The life of ‘poppy man’ Tommy Mahon

Tommy Mahon
Tommy Mahon

TOMMY Mahon, best known as Lancaster’s “poppy man” who sold poppies in Horseshoe Corner for 40 years, has died aged 77.

Tommy, who lived in Langdale Road, was born on May 3, 1933 in Bally James Duff in County Cavan.

He first came to Lancaster on holiday with some friends in 1953 and while here met Sheila Milner, of Edward Street, on a blind date at the Picturedrome in Church Street.

Not long after this, he headed back to Belfast, but his return was shortlived.

Sheila wrote to him every day and three weeks later he came back to Lancaster to be with his future wife.

The couple were married four years later at St Anne’s Church in Moor Lane.

Tommy started out farm labouring, then worked for Brook Coals, in Lancaster, followed by a stint at Nightingale Hall Farm, in Wyresdale Road.

He then worked as a driver at Steve Hancock’s of Overton and later took a job as a drayman for Mitchell’s of Lancaster, delivering beer to the city’s many pubs.

Tommy retired early in the 1980s but was still very active within the community.

He sold poppies on Horseshoe Corner during the first couple of weeks of November, ever since 1970 and carried on volunteering for the Royal British Legion for 40 years, right up until November last year.

Tommy stood down after finding out he had lung cancer and sadly died on January 3 at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, surrounded by his family.

In an interview with the Lancaster Guardian in November, Tommy said: “To me, the poppy signifies pride and dignity. I’ve been well looked after here in Lancaster city centre, with shopkeepers bringing me cups of tea, and plenty of people stopping for a chat.

“If you’re well-mannered and respect all the people, then they will respect you.”

Tommy leaves behind four children – Fred, John, Anne and Julia – 10 grandchildren, Billy, Jeff, April, Jenny, Samantha, John, Stuart, Michael, Craig and Katie, and eight great-grandchildren.

“He loved spending time with them all, and loved his family to bits,” said his daughter Julia. “He would put a smile on everyone’s face.”

“The family would like to thank Dr David Langdon at Dalton Square Surgery, Macmillan nurse Debbie Dixon, all the oncology nurses at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary and the Reverend Ken Clapham, of St Cuthbert’s Church in Over Kellet, for his prayers.

Tommy’s funeral was due to take place yesterday, Thursday, at St Luke’s Church, Skerton, followed by a burial at Skerton Cemetery.