'Longest-serving' poppy seller Rosemary Powell dies aged 103

Image source, Royal British Legion
Image caption,
Rosemary Powell began collecting for the Poppy Appeal when it started in 1921

A former World War Two nurse who is believed to be Britain's longest-serving poppy seller has died at the age of 103, her family have said.

Rosemary Powell, who began collecting for the appeal when it was started in 1921, passed away on 15 August, nine days after she was handed her MBE.

In an obituary, her family said: "She had known the cost of war."

The Legion said it was "forever in debt to Rosemary for her efforts."

She is survived by three sons, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Image source, PA/Royal British Legion
Image caption,
During World War Two, Rosemary Powell trained as a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nurse

In her obituary, her family described Mrs Powell's experiences and memories having lived through two World Wars.

"She could recall the London bombing raid on 28 November 1916, and her first meeting with her father when she was four, when he finally returned from active service," they wrote.

During World War Two she worked as a voluntary aid detachment (VAD) nurse, treating members of the military.

Her patients included soldiers wounded on the beaches in Normandy and her family said she was "probably the second person to save someone's life with an injection of the new, dark yellow, syrup-like penicillin."

Image source, PA
Image caption,
The great-grandmother received her MBE medal during a ceremony at her nursing home

Mrs Powell previously spoke about how war "has had a significant impact on my life".

Her father Charles Ashton James was left wounded after being shot in the head during the Battle of the Somme, and she lost two godfathers and three uncles during World War One.

The great-grandmother's first fiance Robin Ellis, who was a commander in the Royal Navy, died in 1944 and her younger brother Peter also died during World War Two.

Image source, PA/Royal British Legion
Image caption,
She lived close to where poppies were made in 1921 and sold them on Richmond Bridge

She announced her retirement from the appeal earlier in the year with her final collection being held at the nursing home where she was presented with her MBE.

Nevertheless, the great-grandmother's support for the Royal British Legion will continue after her death, with a donation from each copy of her memoir going to the charity.

A spokesperson for the Legion said her "dedication" to the appeal "was nothing short of remarkable".

"The presentation of her MBE was a fitting tribute to a woman whose volunteering and fundraising efforts will be spoken about for generations to come," they said.

Mrs Powell's funeral will be held later this month with a special memorial event at St Paul's Church, Knightsbridge - where she was married in 1952 - to follow in October.

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