Stowmarket Poppy Appeal collector Jill Gladwell honoured by Charles and Camilla

The Prince of Wales talks to Poppy Appeal collectors

The Prince of Wales talks to Poppy Appeal collectors. Jill Gladwell is on the right on the front row. - Credit: PA

A Suffolk woman who has been collecting for the annual Poppy Appeal for 80 years has been honoured for her service.

Jill Gladwell, 95, who lives near Stowmarket, was the guest of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall at Clarence House to join the launch of the Royal British Legion's (RBL) centenary appeal.

Charles and Camilla met 10 volunteer collectors - one for each decade of the appeal - to mark the start of this year's campaign to raise funds and awareness for the RBL.

Mrs Gladwell is celebrating 80 years of collecting for the Poppy Appeal this year, having started as a 14-year-old schoolgirl during the Second World War.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall meet Jill Gladwell

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall with Jill Gladwell, aged 95, from Stowmarket area, and Maisie Mead, 10, the oldest and youngest of 10 Royal British Legion (RBL) Poppy Appeal collectors at Clarence House to launch the centenary poppy appeal - Credit: PA

She had been inspired by her mother who collected in the 1920s and now five generations of her family are involved, including her great-great-niece, Charlotte, who is 10.

Mrs Gladwell, whose mother was one of the RBL's first collectors, said: "I started collecting when I was 14 in 1940 and even then I knew the Poppy Appeal was important to the wounded men who had fought for the country and for peace.

"My father followed the legion's motto 'Service not self' and I'm so happy to be back out collecting to support the Armed Forces community and their families this year."

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Prince Charles said the poppy tribute was "as relevant today as it ever was".

The red poppy - a common sight on the Western Front - became a symbol of remembrance for those killed in the First World War as the conflict drew to a close.

 The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall with poppy collector volunteers

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall with ten Royal British Legion (RBL) Poppy Appeal collectors. Jill Gladwell from Suffolk is second from the left on the front row, seated next to Charles. - Credit: PA

The prince said: "In November 1921, the Royal British Legion's first Poppy Appeal took place and the nation adopted the annual tradition of placing a small red flower on their clothing to signify respect and support for the Armed Forces community, their service and their sacrifice.

"The significance of the poppy is as relevant today as it ever was while our Armed Forces continue to be engaged in operations overseas and often in the most demanding of circumstances.

"The simple act of wearing a poppy is only made possible because of volunteer Poppy Appeal collectors who share a common goal - to recognise the unique contribution of the Armed Forces community."

The Covid-19 pandemic meant poppy collectors could not go out into the community during 2020 but the tradition will resume this year in the run-up to Armistice Day.

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