THE Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall met with North East collectors to launch the Royal British Legion’s Centenary poppy appeal.

The 2021 Poppy Appeal launches across the North East tomorrow (Thursday).

Vera Parnaby, 82, from Consett, has been a committed poppy seller for more than seven decades and has raised well in excess of £1m for the Poppy Appeal.

After 75 years of dedication to the Appeal she has earned the nickname Mrs Poppy.

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In 2013 she deservedly received the chairman’s medal for her years of service.

Vera, who is featured in the Poppy Appeal launch portraits, said: “I know Covid has hit people in their pockets, but please remember the service personnel who have made sacrifices for us. We look after families and the injured with the money that we raise every year, and when someone leaves the armed forces, they can rely on the RBL to help them get into civilian life, and the more we raise the more we can help. 

“In 2021 we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the RBL and the 75th anniversary of our Consett Branch and I sincerely hope we can celebrate as all of our work and major fundraising was put on hold due to Covid-19 last year. I caught Covid myself earlier this year, but I am ready to take on the challenge of the Poppy Appeal once again.

“I have been involved with the Poppy Appeal since I was a child and I’m still collecting now. I’ve been Poppy Appeal Organizer for Consett and District for the past 24 years.

“When I first started, I would go door-to-door with my mam and my brothers and sister. Mam did it all her life and we’ve just carried on ever since, even my great grandson comes out and helps.”

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall officially launched the 2021 Poppy Appeal, meeting a group of ten collectors at Clarence House, including Vera.

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall 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.

"Last year, for the first time in its history, the R.B.L. had to withdraw its collectors from the streets, owing to the pandemic. This year, we warmly welcome the return of Poppy Appeal collectors to our communities. My wife and I are immensely proud to launch the Poppy Appeal in this seminal year and we invite the nation to come together and, once again, wear a poppy in support of our Armed Forces community. After all, every poppy counts.”

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