AN appearance by the Gurkhas and an anonymous donation has helped fundraiser Irene Willis hold her most successful ever Poppy Appeal concert.

The sell-out show at Prince Henry’s Grammar School in Otley on Saturday, featuring music from Drighlington Brass Band and a lone piper, has raised £2,400 for the Royal British Legion.

The concert was attended by four Gurkhas from the Catterick Garrison, two Chelsea Pensioners and a host of dignitaries including the Deputy Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Andrew Barker, and Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland.

It was Mrs Willis, of Guiseley’s, 21st poppy appeal concert and also served as a fine way for her to celebrate her 80th year.

She said: “The concert has cleared £2,400 which is the most I have ever taken, but as well as the ticket sales that does include an anonymous donation that was handed in and has boosted the total up.

“The Gurkhas, who have just finished their training, were lovely young men and the Chelsea Pensioners thoroughly enjoyed themselves and have asked to come back next year.

“And the music was absolutely wonderful. Ken Smith, the piper, was terrific and played all the dignitaries in and then the lament at the end.

“And Drighlington Brass Band were fabulous as always, they played a good selection of tunes people would know and at the end everybody was waving flags for Land of Hope and Glory, so it was very colourful.

“There will definitely be another show next year – I’ve already had people asking me to reserve tickets for them for next year.

“Because this has been my 80th year, we laid on a glass of sherry for everyone too, as a little thankyou because a lot of people have been coming to the concerts ever since I started them.”

Mr Mulholland said: “I would like to congratulate Irene on all the hard work that she has put in to making this year’s event such a great success.

“It is important to remember that since last year’s concert the final remaining British survivors of World War I, men to whom we all owe a great debt, have passed away. In September we also saw the 70th anniversary of World War II.

“The news of further tragic losses of brave young men and women in Afghanistan serves as a solemn reminder of the Poppy Concert’s relevance even in the modern day and age.”

Other special guests at the concert included the Yeadon Air Cadet Squadron, representatives from the US base at Menwith Hill and Otley Bellman Paddy Steval.

Mrs Willis would like to thank Betty’s of Harrogate for providing the refreshments and Otley Lions for looking after the Chelsea Pensioners, who stayed at the Britannia Hotel in Bramhope.