Sheffield Ron’s mission to help our heroes

Poppy seller Ron Wiltshire at Sheffield railway station
Poppy seller Ron Wiltshire at Sheffield railway station
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The shocking death of a soldier brought a poppy vendor out of retirement – and now he’s urging the people of Sheffield to show they care too.

Train ticket officer Ron Wiltshire first began selling floral tributes to British servicemen and women after surviving a heart attack in 2005.

Determined to give something back, Ron persuaded employers at Sheffield station to let him sell badges and flowers for the British Legion in the run-up to Remembrance Sunday.

The following year he took two weeks’ annual leave and ran up and down trains to London collect cash.

He then founded The East Midlands Trains Poppy Appeal, roping in other ticket officers on the London route every year.

So far the work has raised more than £16,000 for the Sheffield branch of the British Legion.

The success meant that Ron could hang up his money tin and toast a job well done when he turned 60 last year.

But the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby – the soldier butchered in broad daylight in Woolwich in May – made Ron, of Attercliffe, postpone his well-earned rest.

He said: “The plan was for me to go part time and end the collecting, just selling badges.

“Then I saw the horrific tale of what happened to Lee Rigby and I thought, how can I justify sitting back doing nothing?

“So my short collecting retirement was over and now I am back.”

On top of selling poppies at Sheffield station, Ron also delivers them to the homes of elderly people who cannot get out and about to buy their poppy.

East Midlands Trains have allowed him leave to carry out his work this year.

Ron said: “I shall be running up and down trains with my collecting tin 12 hours a day, hopping on and off to catch as many passengers as possible.

“The ambitious target this year is £20,000.”