A railway ticket officer has steamed past his incredible £100,000 fundraising target for the Poppy Appeal – winning support from soap actors, sport stars and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg along the way.
Ron Wiltshire, from Wincobank, Sheffield, has been collecting money for the Poppy Appeal for the past nine years after surviving a heart attack in 2005 and deciding he wanted to give something back to charity.
In his first year of fundraising, he made around £400 but his efforts have grown every year – and he had raised £75,000 prior to this year.
Ron, who works for East Midlands Trains, takes two weeks off each year in late October from his job in the ticket office at Chesterfield station to travel up and down the country selling poppies to passengers.
The 62-year-old had hoped to collect £25,000 by Remembrance Sunday this year – but smashed the target with two weeks to go and has now raised more than £28,500 to date.
Ron has been selling special commemorative 1914-2014 metal poppy badges to mark the centenary of the start of World War I.
He is also promoting his fundraising efforts on Twitter, where he has received support from Coronation Street stars Les Dennis and Kym Marsh, as well as Sheffield sportsman Curtis Woodhouse.
He has also received the online backing of Deputy PM and Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg after meeting the politician on a train journey.
Ron said: “I saw him on the train and asked him to buy a badge but he said he had no change. So I asked him if he could tweet something so he took a note of my name and did it. It was brilliant of him.”
Mr Clegg told his 193,000 followers about Ron’s campaign and said he was a ‘great guy raising money for an important cause’.
Ron says he is now aiming collect £40,000 for the Poppy Appeal this year.
He said the reaction on train journeys from passengers has been brilliant – helped by the interest in the commemorative badges.
“It has been absolutely brilliant. Everybody wants one of the metal badges and it has gone crazy,” he said.
“I have now set a provisional target of £35,000 but hopefully it might hit £40,000.”
Ron said 2,500 badges were sold online in just 20 days –with his wife Margaret and himself running a busy operation at home packing up and sending off the items.
His most successful day of fundraising was travelling around the country on five trains between Sheffield and London last weekend.
He made £975 – but hopes that total can be beaten again before November 11.