Poppy sellers 'banned from Marks and Spencer'

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The Independent Online

Poppy sellers were banned from collecting outside a Marks and Spencer store because the Poppy Appeal was not one of the store's designated charities, they claimed today.

The sellers have been using the busy stretch of pavement in Swindon for the past 12 years, and usually raise around £5,000.

But after writing to the store in October for permission to hold their usual collection they were told they were not one of Marks and Spencer's listed charities.

They have taken up a less-busy spot outside a nearby supermarket but say they could have lost up to 10% of their income from the two-week collection.

Alan Baker, Swindon branch poppy organiser, told the Swindon Advertiser: "People are coming up to me and saying 'why aren't you outside the M&S?'

"I am so disappointed in the whole situation, considering the present climate.

"People are dying in Afghanistan and M&S won't support us while we are doing our best to raise money."

A spokesman for Marks and Spencer said: "We are a big supporter of the Poppy Appeal and poppy collectors are more than welcome in our Swindon store.

"We apologise for the misunderstanding and encourage them to get back in touch with the store management team."