Devoted charity collector from Kenilworth describes ‘shock’ at receiving British Empire Medal

Margaret Kite selling poppies in Sainsbury's in Warwick Road
Margaret Kite selling poppies in Sainsbury's in Warwick Road

A devoted charity collector from Kenilworth has described her ‘shock’ after being awarded a British Empire Medal in the New Year’s Honours List.

Margaret Kite, 85, of Hermitage Way, has been helping a variety of charities collect funds for 26 years, including Marie Curie, Myton Hospices, Waverley Day Centre, the Royal British Legion and Dogs Trust.

She found out about her award in November, but she had to keep quiet about it until 2017. Margaret insisted she had no idea who nominated her to receive the medal.

She said: “It’s a real shock, and a big, big honour.

“I couldn’t believe it when I got the letter, and I still can’t believe it now.

“It’s been the most difficult thing to keep my trap shut about it.

“I would never, ever have dreamt of anything like this - I’m just doing it to help people really.”

Margaret started her passion for charity collection for the Royal British Legion, and she soon began helping lots of other charities collect funds.

She has her own spot in Sainsbury’s in Warwick Road every year where she sells poppies before Remembrance Sunday. The supermarket recognised Margaret’s work in 2014 by officially championing her as a charity volunteer.

She received even more recognition later that year when she was named as Kenilworth’s Citizen of the Year, which she also said was a big shock.

And in May 2016 Margaret was able to meet Prince Charles at Clarence House through her work with Marie Curie.

Margaret said her desire to help came from a stern word from her grandmother, Agnes, when she was around eight years old.

Margaret said: “She told me in no uncertain terms that I was selfish and a glutton - I know I was then.

“That was the best lesson I’ve ever learnt in my life. It stayed in my memory and never went away.

“When I’m out collecting, I know that it’s helping somebody. Every coin that goes into my bucket or box helps.

“I’ve been lucky in my life, so it’s nice to know I can give a little bit back to the community.

“I can’t believe the generosity of people when I’m collecting - it’s absolutely brilliant.”

When asked if she will carry on collecting for charity, Margaret said: “Oh my gosh, yes, of course I’m going to.

“I’ve got lots of dates this year already and I’m waiting for some more to be lined up.

Her next collection will be at Warwick Racecourse on Saturday January 14.