Tributes as 'Poppy Man' of St Annes dies, aged 84

Spencer Leader, fondly known as ‘The Poppy Man’ of St Annes, has died aged 84.

By Tony Durkin
Monday, 27th June 2022, 12:35 pm
Updated Monday, 27th June 2022, 1:18 pm

A member of the Royal British Legion for more than 60 years, Spencer was awarded the MBE for his dedication to helping serving personnel as well as the ex-service men and women and their dependents .

During his membership he served in every capacity of the Legion’s St Annes Branch committee – president, chairman, secretary, welfare officer, social secretary, sick visitor, delegate to County committee, and National Conference and treasurer of branch and coastal group.

But his outstanding dedication was as Poppy Appeal organiser in Lytham and St Annes, seeing the amount raised climb from £40 in his first year to more than £40,000 in his final year before he had to give up due to bad health after taking a fall.

Spencer Leader was fondly known as the 'Poppy Man' and donned a poppy suit to promotion the annual Royal British Legion Appeal

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Memorial to heroes of First World War

In his four decades or so involved with the appeal, with a dedicated handful of helpers, hundreds of thousands of pounds were raised and Spencer was always on parade at the St Annes War Memorial for every service of Remembrance and spoke the words “We will Remember Them” on Remembrance Sunday.

Albert Cooper, former chairman of the St Annes branch of the Royal British Legion, said: “I have been a member of the Royal British Legion for 65 years, and have never come across anyone as dedicated and caring as, Spencer Leader.

“Spencer will be sadly missed and many of the people of Lytham and St Annes will remember ‘The Poppy Man’, particularly this November.”

Spencer Leader's efforts in promoting the Poppy Appeal helped raise hundreds of thousands of pounds over more than 40 years

Spencer, who came to St Annes from the Manchester area just over 50 years ago, had been a widower for almost 30 years, was a keen supporter of Squires Gate Football Club, and served on the committee there bad health curtailed his attending games

He leaves a daughter, Karen, sons Steven and Philip plus five grandchildren.

Steven said his dad had developed cystic fibrosis after being admitted to hospital with a chest infection. “Helping the Royal British Legion and raising money through the Poppy Appeal meant so much to him,” he said.

The funeral details are to be announced.

Spencer was a regular attender at the annual Remembrance Day service at St Annes
Spencer with the late comedian Bobby Ball at a launch of the appeal in St Annes nicknamed 'Rock on Poppy'
Spencer Leader promoting the Poppy Appeal at Lytham's Wartime Weekend.