Inquest into the death of Olive Cooke hears nothing about fundraising requests she received

Avon Coroners Court concludes that the 92-year-old poppy seller committed suicide by jumping into the Avon Gorge after suffering from depression, insomnia and breast cancer

Olive Cooke
Olive Cooke

The volume of charity fundraising requests received by the 92-year-old poppy seller Olive Cooke was not mentioned at an inquest into her death, which concluded yesterday that she had committed suicide.

Cooke died when she jumped into the Avon Gorge in Bristol after suffering from depression, insomnia and breast cancer, the inquest at Avon Coroners Court heard.

The assistant coroner, Terence Moore, said: "Mrs Cooke was a lady who had suffered with low mood and depression for a number of years and there had been a significant attempt to take her own life as long ago as 2009."

Cooke left a note at the spot where she climbed the fence to jump into the gorge which read: "Please phone police 999 elderly Fishponds lady gone over cliff."

She also left possessions in a carrier bag at the spot, including her watch, a purple raincoat, a green umbrella and an empty purse.

Another note was found at her home addressed to her family.

"I find that with these last four months of health and deep depression and little sleep I can take no more," it said. "Thank you for all your love and kindness always."

Cooke was one of Britain’s longest-serving poppy sellers and had volunteered for the Royal British Legion in the role for 76 years.

Many national newspapers ran the story of her death prominently when it first broke in May, with several of them linking it to the volume of charity fundraising requests she received.

She had given an interview to the Bristol Post newspaper in October in which she said that she had received 267 fundraising letters from dozens of charities in one month.

The reaction to her death sparked a chain of events that has led the government to make amendments to the charities bill that would force large charities to say how they protect vulnerable people from unreasonable fundraising behaviour and to reveal the number of fundraising complaints they receive.

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