Stevenage war veteran champions Poppy Appeal

Stan Stokes collecting in Sainsbury's for the Poppy appeal

Stan Stokes collecting in Sainsbury's for the Poppy appeal - Credit: Archant

With the annual Poppy Appeal launched this weekend ahead of the annual remembrance services, the Comet spoke to one veteran who has been fundraising for the cause for the past 54 years.

Stan Stokes, 93, was out selling poppies and wristbands for the Royal British Legion – which supports past and current members of the armed forces – at Sainsbury’s Poplars store in Stevenage on Saturday.

Mr Stokes, who served in Belgium, France and Germany during World War II, is one of many volunteers collecting across Comet country in the lead up to Remembrance Day on November 11.

He said: “It’s very important to me to contribute towards the Poppy Appeal because I know what a difference it can make. I’ve been doing this for over five decades and have no intention of stopping any time soon.

“My father was also a soldier but he didn’t talk about it very much. Not so long ago I found out that my mother’s cousin was actually Albert Ball, who was a very well-known fighter pilot in World War I.”

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Mr Stokes also has another claim to fame, having been inside the coffin of Sir Douglas Haig – a senior British officer in World War I – before the man himself.

“My family ran the company that produced his coffin,” he said.

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“I was only about nine-years-old at the time and they thought it would be a laugh to stick me in it. I don’t think I realised who it was meant for but it was dark in there, I’ll say that.”

Mr Stokes will be at the Sainsbury’s store in Magpie Crescent every day between midday and 4pm until November 9.

Hitchin residents will be able to purchase their poppies from stores throughout the town centre, also until November 9., Letchworth GC residents can buy poppies from a collector next to the Letchworth War Memorial every day from 10.30am to midday (also until November 9).

See next week’s Comet for a round-up of all the remembrance services taking place across the area.

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