Poppy seller, 100, no plans to retire

Image caption Ron Jones said it was important he carried on collecting donations to help injured soldiers and their families

A 100-year-old poppy seller has said he has no plans to retire and will carry on raising money until he is no longer fit.

Ron Jones, of Bassaleg, had planned to stop collecting for The Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal last year after thinking he was “too old”.

But Mr Jones is back selling poppies in Newport after not wanting to sit in the house watching TV.

Mr Jones, who was 100 in April, said he would continue “as long as I am able”.

“Well they just won’t leave me alone, they think I am fit,” said Mr Jones who has been selling poppies for more than 30 years.

Herelies on lifts to get to the stall at Tesco on the Harlech Retail Park as he no longer has a car.

“I may as well sit here than sit in the house, I’m only watching television anyway.”

Image copyright Ron Jones
Image caption Ron Jones (middle of back row) played football while a prisoner of war near Auschwitz

Mr Jones was a prisoner of war in the Nazi death camp Auschwitz while serving in the 1st Battalion of the Welsh Regiment during World War Two.

It is not the first time his plans for retirement have been put on the backburner, the grandfather-of-two initially planned to retire in 2015 but carried on for another 12 months.

He said: “I thought I would be too old, but I’m not apparently.

“When I retired they even brought me a big hamper – they didn’t think I was coming back, but I’ve been back twice,” he said.

Mr Jones was captured in 1943 while fighting in the Middle East and after nine months in Italy was transferred to forced labour camp E715, part of the Auschwitz complex.

He has previously recounted his experiences at the camp where he worked six days a week in a factory and was permitted to play football with his fellow soldiers on Sundays.

Image copyright Ron Jones

After two years of being held at the camp, he was forced to join the “death march” of prisoners across Europe in 1945.

“It was bitterly cold, snow of course, and they put us in barns at night time. I walked [for] 17 weeks – I walked about 700 or 800 miles,” he said.

Last year one woman travelled from London to buy a poppy and make a donation after seeing Mr Jones on the TV, and an independent film crew has spent eight years following him to make a movie of his life called the Poppy Seller.

Mr Jones, who will receive a British Empire Medal later this month, said he had become a “bit of a celebrity” since he first shared his story 20 years ago in a book.

He was then invited to give talks at local schools and WI meetings at the age of 80.

“I never told anybody, I never made a fuss of it,” he said, adding he had not taken much notice of the film crew following him and had donated the fee to the Legion.

Monmouthshire-based film maker Stephen Horton said Mr Jones’ story was “inspirational”.

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