A VETERAN military charity supporter who has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for ex-service personnel and their families is launching the annual poppy appeal in Consett this week.

Vera Parnaby, who has been supporting the work of Royal British Legion since she was six year years old, will be at Christ Church in the town centre on Friday, October 27, at 10am.

She is also urging people to join in to help commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

Mrs Parnaby, 79, from Blackhill, will be joined by Andrew Martell, a deputy Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, for the launch.

She said: “I hope the poppy appeal will have more meaning for people this year with it being 100 years since the end of the First World War.

“It is important because the need gets no less, the need for help. If we don’t get the donations from the poppy appeal while we are out and about we cannot help people who need it.”

Mrs Parnaby lost her father, George Richardson, in a road accident on an army base during the Second World War.

Her mother, Annie Richardson, helped launch the women’s section of the Royal British Legion and sold poppies with the help of her four children in the village of Annfield Plain.

Mrs Parnaby, who was married to Alan, but is now widowed, has three children, two granddaughters and a great-grandson.

In 2013 she was awarded the chairman’s medal for her years of devoted service.

She is also organising a Festival of Remembrance to be held in the Empire Theatre, Consett, on Friday, November 2, from 7pm with local singers and dance groups as well as music from Consett Brass. Tickets are £8 at the door.

The event has been helped with a donation of more than £1,000 from the Tesco Bags of Help charity appeal and the store, on Genesis Way, has been making ceramic and acrylic poppies with groups of school children.

The annual service of remembrance is being held at Christ Church on Sunday, November 11, at 9.45am followed by a parade to the War Memorial on Medomsley Road for wreath-laying at 11am.

But, in the run up to that, volunteers are need to sell poppies at Tesco and Morrisons for the two week period from the launch of the appeal until Armistice Day.

Mrs Parnaby said: “I am looking for volunteers to help out because it is a full fortnight in two supermarkets and I cannot do anymore.

“I am asking people to give an hour or two, or whatever time they can afford.”

To get involved call Mrs Parnaby on 01207-500-679.