Sunderland’s longest-serving poppy seller dies

Les Young
Les Young
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TRIBUTES have been paid to honour Sunderland’s longest-serving poppy seller.

Les Young, 93, volunteered for The Royal British Legion and sold poppies for about 64 years before retiring in 2008.

The grandfather-of-seven, great-grandfather-of-eight and great-great-grandfather-of-one, who raised about £150,000 for the poppy appeal over the years, died of chronic cardiac failure at home in Beckwith Mews, Silksworth, on August 23.

The former Pyrex worker, who celebrated his platinum wedding anniversary with wife Margaret, 89, in June, had “a passion” for the charity after serving in the Second Battalion Durham Light Infantry in World War Two.

His tireless work will be remembered at his funeral today at St Mary’s Church, Easington Village, by representatives from the Silksworth branch of the The Royal British Legion, of which he was a member until his death.

Chairman of the group, Bob Newton, said his work for the charity was second to none.

“He did a fantastic job,” he said.

“He was well known and raised an unbelievable amount of money – he wouldn’t let anyone pass him without buying a poppy.

“He was one of our oldest members and he will be a miss. Loads of people knew him.”

Bob will read the epitaph at the funeral, held in the village where he was born, and a poppy box is to be placed on the coffin.

“That is the best way to remember him,” he said. The Royal British Legion standard will also be displayed, and a poppy wreath bearing the emblem has been donated by the charity.

Representatives from Morrison’s supermarket, where Les sold the poppies, will also attend the service.

Sons, Mike, 64, and Colin, 51, travelled from their homes in Australia for the funeral with their families, and son Douglas, 63, made the journey from Scarborough.

Oldest son Alan, 68, who lives in New Zealand, is unable to attend for health reasons.

Mike said his father will be remembered for his “heart of gold”.

“He was always on hand to help people, no matter the time of day or night,” he said.

“He had suffered hardship and injury during the war and because of that, he became the champion of causes.

“We have all had a shock because his death was so sudden, but he will be remembered for his laugh, his love of telling jokes, and his ability to captivate and audience with them – he said laughter was the elixir of life.”

The funeral took place at 11am, followed by a wake at the Village Inn, Easington Village.