A MYSTERY poppy wreath ‘thief’ has been revealed as a Quedgeley parish councillor with good intentions.
Pensioner Jean Hanks, 82, has been rapped by fellow councillors after removing the wreaths from Quedgeley’s war memorial and recycling them at Sainsbury’s.
Mystery surrounded their disappearance, with some fearing they had been stolen by antisocial yobs.
St James’ Church vicar John Ward even wrote a letter to say that the church wasn’t responsible for the disappearance.
But it emerged at a meeting of councillors last week that Mrs Hanks had removed the wreaths, albeit with the best of intentions.
War veteran Tom Perry, 72, from Quedgeley, said: “She needs her knuckles rapped for this. It is very naughty. They should be kept there until they look tatty but they usually last at least three months.
“Once they are gone, they are gone and you can’t get them back but perhaps there are some spare wreaths that could be used to replace them.
“They are put there for a good reason – to remember the sacrifices that people have made for us.”
Mrs Hanks, who has clocked up more than 50 years of voluntary work and is the longest serving parish councillor in Quedgeley, said: “Sainsbury’s were collecting them and I wasn’t sure how long they would be recycling them for.
“We didn’t want them blowing around the churchyard all winter.
“In Westminster they get rid of them after a week.
“There was no secret about it as I told our parish office before I did it.”
But fellow councillors rallied to express their concerns.
Councillor Steve Smith said: “They should still be there. They should not have been removed as they are a token of remembrance for the people of the parish. We have got no right to remove them.”
Vice-chairman Graham Smith said: “It is a bit early for them to be taken away. People stopped me in the streets to ask me about it.
“I drove down to Stonehouse the other day and they still have theirs on display.”
Coun Julian Powell added: “The chairman is going to have a word to say, it was a bad thing to have done.”
Parish clerk Jacquie Webster admitted: “I don’t know why she did it but she did it with the best of intentions.”
This year Sainsbury’s supermarket has been taking in wreaths and poppies across Gloucester to be recycled. They were collected as part of a scheme running in stores from November 12-24 to help raise money for the charity.
Catherine Gowers, corporate partnerships manager at The Royal British Legion, said: “We will be using all of the recycled poppies we receive to make new ones or to raise funds from the recycled material, all of which will support next year’s Poppy Appeal.”