The granddaughter of a man who collected money for the Poppy Appeal in Stevenage for almost 60 years is running the London Marathon in his memory.

The Comet: Laura Manton with Pat Jeffery, Poppy Appeal organiser at the Stevenage branch of the Royal British Legion.Laura Manton with Pat Jeffery, Poppy Appeal organiser at the Stevenage branch of the Royal British Legion. (Image: Archant)

Laura Manton, from Stevenage, will run the 26.2-mile course on April 28 in memory of Don Presland – a veteran who collected in the region of £75,000 for the Poppy Appeal over 58 years, even while battling chronic lung disease in the latter years.

He died in November 2016 and, in tribute to her grandfather, Laura is running the marathon in aid of the Royal British Legion.

She said: “To say I am a runner would be a massive overstatement, but the RBL is a charity close to my heart. My grandfather still made collections during the 2015 Poppy Appeal, despite being diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis and using oxygen to assist his breathing.

“I am determined and committed to do my absolute best for such a great charity, which helps better the lives of people who have given so much.

“The money raised will be invested in schemes and services to help improve the physical and mental welfare of members of the armed forces, veterans, and their families.

“An example of a Legion-funded service is The Battle Back Centre – the first port of call for wounded, injured and sick service men and women.

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to continue fundraising for the Royal British Legion in my grandfather’s honour. I hope I make him proud.”

Don – who served with the British Army in Egypt to complete his National Service in the 1950s – was inspired to begin collecting by the disappearance of his uncle in action during the Second World War.

He collected for the entire Graveley area, as well as schools across Stevenage.

Don, who was born in Hitchin but lived most of his life in Graveley, was awarded the honorary 55-year bar to add to his RBL uniform medals in 2012.

The RBL’s work is entirely dependent on the public’s donations, which are used in many ways – including providing crisis grants, researching the long-lasting impact of blast injuries on the body, sport and art-based recovery programmes, and advising on benefits and money issues.

To sponsor Laura, visit