EVERY year Robert Laidlaw says it will be his last year selling poppies in Clydebank.

And the 82-year-old has said it again, but admits, with a grin: “Probably not.”

After 26 years of leading the annual drive for the Scottish Poppy Appeal as part of Clydebank’s Rotary Club, the group is approaching £300,000 raised in nearly three decades.

The staggering figure includes three years in a row where Bankies donated £25,000 – a generosity Robert is keen to praise from his spot outside the town’s Asda.

There is a steady stream of residents dropping in donations for a poppy, many while already wearing one.

“I did my national service,” Robert says. “It’s a duty. Poppies still mean something to people. A lot of people don’t agree with it, but most people do.

“When it comes to the 11th day and the 11th hour, it still means something.

“I’m here today because people gave their lives – boys at 16 who were killed the first day, and things like that.”

Born in Bowling and raised in Old Kilpatrick, Robert completed his national service in the Suez campaign and attends the George Square ceremony each year.

He used to sell poppies in Drumchapel, but cut back to focus on Clydebank, when the area became a bit too large to cover. But he still stands from about 10am to 4pm several days a week, with the help of four or five colleagues.

Now living in Drumchapel, Robert is still well known in Clydebank, having been owner of Laidlaw’s garage for decades in the town.

He added: “I say ‘last year’ every year. But I’ll be back.”

Gordon Michie, Poppyscotland head of fundraising, said: “We cannot say enough or thank Robert enough for his unwavering dedication to the Poppyscotland cause over the course of the past 25 years and more.

“It’s only through volunteers like Robert that we are able to fund the critical and life-changing support we provide the armed forces community in Scotland.

“We’re always on the lookout for individuals, groups of friends, or community organisations that have good organisational skills to come forward and volunteer for Poppyscotland.

“Volunteering with us offers some great benefits: our volunteers gain a real sense of achievement, immense pride and satisfaction by doing something worthwhile.

“It’s also a great opportunity to meet new people and have fun while giving something back, so, if this sounds like something for you, please do get in touch.”

Contact volunteer@poppyscotland.org.uk to offer your time.