RED, green and black poppies made from paper and plastic have been a fixture of remembrance ceremony for decades – but now a makeover has brought them some bling.

Jessica Allen has raised about £3,000 for armed forces veterans, service personnel and their families by customising poppies made by the Royal British Legion.

For the past five years the 30-year-old has been adding red resin crystals to the poppies and selling them for £5 each.

She raised £197 in her first year, but since then the sale of her poppy brooches has taken off and last year she made £2,013 for the Poppy Appeal.

Miss Allen, who works for a software firm in Abingdon and lives in Wantage, said: "I first made my customised poppies for my sister Bethany Reeve and my mum Senga Hashimi and once people saw them they started asking for them.

"I have featured them on Instagram and Facebook and now I get orders from around the world – all the money goes to the Poppy Appeal."

Miss Allen said she was keen to support the Poppy Appeal as one of her close friends had been in the Army.

She added: "I think it's great that the armed forces are so well supported in this area – this year I aim to sell 600 poppies and make £3,000 for the RBL, which will be the biggest amount I have raised so far."

Miss Allen, who is dating Waitrose nightshift manager Kojo Prempeh, said she was given poppies by the RBL's Abingdon branch so she could customise them.

She added: "Once I have glued the red crystals on they get quite heavy so I put pins on the back and people can wear them as brooches.

"So far it's mostly women buying them but a few men have bought them as well.

"People in my office have been wearing the poppies and I get a constant flurry of emails from people wanting to buy them.

"I have shipped some of my poppies to France and posted them to Australia."

Oxfordshire's Poppy Appeal was launched on Tuesday at St Edward's School in Oxford, which has strong links with the RAF.

Battle of Britain veteran Ken Hicks, an aircraft fitter in 1940, helped to launch the county's appeal, which aims to raise £627,000 in 2017/2018.

He worked on Spitfires during the Battle of Britain but was unable to become a pilot because of his poor eyesight.

Mr Hicks, a member of the Benson and Ewelme branch of the RBL, welcomed the crews and passengers of the two Puma Mk2 helicopters which flew in from RAF Benson near Wallingford.

Poppy Appeal organisers have distributed poppies and collection boxes to their collectors across the county.

On October 28 Abingdon's Market Place was transformed by a sea of poppies, from those adorning Oxfordshire's RBL Riders' motorcycles to a giant metal Poppy which were ‘planted’ by cadets in an official ceremony overseen by Abingdon’s Deputy Mayor Margaret Crick.

RBL county chairwoman Lynda Atkins said: "It's fantastic that Jessica has gone to such effort to create these special poppies to raise funds for RBL – support from the Abingdon area has been tremendous."

To buy one of Miss Allen's poppies email her at