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Poppy seller’s award for services to charity

A dedicated Burgess Hill poppy seller was honoured for 40 years’ service at More Radio’s Mid Sussex Awards.

From Press releases - 13 October 2017 12:00 AM

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Fred Wheatland, an electricity substation inspector at UK Power Networks, won the Community Achievement Award last night at the South of England Showground, Ardingly, for the significant contribution he has made to his community.

Over the last 40 years, Fred has raised more than £25,000 for war veterans as a volunteer for the annual Poppy Appeal. He will be starting his annual collection at Tesco in Jane Murray Way in the week beginning November 6.

The company gives all its employees two paid days each year to take part in fundraising or volunteering in their local communities and Fred uses this, together with three days’ annual leave, to spend a full week each year collecting for the appeal.

Fred said: “I’m very proud to have won this award on behalf of the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal. In my mind there were others on the night who were more deserving than myself, but I’m so grateful to win an award that will highlight the work of the charity.

“Every November we remember the sacrifices of those who served in World War One and World War Two and all the conflicts since. A lot of funds go towards the rehabilitation of those with life-changing injuries and respite for their dedicated carers.

“I willingly give my free time for those who have suffered and those who continue to suffer as a result of conflicts. We are here living the life we do thanks to those who fought for us. This is my way of expressing thanks to those who sacrificed so much for us. If nobody had fought for us our country would not be the one it is today.”

Anna Bingham, from More Radio, said: “It was such an honour finally meeting Fred. It’s amazing that someone has been so dedicated to spending their own time helping others and really making a difference in the community, for so many years. He really is a true inspiration.”

A spokesperson for The Royal British Legion, said: “People like Fred are at the very heart of our annual fundraising drive, the Poppy Appeal. It simply wouldn’t be possible to organise the appeal without the support of people like Fred, and our army of fundraising volunteers.

“His efforts directly support our veterans and servicemen and women – and their families – as well as helping us to uphold the memory of the fallen and the future of the living.”

Fred added: “The best part about being a poppy seller is hearing people’s stories about loved ones who served in the wars. Some stories bring a lump to my throat when I hear about what their dad or grandad did during the war. We have regular visitors who wait for us to visit the superstore, including a man who lost his leg in one of the conflicts.”

Fred’s grandfather, Frederick Kingsley, fought in the First World War during the Battle of the Somme. As a result of an injury in the battle he had part of his finger amputated, without anaesthetic, before being sent back into battle. His step-father, John Allen, was shot down south of Paris in the Second World War as an RAF pilot and was smuggled back to England by the French resistance. He suffered burns and received treatment on his return to England.