Poppy seller Olive Cooke had long-term depression, inquest hears

Newspapers had reported that the 92-year-old jumped into the Avon Gorge in Bristol because of the deluge of fundraising requests she received from charities

The Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol
The Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol

Olive Cooke, the poppy seller who was found dead earlier this month, had long-term issues with periodic depression, an inquest into her death has heard.

Some national newspapers have attributed the death of 92-year-old Cooke, whose body was found in the Avon Gorge near the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, to the deluge of fundraising requests she received from charities.

She had given an interview to the Bristol Post newspaper last year about the high volume of direct mail she received from charities and said that in one month she received 267 such letters from a variety of charities.

But earlier this week her family denied that charities were to blame for her death.

According to the BBC, Linda Grove, the coroner's officer, told the hearing at Avon Coroners Court yesterday: "This lady had long-term issues with periodic depression and low mood."

The court heard that Cooke was pronounced dead at 6.20pm on 6 May by a paramedic and was formally identified by her grandson.

The inquest was opened and adjourned until 16 July, when a full hearing will take place.

Jessica Dunne, Cooke’s granddaughter, said on Monday that her grandmother had left a "beautiful note" explaining the reasons for her death, which were related to depression, a lack of sleep and health issues around being elderly. She said the death had nothing to do with charities.

Cooke was one of the UK's longest-serving poppy sellers, having collected money for the Royal British Legion in Bristol for 76 years.

The Fundraising Standards Board has launched an investigation into the allegations that Cooke was overwhelmed by fundraising requests after the Prime Minister, David Cameron, said he hoped the regulator would look into whether her death could have been avoided.

The Institute of Fundraising has said it will review its Code of Fundraising Practice and guidance after Cooke’s death.

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