Inspirational women: 'Grantham's poppy lady' has raised over half a million for charity
We are celebrating International Women’s Day (today) at the Journal with the start of a series of features highlighting inspirational women right here in Grantham.
International Women’s Day is a day when women across the world are recognised for their achievements without regard for divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or cultural.
At the Journal, we are fortunate to meet so many incredible people right here in our town who do so many amazing things for their community, a community which may not always realise how much of an impact they make.
This week we spoke to Grace Knightall, affectionately known as ‘Grantham’s poppy lady’ after selling poppies for over 40 years and raising an incredible half a million pounds for the Royal British Legion (RBL).
She has travelled the length and breadth of England to attend RBL conferences, alongside husband John, and is a regular face at almost every fete, fair and festival in Grantham.
Grace was born in Sunderland in 1945. After meeting John, who was in the army, the couple moved to Cumbria for eight years before settling in Grantham 27 years ago.
They have two children, daughter Angela and son Adrian, three grandchildren and one great-grandson.
Despite bringing up a family and holding down jobs at what is now the McCain factory, near Easton, and care homes around town, Grace joined the RBL as soon as she moved to Grantham and has been volunteering for the organisation ever since.
She is now the county vice chair of the women’s section and received her gold medal a few years ago. We spoke to Grace about whether she has any plans to slow down anytime soon ...
Why did you want to get involved in the RBL?
My grandad died in the Second World War but he was one of the first to receive a medal for his Royal British Legion work, so it has always been in the family. I started selling poppies when I was young and have just never stopped.
What have been some of your highlights?
I have had many great moments over the years, most recently when I met Anne, the Princess Royal, in Winchester, when I was asked to accept a certificate on behalf of the women’s section in Lincolnshire. I also attended the Queen’s Buckingham Palace garden party in 2000. I enjoy having a stall at the passing out parade every month at the Prince William of Gloucester Barracks. I try and be at every event including Grantham Carnival, Dysart Park dog show and the market on St George’s Day. We sell all things, including knitted poppies and teddies.
What keeps you going after all these years?
The people. I have had so many amazing conversations with people. I also love visiting little ones in schools as they take it all in. They are next generation. I am also an RBL welfare volunteer which keeps me busy.
Do you have any plans to retire?
I will always find time for poppies. It keeps me alive. I’m out in all weathers. I’ve stood many a time on St Peter’s Hill in the snow. People think I’m daft but it is a way of life.