103-year-old Rosemary awarded MBE for her outstanding service to the Legion

Former World War Two nurse, Rosemary Powell, is awarded an MBE after an incredible 97 years of collecting for the Poppy Appeal.

Rosemary was just six years old when she sold poppies for the first appeal in 1921 - three years after the First World War ended. Selling her first poppies on Twickenham Bridge with her mother, Rosemary’s efforts to help the military and support the Legion have never wavered, and even included making her own poppies one year, when living in Africa as a missionary. Read her full story here.

However, after an inspiring 97 years of service to the Legion, Rosemary, who now lives in a nursing home in Chiswick, London, is planning to retire from collecting after this year’s appeal.

Charles Byrne, Director General of The Royal British Legion, congratulated Rosemary on her MBE, describing her as a “true inspiration”.

“Rosemary’s incredible long-serving support of the Legion has literally helped thousands of Armed Forces personnel, veterans, and their families over the generations,” he said.

“She is a true inspiration who continues to inspire people across the country”.

“We are forever in debt to Rosemary for her efforts which continue to encourage new generations of volunteers to give their time to the Legion – whether it’s as fundraisers, case workers or information volunteers.

"From everyone at the Legion, we congratulate Rosemary on her MBE and we wish her a very happy retirement.”

The impact of war

Rosemary’s life has been hugely impacted by war having lost godparents, uncles and a brother as well as her first fiancé, Robin Ellis also tragically died in 1944 when the Lancaster bomber he was travelling in crashed near Inverness the day before their engagement was due to be announced in a national newspaper.

After witnessing the impact of war on her own family, as well as in her time as a nurse during WW2, Rosemary felt compelled to raise funds for those in need.

Rosemary said: “It is very nice that I have been given this [the MBE]. I still vividly remember selling poppies on Richmond Bridge with my mother. I sold quite a few poppies, but other people sold more.

“I have lived longer and must have sold them for longer than most people. It was a simple thing, which I enjoyed.”

Rosemary’s son, Nick, said: “There is no doubt that she was inspired by the terrible loss her mother suffered, as well as her own personal loss of her fiancé, Robin Ellis.”

Rosemary’s son, Giles, added: “The MBE is a tremendous reward for years and years of hard work and loyalty.

“Mum is absolutely over the moon. It’s great recognition for a lot of hard work.”