Patricia’s 35 years as Stevenage Poppy Appeal volunteer to honour father

PUBLISHED: 16:02 15 November 2018 | UPDATED: 16:37 15 November 2018

Frank Davis was gassed during World War I but survived. Picture courtesy of Brian Kemp.

Frank Davis was gassed during World War I but survived. Picture courtesy of Brian Kemp.

Archant

A woman devoted to honouring her father’s memory has been a Poppy Appeal volunteer for 35 years.

Patricia Kemp has been a Poppy Appeal volunteer for 35 years. Picture courtesy of Brian Kemp.Patricia Kemp has been a Poppy Appeal volunteer for 35 years. Picture courtesy of Brian Kemp.

Patricia Kemp, of Marlborough Road in Stevenage, took on the role after her mother, Gladys, died.

Gladys had been a volunteer in memory of Pat’s father, Frank Davis, who fought in World War I.

Born in 1892, Frank served in three regiments, as a driver in the Army Service Corps - now the Royal Logistics Corps - in the Machine Gun Corps - elements of which became the Royal Tank Regiment - and the Hampshire Regiment - now the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment.

He was gassed while serving in the Army Service Corps on the Western Front but survived, finally leaving the army in 1919.

Brian Kemp has been a Poppy Appeal volunteer for 30 years. Picture courtesy of Brian Kemp.Brian Kemp has been a Poppy Appeal volunteer for 30 years. Picture courtesy of Brian Kemp.

He married Gladys and worked as a silksman at a flour mill. He died in 1947.

Patricia, 79, said: “I have very few recollections of my father. He was 54 when he died and I was only seven.

“I recall my mum as ‘a poppy lady’, back then only with a box of poppies and a collection tin.

“I used to take my poppy box down Marlborough Road, and then to the Land Registry offices where I worked.

Stevenage's Remembrance Sunday service in the Old Town. Picture: Gary WilkinsStevenage's Remembrance Sunday service in the Old Town. Picture: Gary Wilkins

“My husband Brian and I then started collecting in the New Town - Brian stands outside Costa and I stand outside Boots - and we were there almost every day of this Poppy Appeal, from 9.30am until 3.30pm.

“The Poppy Appeal means so much to so many people. People come and tell me their own recollections and I love listening.”

Patricia added: “I’m so proud of my father, and all the men who fought in the war.”

Brian’s father, Percival Kemp, served in the Royal Navy during both world wars. Brian, who himself served in the Royal Air Force, has been a Poppy Appeal volunteer for 30 years and proudly wears his father’s medals.

Patricia and Brian, who is 81, attended all three remembrance services in the Old Town on Sunday, with Brian carrying the standard for the Royal Air Force Association during the parade.

Patricia said: “I have copies of my father’s medals and I wore them for the first time on Sunday.

“The increase in people there was significant - it increases every year.

“The whole community has joined in and the generosity this year has been fantastic. Brian and I filled 40 cans between us.

“The Stevenage branch of the Royal British Legion must have raised a record amount, but we don’t know the total yet.”

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