POPPY Appeal sellers in supermarkets around Swindon raised thousands of pounds for the Royal British Legion.

Volunteers sold hundreds of poppies and other symbolic accessories to customers outside the Ocotal Way Tesco Extra and Wichelstowe Waitrose during the last two weeks.

The Tesco team totted up more than £27,000 while Waitrose shoppers did their bit to raise £11,000. Prof Raymond Mizen recalled when the RBL's Riders Branch first branched out to fundraise at Waitrose in 2014.

He said: “We were shopping there in its opening year and I spoked to the manager to ask if he had been approached by anyone to be able to start a Poppy Appeal collection.

"He said no but the RBL is the only charity that the store manager has authority to give consent without asking head office.

"That first year was Erica and myself, on duty for two weeks with ad-hoc members of the Riders Branch turning up, and it showed how generous the Waitrose store and customers are, with coffee given on the house by the store and the odd customer buying for us.

"The collection yielded donations of £7,995. Erica and I counted it every evening at home, and did that for the following years until the RBL poppy appeal organiser took over in 2017. Since then, Waitrose ask us to attend each year and we have averaged between £8,000 to £9,000 each time - this year's was our best total yet.

"Rex Francis is a member of the Riders Branch who has helped us for five years and we could not have continued without his help or the help of Ron Parsons from the Veteran Breakfast Club. Rex will be taking over the appeal next year and we will hopefully help him for as long as we can”

Rex added: "Helping Prof and Erica has been a great pleasure. I hope I will able to maintain the high bench mark they set."