100-year-old poppy seller from Newport refuses to retire

30 October 2017, 18:44

Poppy seller Ron Jones

A hundred year-old veteran, who survived a prisoner of war camp at Auschwitz, is selling poppies for The Royal British Legion in Newport.

Ron Jones from Bassaleg volunteers for up to six hours a day at Tesco in Maesglas, and has been collecting for the Poppy Appeal since 1981.

He was called up to fight in 1940, but was captured in Benghazi in 1942 and was transferred to a forced labour camp in Auschwitz.

After two years of being held at the camp, he was freed by American troops and finally returned home to his wife Gladys in May 1945.

"I've been selling poppies for about 30 years, I go down to Tesco every year for a fortnight, practically every day," he said.

"I like to do a lot for the British Legion as we help dependants, we help the boys coming back from Afghanistan.

"If they need help, I'm there.

"I've made as much as £15,000 occasionally but normally we get up to nine or ten thousand."

The pensioner admitted that he has become "a bit of a celebrity" at the Tesco on the Harlech Retail Park where he sells poppies.

Customers come in each year looking for him, with one woman driving from London to Newport to buy a poppy from Mr Jones.

"She put £20 in my box, that's what happens," Mr Jones said.

Lynne Woodyatt, community fundraiser for The Royal British Legion, paid tribute to Mr Jones as "a legend".

"He's one of our key volunteers and he's quite a celebrity. 

"The young generation love to interact with him and he loves to get them involved.

"He's so generous and the Legion is quite close to his heart."

When asked whether he would ever retire from his role, Mr Jones replied firmly: "No".