'They deserve a holiday!' - Couple behind Stevenage Poppy Appeal to go out on record-breaking high after raising £750,000
PUBLISHED: 17:40 14 January 2016 | UPDATED: 17:40 14 January 2016
The husband and wife team behind the Stevenage Poppy Appeal are going out on a record-breaking high after raising around £750,000 during their seven-year tenure.
Richard and Pat Mott, who live in Meadow Way in the town, took over the running of the appeal for the Royal British Legion’s Stevenage branch in 2008 when the annual fundraising total stood at about £45,000.
But the pair, with the help of countless volunteers and organisations, have seen totals continue to rise – with a new record of £115,500 already set for 2015/16 with more money still to come in.
Having topped £100,000 last year when marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, Richard and Pat will retire next month after going one better.
Reflecting on the total, which will continue to grow through to the September cut-off point and also includes Watton-at-Stone collections, Richard said: “It’s been unbelievable. Last year we had £107,000 collected between October 2014 and September 2015 and we’ve already surpassed that just from collections between October and December 2015.
“We had a lot more volunteers who were all fantastic, and that has made a difference.”
Pat turns 70 next month, while Richard will reach the same milestone in September – so both have decided it is the right time to retire.
“The actual Poppy Appeal is in November but it takes over our house and our lives for six months,” he said. “We’re sorry that we’re stepping down but we feel like we need a rest – we’re both 70 this year.
“I joked a few years ago that Stevenage was good for £100,000 and that when we reached it we’d retire and we are, albeit one year later!
“It’s been great. We’ve really enjoyed our time organising the appeal and the fact we’ve helped raise all this money to support members of the armed forces, past and present, is what it’s all about.”
Paying tribute to their achievements, John Jeffrey – who was chairman of the Stevenage branch of the Legion for nine years – said: “It was in a reasonable standing when they took it on but they’ve approached it in a different way, working with more organisations in the town and finding more places for collection boxes which has been fundamental to their success.
“It’s a big job and a big responsibility and they will be sorely missed. They definitely deserve a holiday!”