A VOLUNTEER who dedicated three decades of his life to raising money for veterans has died suddenly aged 58.
Brian Jones had organised the Poppy Appeal for the past 30 years for the Croydon branch of the Royal British Legion.
He died at home in Sanderstead on December 12, having collapsed the night before after battling illnesses for more than two years.
His devastated brother, Shaun Jones, 55, said: "I loved him to pieces; he looked after every single one of our family. I was very, very close to him."
Brian helped his mother, Dawn, organise the Poppy Appeal for 20 years before taking over from her when she died in 2000.
His father, Charles, a former paratrooper, was chairman of the branch for 30 years from the 1970s.
Brian continued the demanding role well into 2012 before reluctantly retiring due to his ill health.
Wally Filby, who has taken over organising the appeal, said: "It was a really big job and he did it for 30 years.
"I started to take over from him last year as he was not all that well. "He was very reluctant to give it up as he had been doing it for so long.
"He was a fantastic bloke and he really enjoyed doing the job.
"He did not let on how ill he was; his sudden death was a surprise to all of us."
Raised in Croydon, Brian served as a mechanic with the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers before working as a bus conductor and security guard, among other roles.
Brother Shaun remembered: "He was very talkative and would talk to any stranger. You would go shopping with him and find him talking to someone.
"He ended up looking after my family; he really looked after my two younger brothers when they had long illnesses, and my mum when she had a long illness. He has been like a mother in the family."
Brian was also remembered as an ardent motorbike enthusiast who had a collection of about 20, mainly Japanese, models.
Shaun said: "He just liked to have them; had been riding since he was about 15.
"I suppose he liked the freedom of it, meeting people and talking to people."
Mr Jones's funeral will be held at the Beckenham Crematorium at 2.15pm on Tuesday, January 8..