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Britain's longest serving poppy seller suffered with insomnia and depression

An inquest has heard that a 92-year-old poppy seller killed herself after suffering problems with depression and insomnia.

Olive Cooke had collected money in Bristol for the Royal British Legion for 76 years.

The inquest heard that Olive left instructions to the person who discovered the stool she had brought with her - telling them to call police.

The note said: "Please phone police 999 elderly Fishponds lady gone over cliff".

The charity fundraiser had neatly leaned her walking stick next to the stool, and also left a carrier bag nearby which contained a raincoat, details to help police with her identity - and even an empty wallet.

A suicide note said she had managed to get "little sleep" and could "take it no more". Her body was found at the bottom of the Avon Gorge in May. The coroner recorded a verdict of suicide. Richard Lawrence reports.

Inquest to resume into death of oldest poppy seller

Olive Cooke from Bristol spent her life raising money for the Royal British Legion Credit: i

The inquest is due to resume today into the death of Olive Cooke, the country's longest serving poppy seller.

The 92-year-old from Bristol was found dead in Avon Gorge in May. She spent her life raising money for the Royal British Legion.

She had complained about being bombarded with charity requests which led to the regulator promising to introduce tighter controls.

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Olive's Law? Tighter controls on charity begging letters promised

Olive Cooke received hundreds of letters a month. Credit: SWNS

The body regulating charities has told MPs it's committed to making changes in the wake of the death of Bristol poppy-seller Olive Cooke.

Olive, who was 92, was found dead at the foot of the Avon Gorge last month. She had in the past complained about being bombarded by requests from charities. Her family say that was not connected to her death, but at a meeting in Parliament today the regulator said tighter controls were being introduced on the way charities ask for donations.

'We respect what she stood for': Hundreds mourn poppy seller Olive Cooke

Olive was a familiar face around Bristol, selling poppies for 76 years and raising tens of thousands of pounds. Credit: ITV News

Friends and family of Britain's oldest poppy seller have said their goodbyes in Bristol.

The funeral of 92-year-old Olive Cooke, who was found dead in the Avon Gorge early last month, took place at the Fishponds church she attended every week for more than 70 years.

Olive spent her whole life raising money for the Royal British Legion after being widowed in the Second World War.

Hundreds of mourners attended her funeral. Some were members of the Royal British Legion, and many wore poppies to honour her life's work.

Hundreds came to mourn the 92-year-old, who was widely admired in Bristol. Credit: ITV News

This was her church for so long. She was a lovely lady. We are grieving for her.

– Revd Barry Bishop

Funeral of Britain's longest serving poppy seller takes place later today

Olive was a familiar face around Bristol, selling poppies for 76 years. Credit: ITV News

The funeral of Britain's longest serving poppy seller Olive Cooke takes place in Fishponds in Bristol today.

The 92-year-old was found dead in the Avon Gorge early last month.

Olive spent her whole life raising money for the Royal British Legion, after being widowed in the Second World War.

Poppy seller Olive Cooke left 'beautiful note' for family

Olive was a familiar face around Bristol, selling poppies for 76 years. Credit: ITV News

Britain's oldest poppy seller, 92-year-old Olive Cooke, left a note explaining her struggles with depression, before being seen to jump into Avon Gorge, an inquest heard today.

Great-grandmother-of-two Olive, who lost her first husband in the Second World War, volunteered for the Royal British Legion for 76 years, selling an estimated 30,000 poppies. The inquest heard that she died from multiple injuries, and had had long-term battles with low mood.

Olive became a war widow at the age of 21. Credit: Family

In the weeks and months before her death she had been plagued by hundreds of charity begging letters and phone calls, leading to suggestions that the intrusion had pushed her to take her own life however her family have insisted the charities were not to blame.

Olive's granddaughter said although the letters were getting intrusive, her grandmother believed in the fundamental importance of charities, and that she had left her family a "beautiful note" explaining the real issues surrounding her death, including struggles with depression and issues around being elderly.

After a short hearing today the inquest was adjourned until July 16.

The family say they hope to set up a fund in her name.

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Inquest into death of poppy seller Olive Cooke to open

Olive Cooke sold poppies for 76 years, raising tens of thousands of pounds for charity. Credit: ITV News

An inquest is due to be opened today into the death of Britain's longest-serving poppy seller.

Olive Cooke, who was 92 and from Bristol, died in Avon Gorge a fortnight ago (Wed 6 May). She had health problems and had also complained about pressure from charity cold callers.

Olive and her first husband Leslie, who was killed in the Second World War Credit: Family

Widow speaks out about charity begging letters

Jenny Phelps has received over a thousand letters. Credit: ITV News

A widow from Bristol has spoken out about the volume of letters she receives from charities.

Jenny Phelps from Coombe Dingle started giving money to charity after the death of her husband five years ago. She says she's now received over a thousand letters.

It follows the death of Britain's oldest poppy seller Olive Cooke, who was found dead in the Avon Gorge two weeks ago, and was plagued by charity appeals, telling a friend they made her feel guilty.

I don't say the charities are wrong for asking for money because obviously they're deserving causes, but they do all put gifts in and say 'will you please send back the baby blanket or £20 to help our cause', and it puts pressure on you.

– Jenny Phelps
Olive Cooke was getting up to 260 letters a month and phone calls from charities asking for money. Credit: SWNS
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