Tireless appeal worker Tom praised for efforts

PUBLISHED: 16:25 12 November 2013

Tom and Christine Harvey-May at their Exmouth home this week. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 9713-39-13SH To order your copy of this photograph go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk and click on Photo Orders.

Tom and Christine Harvey-May at their Exmouth home this week. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 9713-39-13SH To order your copy of this photograph go to www.exmouthjournal.co.uk and click on Photo Orders.

Archant

Withycombe’s retired Poppy Appeal organiser, Tom Harvey-May, and his wife, Christine, have been praised for helping to raise more than £250,000 for the Royal British Legion.

Jill Start, one of the Poppy A ppeal organisers, praised Mr Harvey-May, 76, of Links Close, for ‘doing wonders’.

When Tom took on the mantle in 1999, just £5,000 was collected through the appeal.

That year just 20 wreaths were laid on the Strand War Memorial, with just 32 people taking part in the Remembrance Day Service.

But, thanks to Tom, the amount has risen every year with £28,500 raised in his final year in 2012, with 160 wreaths laid and 3,000 in attendance.

Jill said: “He has done more than people realise; last year he helped someone in Burnside get the benefits he was entitled to.

“He has worked tirelessly and he is always on hand to give advice. The fact that the appeal collects as much as it does is down to Tom, and the practices he introduced; it is his legacy.”

Tom is proud of encouraging RBL branches to ask organisations to lay more wreaths.

“I always thought that for the person who lays the wreath, they are putting their heart on the memorial,” he said.

“It used to take me two nights to deliver the wreaths with my wonky leg, then Chris started helping and it was finished in hours. I could not have done this without her.

“It’s about the volunteers who pound the streets every year, the volunteers are everything.”

He added: “Many years ago I lived in Manchester, and I had my possessions stolen and nobody wanted to know; the Legion were the only ones who would help.

“They gave me enough for me to get back on my feet, they gave me my life back. That’s a moral debt I have been repaying ever since.”


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