TRIBUTES have been paid to a life-long supporter of the Hurst Green Branch of the Royal British Legion, who recently passed away aged 91.
Frank George William Blackman was born in Bantony Cottage in Robertsbridge to George and Mabel Blackman and was a brother to Dorothy.
After leaving school he enlisted in the army in 1939, aged just 16 years old.
He trained in the Royal Sussex Regiment until December 1939, when he was transferred to the regular army, and in 1943 he was transferred back to the Royal Sussex Regiment. During this time he gained promotion and became a Drill Sergeant.
He was released from service in July 1946 and went to work for Edward David Smith, known as Dave, a cartage contractor at Lodge Farm, Hurst Green.
In 1950, Frank married Hilda, Dave and Dolly Smith’s only daughter and the family moved into Lodge Farm bungalow.
Sadly Dave Smith died in August 1963 and the family had to leave the bungalow, and move to Stone Cottages at Coopers Corner.
Frank went to work for the then owner of Coopers Corner Farm, Mr Wrenn, and subsequently for Robert and John Marks and finally Mr Brandt of Bookes Farm Hawkhurst, who purchased the land and cottages.
On his retirement in 1987, Frank and Hilda moved into 1 Coronation Gardens in Hurst Green. Sadly Hilda passed away in December 1992.
The couple had four children - Phillip, Sandra, Christine and Ian.
Daughter Sandra Sargent said: “Dad was a life-long member of the Royal British Legion, where he spent many hours fund raising. He and mum annually organised the Hurst Green poppy appeal, when, as children we would spend time assembling the poppies, as the parts arrived separately.
“He was both secretary and chairman of the Hurst Green Branch, which coincidently was founded by our Grandfather Dave Smith after the First World War.
“He was the standard bearer for many years and one of his proudest moments was being selected to carry the Hurst Green Standard at the Royal Albert Hall Festival of Remembrance in 1971, in the presence of the Queen.”
Sandra remembered her father as a keen gardener, renowned for his sweet peas.
In his earlier years he played football for both Robertsbridge and Etchingham and his enthusiasm for the sport never wavered, often watching matches on television.
In March last year Frank celebrated his 90th birthday with a party at his bungalow in Coronation Gardens, with his children, many of his grandchildren, great-grandchildren, friends and neighbours.
In August last year after a long stay in hospital, Frank moved to Mais House, the Royal British legion Nursing and Care home in Bexhill, enjoying his last months with his fellow comrades.