Ahead of this year's Poppy Appeal one of our oldest customers – 102-year-old Beatrice Furlong – has been busy crocheting poppies to raise money for the Royal British Legion, selling them to her friends and our colleagues at our Worcester store.
Biddy, as she likes to be called, is a regular shopper at the store and pops in each week with her daughter Mal for her groceries, a cup of tea and a chat.
She's been selling the poppies for the last seven years, raising thousands of pounds. Biddy usually sells her poppies on a stall at our store but this year, due to the pandemic, she's just been selling them to Asda colleagues and to friends.
Biddy said: "I do enjoy making them – I usually make about 15 a day now. I like raising money for the Royal British Legion ... because of the memories."
Biddy's late husband Vincent fought in the Second World War, and her grandson Nicholas also served in the Armed Forces and was involved in the Gulf War.
Mal said: "The Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal is something that is close to our hearts as a family."
And Biddy has a particularly large family with four children, nine grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren!
Mal buys the red, green and black wool for the poppies and helps her mum stitch them together.
She said: "I do help her a bit, but I like her to do them herself. She has arthritis and the movement helps her and it occupies her mind too. So far this year she's probably made about 150. And, as more orders, come in she'll make more."
Over the years Biddy has raised thousands of pounds for the local branch of the Royal British Legion. She and Mal are pictured here selling poppies at our Worcester store back in 2017:
The store's community champion Lynda Buzza said: "Beatrice is such a lovely lady – everyone knows her in the store.
"She came in just the other day with her daughter and brought me some of her knitted poppies to sell to our colleagues here. They sold out straight away and colleagues are already wanting more.
"Beatrice is a big part of the community here; she's brilliant."
Store manager Rukia Hussain says everyone at the store is in awe of Biddy.
She said: "Having met Mrs Furlong on a number of occasions, I find her an absolute inspiration. I love her story and passion for the community. Whilst this year is going to be different from any other, we were very much excited to have Mrs Furlong and Mal back into Asda Worcester to sell some of her wonderful creations for a fantastic cause."
Ben France, head of corporate partnerships at the Royal British Legion, says the "remarkable" support from Biddy and other volunteers across the country is really appreciated, especially because of the impact of Covid-19.
He said: "We’d like to say a huge thank you to Beatrice, and to the thousands of volunteers up and down the country, whose generosity and effort make the Poppy Appeal possible.
"Due to the pandemic, many of our vulnerable volunteers cannot take part this year, but with Asda’s support we can still bring the Appeal right to the heart of communities across the UK. From this weekend, Asda customers can pick up a poppy in store and donate with cash or by using a QR code.
"The pandemic has had a devastating impact on people’s livelihoods and way of life, leaving some in the Armed Forces community in dire need of urgent help and support. We are seeing people struggling to cope with the loss of loved ones, facing homelessness and unemployment and battling mental health issues. That’s why every poppy counts this year, and why we’re so grateful for remarkable friends like Beatrice."