One of Oxfordshire's oldest war veterans today urged people to give generously to the Poppy Appeal.

Two Puma Mk2 helicopters arrived in dramatic fashion at an event at St Edward's School in Oxford.

Veteran Ken Hicks was just 16 when he signed up as an aircraft apprentice, and went into action two years later in the Battle of Britain in 1940.

The aircraft fitter moved with No 222 Natal Fighter Squadron to RAF Hornchurch in Essex where he repaired Spitfires amid a deluge of bombs.

Now 95, he was at St Edward's School in Oxford to help launch the county's Royal British Legion's Poppy Appeal for 2017/2018.

Mr Hicks, a member of the RBL's Benson and Ewelme branch, said he liked to stand outside his local Co-op in Benson to shake a tin for Poppy Appeal donations.

He said: "The Poppy Appeal is an important way of raising money for veterans, servicemen and their families."

The Battle of Britain veteran, whose application to become a pilot was turned down due to his eyesight, welcomed the crews and passengers of the two Puma Mk2 helicopters which flew in from the base near Wallingford and landed on the school field.

He added: "My mates who went on to be pilots got killed in the Battle of Britain.

"I served in the RAF for 28 years - people always give generously, especially when they see my medals."

After the war Mr Hicks moved to RAF Benson when he joined the King's Flight in 1950 and The Queen's Flight in 1959. He later worked for Austin Rover in Cowley.

Warden of St Edward's School Stephen Jones said it was a perfect location for the launch, as some former pupils were RAF legends, including Second World War flying ace Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader.

He added: "We are delighted to host this occasion - our RAF connection has always been an important feature."

Organisers are hoping to raise a record total of £627,000 to beat this year's total of £626,732.27.

RAF Benson's Station Commander, Group Captain Hamish Cormack was greeted by Mr Hicks after he was flown in to the school playing fields with some members of St Edward's Combined Cadet Force.

Group Captain Cormack invited Mr Hicks to return to RAF Benson to see the station museum.

The Station Commander said: "People buying a poppy are honouring those who made the ultimate sacrifice - the appeal supports veterans and serving personnel and their families."

Brian Leach, 49, from Bicester, was medically discharged from the Army in 2010 after being injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2004 when he was serving with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps.

The former Corporal said: "Money from the Poppy Appeal really helped me after I was discharged, at a time when I really needed help."

County chairwoman of the RBL Lynda Atkins, who was in the RAF for eight years in the 1980s when she was in her 20s, said: "Donations to the Poppy Appeal in Oxfordshire have been growing year on year and we are hoping for another record-breaking year."

Mr Hicks sold a poppy to Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire Tim Stevenson to officially launch this year's campaign.

Mr Stevenson said: "People respect the work the Armed Forces do and money donated to the Poppy Appeal is spread around a big canvas."