A DEDICATED poppy collector who has been rattling her tin for 40 years is back on the beat again this year.

Ann Bendall, who collects in the West Walks area of Dorchester, is backing the county town’s bid to improve on last year’s record-breaking Poppy Appeal.

Last year Dorchester and the surrounding district raised £26,600, its highest ever total, and 80-year-old Ann is determined to help it go even better this time round.

Ann started collecting after getting involved with the Royal British Legion 40 years ago and since then has gone out in all weathers year on year to support a cause she cares passionately about.

She said: “I had some friends in the legion and joined the women’s section first and then from there started doing the poppies.”

Ann said she had a number of ‘regulars’ who wait for her to come round every year before getting their poppies off her.

She said she hoped her contribution would go towards another successful year for the county town.

Ann said: “I’m hoping for another record.

“Dorchester always does very well.”

Ann was presented with a certificate from Dorchester Mayor Andy Canning at the launch of the county town’s Poppy Appeal in recognition of her contribution over the last four decades.

Councillor Canning said it was the commitment and passion shown by volunteers like Ann that made the appeal such a successful fundraising initiative.

He said: “It’s an incredible job that they do because they go out every year often in very poor weather conditions and collect money in the streets, in shops and go round people’s houses.

“It keeps the memory alive of the sacrifice of all servicemen in the First and Second World War and conflicts since.

“That’s an incredibly important job.”