STALWART poppy seller Eileen Stoat has died aged 92.
Mrs Stoat, of Corbett Road, Waterlooville, was the most successful poppy seller in the town and raised more than £11,000 in the past 10 years.
She was a familiar face selling poppies in Asda and Ken, her only child, said she will be sadly missed during this year’s fundraising.
Mrs Stoat was born in Warminster, Wiltshire, in 1921 and joined the Wrens at the outbreak of the Second World War.
She was stationed at the Stockheath Camp, in Leigh Park, and it was then she met her husband John, a Royal Marine.
Mr Stoat, 66, who lived with his mother, said: ‘They met when they were out dancing. They only had three dates before they were married.
‘My father was going out to India and I think they must have thought it might be the last time they saw each other so went for it.’
The family lived in Waterlooville and Mrs Stoat made it her mission to raise the most money out of all the collectors.
In June she was awarded a trophy for all her hard work for the Royal British Legion. And she told The News how she was inspired by her father.
He was an orphan and became a physical training instructor in the army. He instilled in her a fundamental desire to help others.
Mrs Stoat had several jobs but was mainly a housewife.
At one point she was a potato and cabbage picker at Plant Farm, which is now the West of Waterlooville housing estate.
She also worked for a time at the Red Willows nursing home.
Mr Stoat, a father of two, said: ‘She was really well known in the community. I went in to Asda to tell one of the supervisors that mum had passed away and it just broke their hearts.
‘I know for a fact there’s going to be a lot of people going in in November and thinking, ‘where is she?’
‘She said last year it would be her last year collecting. She must have known.’
Mrs Stoat’s funeral was held at St John’s Church, Purbrook, attended by Royal British Legion standard bearers.
‘It was an absolutely lovely send-off,’ said Mr Stoat.
‘What I was very touched about was a moment when the three standard bearers with their flags raised in the air and, just as the hearse went by, they lowered them.
‘It was very fitting. She was absolutely tops.
‘She was loved by everybody. She was the most wonderful mother.’