Hornchurch poppy tribute to lost Desert Rat Dad and Great War Grandad

Two generations of fighting soldiers remembered as part of shopkeeper’s fundraising effort

A SHOPKEEPER has paid tribute to her soldier father and grandfather in a Poppy Appeal display window.

Pat Mackness has created the display in her shop, Pacific Balloons, in Ardleigh Green Road, Hornchurch for 12 years to promoted the appeal’s cause and persuade people to donate more.

But the display has a personal dimension, as it includes the medals of her father and grandfather and the tin helmet and SAS cap her father used when he fought as a Desert Rat in North Africa.

Her father, an SAS soldier during the Second World War who survived a German concentration camp, died suddenly in 1959 when she was 12 years old from a brain haemorrhage, which doctors believed was directly linked to being hit on the head during the war.

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“He had a really bad stutter from the shock and he got nightmares for years after – he used to wake up screaming,” she said. “I think about him and all the other people, I must have been dreadful. It was awful when he died because I was the apple of his eye.

“I like to be patriotic and think of all the people who give their lives for this country. I do think it helps in raising money and raising awareness.”

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Mrs Mackness, 63, said children from Ardleigh Green School next door are particularly fascinated by the display.

“We also get quite a lot of people from the British Legion coming in and we’ve even had people who get off the bus to say what a nice thing to do.”

For more information about the appeal visit www.poppy.org.uk.

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