A POPPY Appeal organiser in Malmesbury nearly destroyed what he thought was a fake silver 2p coin when he was counting up the proceeds last year – but now he has been stunned to find it is actually worth tens of thousands of times its face value.

Members of the Malmesbury branch of the Royal British Legion were puzzled when they found the silver 2p among their collection, and stunned to find out it was genuine and worth a mint.

The Malmesbury branch will now receive £1,350 for their find, adding to their 2016 total of more than £11,000.

Derek Tilney, 83, chairman of the Malmesbury branch of the Royal British Legion, said: "Back in November we were counting the poppy money, which is a job we share among the members as there is quite a lot, and one of them spotted the odd coin. The gentleman who found it originally thought it might be fake and took it to Lloyds Bank for them to destroy it.

"They gave him some advice and we looked it up and had it sent to the Royal Mint, as it is possible to fake these things. The bottom line is, we got it authenticated after five months and it was a genuine coin."

The Royal Mint explained that the silver coin was caused by an error in production when a nickel-plated steel blank, normally used for 10p coins, was struck between 2p dies.

The branch did some research and discovered that one was sold in 2014 for £1,357 at a Sherbourne auctioneers, but prices had since declined.

Mr Tilney said: "The British Legion headquarters got very interested. They have a corporate partner who sells old medals and coins and they have said they will take it off our hands for a handsome price.

"I have not laughed so much in a long time. It has been nothing but a good laugh and when I think of the person that dropped it in one of our boxes it makes me laugh. It has been a happy little story."