'I'm very proud of what I have achieved': Rushden woman honoured for 65 years of poppy selling

Julie West and Rushden Royal British Legion branch chairman Paul Mills
Julie West and Rushden Royal British Legion branch chairman Paul Mills

The daughter of a veteran killed in the Second World War has been recognised for her 65 years of selling poppies in Rushden.

Julie West, 80, joined the Royal British Legion in 1953, aged 15, and as well as receiving a rose gold poppy and a branch certificate of appreciation for her service, she's been made a lifetime member.

Her mother, daughters and granddaughters are or were all members of the legion and fittingly her daughters and granddaughters attended the ceremony during December's committee meeting.

"I was wondering why all my family were going to the meeting - well, it was because I was being presented with the poppy," said Julie.

"I'm very proud of what I have achieved."

"I'll keep going as long as I can," she added.

Over the years Julie has knocked on doors and stood on street corners in all weathers, but now she sits in a supermarket for 10 days during remembrance fortnight selling poppies.

On the final days of remembrance, Julie collects the boxes from the high street shops and helps with the counting.

She also hands out the order of service sheets and assists with bucket collecting on Remembrance Sundays.

"People are very, very generous in Rushden," she said.

"When we used to go round knocking on the doors I don't think we came across anyone who said no."

Julie was born to Grenadier Guards Sergeant Donald Folder and his wife Gladys in 1938.

Her father was killed in France in 1944 and is buried at Saint Charles De Percy cemetery in Normandy, which Julie has visited several times.

A spokesman for the Rushden RBL said: "This most popular character, known locally as the 'Poppy Lady', has been and continues to be a most loyal Royal British Legion member and intends selling poppies for many years to come.

"She has been rightfully recognised for her 65 years of dedication by an additional award of lifetime branch membership."

At one stage Julie held the position of being the poppy appeal co-ordinator.

In those days poppies had to be assembled by hand before being sold, which meant weeks of work prior to the start of the appeal.