olive will help us to ensure that the poppy is available to all those who wish to wear one and we are extremely grateful to her for the support she has given The Royal British Legion and our annual Poppy Appeal for more than 75 years. “Olive also helped us to sell poppies on the 6th November for Bristol Poppy Day, which saw an army of volunteers collecting for the Appeal throughout the city in a bid to raise £25,000 for the Legion in one day.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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