Kenilworth couple help break poppy appeal record despite cancer diagnosis

Anne Chrimes (left) with her husband Sam Chrimes
Anne Chrimes (left) with her husband Sam Chrimes

A Kenilworth couple helped raise a record amount for the Kenilworth Poppy Appeal this year despite having to cope with an illness which later turned out to be cancer.

Anne Chrimes, 64, who was the main organiser of the town’s appeal since 2015, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma - a type of cancer which forms in the bone marrow - after feeling ill during most of the appeal.

Her husband Sam, 67, had to take up the mantle of running the appeal while Anne was ill.

With help from Anne, he had to coordinate the volunteers, organise the distribution of poppies to businesses and pool all of the money raised.

Despite these circumstances, their efforts helped raise £28,600 this year - a new record for Kenilworth.

Sam said: “I’m very proud in a sense - it was a job that had to get done. But in a way, Anne was my motivator. Because she was ill, I felt motivated to do it for her.

“When I told her the amount we raised, she was delighted. Even though it wasn’t her appeal per se, I view it as her effort. And of course, it would be nothing without the volunteers.”

Anne had the flu and a stomach infection at towards the end of October, when Kenilworth’s poppy appeal began.

This was exacerbated when she had a fall in her room, causing her great pain in her back. Sam called an ambulance but paramedics said they could not see any major damage.

When the pain did not go away, Sam took Anne to hospital on her GP’s advice. It was found she had two fractures in her spine, a stomach ulcer and was anaemic.

More tests were conducted and two weeks ago, Anne was diagnosed with multiple myeloma.

The condition can cause stomach ulcers and weakens the bones, which explains why Anne’s spine was so damaged after her relatively innocuous fall.

But Anne said the worst news was being told she would not be able to donate blood again.

Sam added: “She’s donated 114 pints of her own blood, and she wanted to reach 125.

“She always said: ‘I’ll give blood because you never know when you might need it.’ While she’s been ill she’s had about 15 blood tranfusions - so she was right.”

Cllr George Illingworth, chairman of the Kenilworth Royal British Legion, praised Sam’s determination to help the appeal.

He said: “Sam, masterminded by Anne, rose splendidly to the occasion and did all the hard work of distributing supplies and dealing with the cash collected.

“Thanks should also go to the generous people of Kenilworth, to the volunteers who helped in various ways, to the shops, pubs, clubs and churches who had collection boxes, and to Margaret Kite who collected every day in Sainsbury’s for two weeks.”