Tributes to Poppy Appeal stalwart and 'true gentleman' Les Mortimer

Les Mortimer has sold poppies for the Royal British Legion outside Sainsbury's in Stevenage for deca

Les Mortimer, who sold poppies for the Royal British Legion outside Sainsbury's in Stevenage for decades, has sadly died - Credit: Ian Chambers

An award-winning Poppy Appeal volunteer and "true gentleman" Les Mortimer has sadly passed away, aged 91.

Best friend of more than 30 years, Pat Holding, has paid a touching tribute to Les after his death last week.

Les Mortimer Jubilee court

Les received the Poppy Workers 25 Year Badge by the Royal British Legion’s board of trustees for his tireless fundraising in Stevenage - Credit: Jubilee Court

They met when Les and his wife Penny were out collecting money for charity on a cold night - and Pat invited them in for a cup of tea. 

Les' award

Les Mortimer raised thousands for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal, and countless other charties - Credit: Jubilee Court

She said: "Sadly, Stevenage has just lost one of its old characters.

"Les and his late wife Penny were most remembered for their Poppy Appeal stand at Sainsbury's Coreys Mill.

"They would be there from 9.30am to 8pm every day for the whole two weeks and would sell things for the local Royal British Legion branch.

"Every year they would exceed their total - and in between raised many thousands for others including MS, Red Cross, Royal Naval Association, RAF association, and the list goes on.

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"One cause close to Les' heart was the Children's Society - as when he was born his mother abandoned him, so he never had anyone.

"Being born disabled, he spent his childhood in different homes until one day he was given a bag and went out to face the world.

"Later he met Penny, who was also disabled, but they made a great team together in helping each other.

"He always managed to work and moving to Stevenage he spent the last years at the Land Registry until he retired. He then spent all his time collecting to help others, even though life was not easy for them.

"He had a great sense of humour and loved to be around people. I will miss his big cheeky smile, and the privilege of helping a man who only cared about others.

"I would like to say a big thank you to all the staff for all their care at Jubilee Court, who made life in Les' final years comfortable and happy with such care and love." 

Last month, Les was recognised for his tireless charitable work for the Royal British Legion with the Poppy Workers 25 Year Badge.

Jubilee Court home manager Julie Oakley-Reid said: “Les was a much-loved member of the Jubilee Court family and will be deeply missed by the residents and staff.

"He was a wonderful man who did so much for other people, both in the local community and here at the home.

"We all admired him for his courage and determination, and despite some of the difficulties he faced in life, he was always cheerful and positive. He was one of life’s true gentlemen and we will never forget him.”

Les' funeral will take place on Monday, August 2, 2.45pm at Harwood Park.

Pat has asked for no flowers. As Les in care and Penny had cerebral palsy, any donations to the Children's Society and Scope charity in Les' memory would be a fitting tribute to him.