A Poppy Appeal fundraiser has been recognised for her 40 years of service to the cause.

Betty Reed, 81, from Brighton, was presented with the Royal British Legion's gold award for service by former Brighton Kemptown MP Sir Andrew Bowden, president of Brighton's Royal British Legion branch.

For 40 years Betty has dedicated herself to the appeal, raising thousands of pounds to help serving and ex-servicemen and women.

Since her husband, disabled exserviceman Peter Reed, died 38 years ago, Betty has been supported by the Royal British Legion.

She said: "When Peter died it was wonderful to have the Royal British Legion there for me.

"After you have lost your soulmate, it makes an awful lot of difference, people coming round and helping you."

Already a regular appeal fundraiser at her home in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, Betty vowed to do even more to support the appeal after experiencing first-hand the difference it made to people's lives.

She moved to Brighton 28 years ago and continued her efforts, organising poppy distribution, money collections and events.

Sir Andrew said: "I first met Betty more than 20 years ago when she was one of my constituents.

"She has been a great supporter of the Royal British Legion and this year helped us to raise more than £50,000.

"She has a tremendous personality, is full of life and willing to help anybody.

"People like Betty are absolutely vital.

Without them the appeal would not raise anywhere near as much money as it does and they are the bedrock of the total amount collected each year."

Betty, who has received previous long-service awards, described the latest as "the icing on the cake". She said: "It was a wonderful surprise when Andrew gave me the award."

Betty said some people seemed to think the appeal was not collecting as much money as it used to but that could not be further from the truth.

She said: "We are as well-supported as we have ever been. People are so generous.

I don't know how much money I've collected over the years but it is a lot.

"It's great to know that you can do something to help someone when they need help. I'm proud to be a part of that."

Betty continues to support the appeal and is now looking forward to collecting her badge for 50 years' service.

To find out more about how you can support the Poppy Appeal or to become an appeal collector, call 08457 725725 or visit www.britishlegion.org.uk.