Sterling service . . . Peter Hogg, who has been selling poppies for 68 years, prepares for this year’s Anzac Day dawn service. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

by Shelley Inon

Peter Hogg has spent the past 68 years selling poppies for Anzac Day, and this year far as his memory serves him was the first year he stayed away.

At “91 and a-half years old” – and in the midst of a pandemic – he had decided it wasn’t safe to sit in a supermarket and sell poppies, Mr Hogg said.

Despite being vaccinated against Covid, he realised his age made it more likely he would need to be admitted to hospital if he contracted the virus.

“I don’t want to stick my neck out.”

Money raised from poppy sales was only to be used for servicemen, and it “got a lot of people out of trouble”, he said.

With 300 “servicemen or women” around the world at any one time, “they can come back injured, or they could have picked up a virus”.

Mr Hogg joined the regular army in 1948.

“We thought we were going to Korea, but our government pulled us out .. so we never got away.”

After serving five years in the regular army he joined an emergency group a part of the Ministry of Defence emergencies such as floods and other natural disasters.

He still remembers the time the British Isles rugby team was stranded on the West Coast, floods having cut off its passage to its next game.

He and his workmates climbed “all the way up the mountain” to divert the water.

“We got it [the road] open in time for the second test match.”

They had a special ride back to the park and three seats put aside for them at the game.

Mr Hogg has been a vice-president of the RSA and then a president.

“When I completed the second term I became a welfare officer for 30-odd years”.

Welfare officers were “hands on” and he did all of the home repairs for the servicemen, along with finishing houses for widows and completing bathroom renovations for those in times of trouble.

He could still remember the first style of poppies he sold.

They were different from the ones sold now. They were more realistic “with four or five petals – a red poppy on a wire”.

He hoped while he wasn’t able to be out collecting money for Poppy Day people had still remembered to dig deep.

“People give up so many years of their life” trying to keep the country safe, Mr Hogg said.