Co-op sacks Poppy Appeal Stanley over toy promo 'fraud'
CHARITY fundraiser and Poppy Appeal organiser Stanley Rudge has been sacked by the Co-op.
He was suspended more than a fortnight ago for alleged irregularities in the way coupons for a soft toy promotion were collected.
He and colleague Trena Gwilliam handed the Goodness Gang toy collection to poorly children at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital last month.
Having been suspended by his bosses at the Co-op in Lydney for four weeks, with pay, he was called to the store on Friday to learn his fate and was dismissed after ten years at the store, most recently as evening supervisor.
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The fruit and veg-shaped toys could be bought for £1 each with 20 stickers, which were given out to every customer when they spent £5 in store.
Mr Rudge said he was accused of using stickers collected from customers after the closing date of the offer.
He said he plans to appeal his sacking with the help of his union USDAW and has been visiting the job centre to look for work in the meantime.
"I don't want my job back but I do want to clear my name," he said.
"I'm done with the Co-op, I think I've been treated very unfairly but I want to appeal because I want to be able to get a job somewhere else."
He said he thinks a "slap on the wrist" would have been a more appropriate punishment and said all he was guilty of was ignorance, as he didn't realise the offer had expired.
His dismissal has left people in the town fuming.
Alison Palmer, who's known him for seven years, is planning to start a petition for to show their support.
She said: "He's so well known in Lydney and people feel very strongly about this – we just all want to get behind him."
She plans to ask people on the street to pledge their moral support for him.
Outside of work, Mr Rudge is the vice chairman of Lydney's Royal British Legion branch and has helped raise thousands of pounds for the charity in his role.
He will be on hand as usual later this month to help launch the 2013 appeal in the town and open the pop-up charity shop the legion takes over each year at the town's old Post Office.
Town and district councillor Bill Osborne, a former Lydney mayor, knows Mr Rudge, 36, well and said the situation has left a "bitter taste in the mouth".
"He's incredibly dedicated to everything he does and I know a sizEable number of Co-op customers are vowing never to trade with them again because of this," he said.
"Without knowing the full facts, it's difficult as the Co-op aren't saying much about it but I do feel for him and hope he will be alright."
A spokesman for The Midcounties Co-operative said: "This remains a confidential matter.
"As the case is still ongoing we are unable to comment any further at this stage."