Town mourns poppy collector

We will remember ... Popular Poppy Appeal collector and former stable lad George Wake, who has died aged 83.
We will remember ... Popular Poppy Appeal collector and former stable lad George Wake, who has died aged 83.

One of Newmarket’s best known Poppy Appeal collectors has died just days before this year’s Remembrance Day commemorations.

George Wake, of Churchill Court, died in his sleep on Monday, October 31, hours after carrying out a collection in the town’s High Street for this year’s appeal, aged 83.

Among those paying tribute to the former stable lad was his eldest daughter Susan Peachey, from Holywell Row, and Bill Sadler, chairman of the Newmarket and District Branch of the Royal British Legion.

“He was such a caring person who never had a bad word to say about anybody,” said Susan.

“He loved his racing, family parties and selling his poppies.

“Over the years he held the shield for raising the most money in the town from the appeal on numerous occasions. He really will be missed by us all.”

Mr Sadler added: “George was one of the most efficient and well liked Poppy Appeal collectors we have ever had.

“He was a very gregarious man and will be sorely missed.”

Starting out a career in racing at the age of 14, George worked for many stables across the town, including those of Harry Wragg, Henry Jellis and Harry Thomson-Jones.

He did two years National Service with the Suffolk Regiment which saw him spend time in Palestine.

Although officially retiring in 2000, Mr Wake, a former Soham resident, continued working on a part-time basis at bloodstock auctioneers Tattersalls until last year.

“My dad’s best years were at Harry Thomson-Jones’ yard,” said Susan.

“He spent 15 years there from the 1980s right up until Mr Thomson’s retirement in 1996 and he loved it up there.”

Away from racing and selling poppies, Susan has revealed her dad also had another interest.

“My dad really liked his flowers, and in particular fuchsias. He won prizes from Newmarket in Bloom for his hanging basket displays,” added Susan.

As a mark of respect Bouquets of Newmarket, where Mr Wake was a regular customer, will be closing for his funeral which will take place at St Mary’s Church, Newmarket, on Wednesday, November 14.

Proceeds raised from donations handed over on the day will be split between Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal Fund and Racing Welfare.