Bristol

Olive Cooke death: Family say charities not to blame

Olive Cooke pictured collecting money for the Royal British Legion
Image caption Olive Cooke's family hope to set up a fund in her name

The family of one of the UK's longest-serving poppy sellers said charities had been "intrusive" but were not responsible for her death.

Olive Cooke, 92, was found dead in the Avon Gorge, Bristol, on 6 May.

A friend said Mrs Cooke had been "exhausted" by charity requests, but her family said while the requests were "intrusive", they were not to blame.

Granddaughter Jessica Dunne said: "Nan would have wanted the work of charities to be promoted."

Mrs Cooke's friend Michael Earley said she was being sent 180 letters from charities a month and was plagued by phone calls.

He told BBC Radio Bristol that while he would not blame her death entirely on charities "pestering" her - she had been "under pressure".

Ms Dunne said her grandmother believed charities were the "backbone to our communities".

'Happy soul'

She said: "I think that the amount of contact from charities was starting to escalate and get slightly out of control, and the phone calls were beginning to get intrusive, but there is no blame or suggestion that this was a reason for her death."

Ms Dunne said her grandmother had left the family a note to explain the reasons for her death, and that it made no reference to charities but mentioned depression and being elderly.

She added: "Nan was not a victim. She did suffer with depression, but on the whole she was a happy soul."

She said her grandmother had been "brave and courageous" throughout her life.

"There was a headline that upset me, that she was 'killed by kindness' - it was not that at all," she said.

The mother of three is believed to have sold around 30,000 poppies, having started when she was 16.

Mrs Cooke, who lived in Fishponds, had sold poppies for the Royal British Legion (RBL) charity appeal for 76 years and was presented with the Lord Mayor's Medal for her work.

The Institute of Fundraising (IoF) Standards Committee said it would bring together representatives from across the charity sector to review the case.

Image copyright Olive Cooke
Image caption Mrs Cooke said selling poppies took on new meaning after her first husband was killed in action

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