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Swansea poppy sellers set for Lord Mayor's Honour

Four poppy sellers with a combined age of over 300 are being honoured in Swansea on Friday night.

Poppy sellers

Eighty-four-year-old Tom Simmonds, 97-year-old Howard Thomas, 78-year-old Fred Edwards and 72-year-old Peter Meehan will receive a Lord Mayor's Honour on July 29 for services to military and the defence in a gala ball at the Brangwyn Hall.

Every year from the end of October to November 11, they spend a few weeks in Swansea Market, collecting many thousands of pounds for the Royal British Legion's Poppy Appeal.

Between the four, they've clocked up more than 50 years of collections at the city centre attraction.

Tom, a dad-of-two and a grandfather, of Gors Avenue in Townhill, first moved to Swansea in 1961. A former drill instructor in the army, he's the life vice president of the Swansea branch of the Royal British Legion - an organisation he's been a member of for more than 50 years.

He said: "I've now been collecting in the market for the Poppy Appeal for 31 years. When I first started, we used to collect about £5,000, but now the figure is over £90,000, so we're hoping to break the £100,000 mark this year.

"We can't thank the people of Swansea enough for what's an incredible experience every year in the market. From the young children who come along with their collection money to the people who have saved all year to make a contribution, people's generosity never ceases to amaze me. It's pretty hard work but it's something we really enjoy doing."

Tom, a former general foreman on the Sketty Park estate, also helps organise fundraising throughout the year for the Royal British Legion in about 30 collection boxes.

He said: "Receiving a Lord Mayor's Honour is something we're very proud to be able to accept. We've got 16 on our table on Friday night, which I've heard is being called the poppy table. I've already hired a suit for the occasion, so we're ready for what's sure to be a great night."

The Lord Mayor's Honours are expected to raise thousands of pounds for local charities. Other categories include services to sport, services to Swansea internationally and services to the community.

Cllr David Hopkins, Lord Mayor of Swansea, said: "Tom, Howard, Fred and Peter are thoroughly deserving of this honour. They're a much-loved fixture of Swansea Market during the annual Poppy Appeal who many people will recognise and respect.

"Their commitment to charity is an example to us all, so I look forward to welcoming them on Friday night, where they'll mix with other Swansea people whose contributions to our city are very worthy of being honoured.

"The Lord Mayor's Honours are a great way of giving a special thanks to the category winners while raising money for deserving charities at the same time."

The Lord Mayor's Summer Honours Ball, which will be a full black tie and red carpet event, will feature a gala dinner and entertainment. Money raised on the evening from an auction and fundraising will support the Lord Mayor's Charity Fund.

Other winners include Edwina Hart for services to political life, Nick Evans for services to the arts, and Bonnie Tyler for services to music.

Catherine Zeta-Jones will be honoured for services to Swansea internationally, Hafod Primary School headteacher Rachael Webb will be honoured for services to the community, and Swansea City FC will be honoured for services to Swansea's global reputation. Geoff Wheel and Alan Curtis will be honoured for services to sport. 

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