One of the UK’s longest-serving poppy sellers fell to her death in the Avon Gorge in Bristol after a long battle with depression and insomnia, a coroner has said.
Olive Cooke, 92, from Fishponds, Bristol, is believed to have sold around 30,000 poppies in the 76 years she dedicated to fundraising for the Royal British Legion.
She sold her first poppy in 1938 aged 16, after her father set up the Royal British Legion Branch in Bedminster. Her commitment to the charity was strengthened when her husband Leslie Hussey-Yeo, a sailor in the Royal Navy, was killed in 1943 when she was 21.
The coroner reached a conclusion of suicide following the inquest, and said the widow had suffered with low mood and depression for a number of years, and she had attempted to take her own life in 2009.
The retired post worker’s lifeless body was found on 6 May 2015 at around 6:30pm, below a bag containing her personal belongings and her walking stick, Avon Coroner’s Crown Court heard.
In a note discovered in Mrs Cooke's bedroom addressed to her “loving family and step family”, she wrote that she could “take no more” after suffering from “deep depression” and “little sleep”.
Mrs Cooke’s GP, Dr Diana Foster, told the inquest that the poppy-seller was prescribed sleeping tablets five days before her death after she complained of ongoing fatigue.
In a statement read to the court on behalf of Mrs Cooke's family, her granddaughter Louise King paid tribute to her and called he a “much-loved” mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
“She lived a full life and achieved so much of which we are extremely proud.
"She loved being independent and being able to do things for herself.
"Visiting family and friends and helping those who were less able was really important to her.
"Unfortunately she had a lifelong battle with depression and as she got older it became harder to cope."
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