Joe’s ‘The Poppy Man of Pitstone’

Joe Marling (pictured in 2014). Joe: 'I tell children they will be looked upon with respect wearing a poppy.'
Joe Marling (pictured in 2014). Joe: 'I tell children they will be looked upon with respect wearing a poppy.'

A dedicated Pitstone poppy seller is bringing wartime spirit to the village in honour of the Royal British Legion.

Joe Marling, 77, has been nicknamed ‘The Poppy Man of Pitstone’, as he gives his time to collect donations outside Mason’s Store – 2017 being his seventh year of volunteering.

Joe is always based outside the shop for two weeks, and his previous efforts have raised a staggering £12,000 to support the Armed Forces.

Joe said: “One guy, when it was pouring with rain, said: ‘Don’t you get wet?’ and I replied, ‘At the end of the day, I can go home and have a shower, but not those soldiers giving life and limb for us.

“Normally, over the two weeks I collect 15 tins but I’ve collected 13 already and it’s only Thursday (November 9).I think this will be bigger!”

Born in 1940, Joe grew up in Royal Park, London. During the war, his father served with the Middlesex Regiment, but sadly Joe’s mother and father died when Joe was in his teens and early twenties.

He moved to a flat to look after his younger brother, and worked for Guinness Park Royal for 37 years, retiring and moving to Pitstone at 53 with his wife, Shirley (now 80).

Joe said: “I can remember being called to the air raid shelter and we once heard a doodlebug come over and land a road and a half away - it blitzed one of the houses!”

Joe has a passion for restoring vehicles, having worked on a 1947 coal lorry, while he also owns a British Army jeep (in service from 1942-57).

This year Joe is wearing an original World War Two paratrouper outfit and also owns a Middlesex regiment uniform.

Joe said: “I have an air raid siren which we use during the November 11 ceremony and people also buy poppies on the way to Sunday service.

“I’d like to thank everyone for donating - or bringing me things; to Mason’s for the tea, to New May Fu for the Chinese and to Woodyz for pizza. Finally, thank you to those standing in for me while I look after my wife at lunchtime.”