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Obituary: Former poppy appeal fundraiser for more than 50 years in New Malden
A dedicated poppy collector who survived the war as a soldier without a scratch has died.
Former army man Tom Kelley collected donations for the Maldens and Coombe Royal British Legion branch for more than 50 years come rain or shine.
He died aged 86 after his condition continued to deteriorate years after a heart operation.
He left behind his sister Janice and wife Daphne Kelley, 86, to whom he was happily married for 62 years in Hoppingwood Avenue, New Malden.
The pair met through his sister who was a nursery nurse alongside Mrs Kelly after the Second World War.
Mrs Kelley said: “I don’t think there is just one way you could describe someone. He was loyal, trustworthy and dependable – my first love.
“I remember seeing Gone with the Wind. It was probably the first film we saw together. We were very happy. We moved in together on our wedding day and lived in the same house ever since.”
The happy couple who had three children and 11 grandchildren flew out to New Zealand during their marriage as it had been both of their dreams to visit the country.
The family also treated them to a trip to Malta for their ruby anniversary and the pair enjoyed it so much they flew back the following year.
Mr Kelley was born in Ewell and attended Rutlish School in Merton Park before he joined the army aged 18 serving in Normandy, France, Belgium and Holland among others.
He also did a spell in Palestine after the war ended and worked as an accountant for the rest of his working life.
Mary Gillett, secretary of the Maldens and Coombe Royal British Legion branch, said: “He got through the war without a scratch. He was a nice chap. He would do anything to help out and he was marvellous at keeping records.
“He was one of our longest serving collectors and he will be sorely missed.”
Mrs Kelley said: “He would go all around the block collecting for years and years. He started off as a young man. From the time we were married he was always doing things like that.”
She said she would be wearing bright colours at her late husband’s funeral as requested by him, instead of the sombre black normally worn.
The funeral will be held on Friday, September 6 at Christ Church in Coombe Road, New Malden from 2.30pm.
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