Littlehampton Poppy Appeal collector Snowy gets top honour: 'I shall wear it with great pride'

One of Littlehampton's most prolific poppy appeal collectors said she was 'proud as a peacock' to have been given a medal from the Queen.

Known to many in the town as Snowy, Daphne Snowden has raised at least £140,000 for the Royal British Legion over 65 years.

Daphne Snowden, 77, from Fitzalan Road, Littlehampton, has been given a British Empire Medal from the Queen. Picture: Steve Robards

Daphne Snowden, 77, from Fitzalan Road, Littlehampton, has been given a British Empire Medal from the Queen. Picture: Steve Robards

And this afternoon, the 77-year-old from Fitzalan Road was honoured with the British Empire Medal from the Queen for her services to charity and the community in Littlehampton.

In her speech, Snowy said: "Well I can tell you when the first letter came, I thought I was going to go to the tower! It is very formal, all in black; it gave me the fright.

"But when I calmed down, I took it to a friend because I think they have got me muddled up, but no.

"I have been proud as a peacock - that is my family crest - and I am terribly proud to be given this award, and I thank you all very much indeed.

"I shall wear it with great pride, because it does represent the kindness of a lot of people we have here in Littlehampton, where I am very proud to live."

Snowy started as a volunteer Poppy Appeal collector aged 11, outside the post office in Streatham, South London, with her aunt.

In her twenties, she spread her fundraising around the world, collecting donations for good causes in Australia and New Zealand.

When Snowy was confined to a wheelchair aged 38, she did not let it stop her. And after her husband Leonard Snowden died, Snowy moved to Littlehampton 21 years ago and took up fundraising here in earnest.

Now, she is a familiar sight at Sainsbury's in High Street, Littlehampton and since 2014 alone, it is believed she has raised over £70,000 for the Littlehampton Poppy Appeal.

The retired nurse said her secret was 'just sitting quietly' and getting to know so many people in the town.

Derek Moore, Littlehampton Poppy Appeal organiser, was one of those who put forward Daphne for the honour and said the £140,000 mentioned was a conservative estimate.

He said: "I am just astonished with what she has done."

Snowy has also raised money for other causes. She has been a volunteer collector for the Fire Fighters' Charity for 58 years, and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution for 37 years.

Her medal was presented at the Millennium Chamber at Manor House, Church Street, Littlehampton, on behalf of the Queen by Vice Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex Harry Goring.

He said: "You have been teaching people without knowing the joy of giving."

Snowy's citation was read out by deputy lieutenant Margaret Bamford, who met her 18 months ago at the launch of the Littlehampton Poppy Appeal.

She said: "It was absolutely mind-blowing. I have never forgotten her; I always talk about her, and anybody I meet in Littlehampton knows her."

"It is a fitting honour that Snowy richly deserves, and will be warmly welcomed throughout the community."

Her friend Lorna Fleming was in the audience for the investiture. The 64-year-old from Wick met Daphne at Parkside Evangelical Church in St Floras Road, Littlehampton five years ago, and described her as 'feisty and fun to be with' and like a 'mini-celebrity' in Littlehampton.

She said: "It is a really big boost to her, as she hasn't been very well so this will really boost her up."

The mayor of Littlehampton, Billy Blanchard-Cooper, said he was 'ecstatic' that Daphne had been given the medal. He said: "She is a remarkable woman, and I think she is a true ambassador for anyone who is in a wheelchair.

"If everyone was a bit more like Snowy, the world would be a better place."