A ROYAL British Legion member has laughed-off the "nightmare" of counting out thousands of poppy seeds by hand.

It only occured to Graham Mentor-Morris, 57, that the tiny seeds could be weighed out after more than 20 hours of painstaking labour over two days.

The Greenhithe and Swanscombe RBL committee member was joined for three seven hour sessions by five other club patrons when the group began their Royal Poppy Campaign in August.

The scheme is selling and distributing packets of poppy seeds for planting across the country in time for the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War in 2014.

Mr Mentor-Morris said: "It was a bit of a nightmare but on the third day we got wise to this game.

"A builder came in after we spent all that time counting seeds and asked what we were doing.

"We told him we were counting poppy seeds and he just looked at us like we were the stupidest people on the planet and then told us we could just weigh them on electronic scales rather than count them all out.

"It is fair to say we were a little embarrassed - the chairman Phil Berry especially because he's a deputy headmaster and should have known better."

Rather than counting out the seeds one by one on pieces of A4 paper using tiny paint brushes, the group made themselves a "golden pen top".

They worked out the highlighter pen lid with its end cut off holds 1.1 grams, equating to between 1,000 and 1,050 seeds.

After counting out 200 packets of 1,000 seeds with each one being checked by three different people, the new method was definitely an improvement.

Dad-of-two, Mr Mentor-Morris added: "We all felt a bit daft, but its all for a good cause."

The branch took delivery of one million poppy seeds in the summer, which have been divided into packs of 1,000 for £2.99, 5,000 for £5.99 and 10,000 for £9.99.

Another one million seeds will be presented to Dartford Council leader Councillor Jeremy Kite at a Remembrance Sunday service in Stone in exchange for a £1,000 cheque.

The event takes place at 2.45pm in Stone Recreation Ground.