Beloved Stevenage fundraiser, 91, continues to beat the odds with online poppy appeal

PUBLISHED: 16:59 21 October 2020 | UPDATED: 12:15 22 October 2020

Les Mortimer, 91, has sold poppies for the Royal British Legion outside Sainsbury's in Stevenage for decades. Picture: Ian Chambers

Les Mortimer, 91, has sold poppies for the Royal British Legion outside Sainsbury's in Stevenage for decades. Picture: Ian Chambers

Archant

A well-known charity fundraiser who sold poppies outside Sainsbury’s in Stevenage for decades has launched an online poppy appeal this year due to coronavirus.

Pat and Les were invited to Buckingham Palace in 2014 in recognition of their services to charity. Picture: SuppliedPat and Les were invited to Buckingham Palace in 2014 in recognition of their services to charity. Picture: Supplied

You may remember seeing Les Mortimer selling poppies with his wife Penny outside Coreys Mill Sainsbury’s in Stevenage in recent decades.

Now 91, with deteriorating health and a pandemic to contend with, Les won’t be able to leave Jubilee Court to get out selling poppies this year.

Instead, with the help of friends and staff at the residential home, Les has launched at online appeal that will allow him to continue fundraising for the Royal British Legion, a charity that holds a dear place in his heart.

His long-time friend who he met during his years fundraising with RBL, Pat Holding, has shared some of the most inspiring moments from Les’ life, and also appealed to residents to get behind his online fundraising efforts.

Les has faced plenty of adversity – he was abandoned by his mother as a young boy, and was born with a number of disabilities – and friends and family say he has always had a “will and a fight to keep going”.

Where others may have given up or slowed down, Les ploughed on and committed himself to giving something back to his community after retiring.

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Pat fondly describes Les as “one of those cheeky people who can always make you smile”.

Over the years, Les and his beloved wife Penny braved the outdoors and raised tens of thousands in total for charities such as the Royal British Legion, Royal Navy Association, The Red Cross, Blue Cross and many more.

He and Penny were rewarded with a royal visit to Buckingham Palace in the early 2000s, and Les and long-term friend Pat were later invited for a second audience with Her Majesty in 2014 for their dedication to charitable causes.

Even after Penny passed in 2010, Les would get to Sainsbury’s for his fundraising as often as he could.

Pat added: “I think the world of Les, all he ever wanted to do was to raise money for other people. He has dedicated his life to helping others.

“Come rain or shine, he and Penny would be out there at Sainsbury’s doing their bit for the Royal British Legion and countless other charities.

“He has had a difficult life, but he keeps going and battling on. Les well deserves any support you can give him.”

You can support Les’ online poppy appeal fundraiser at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/les-mortimer


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