It was a momentous occasion for the Henley & Peppard branch of the Royal British Legion as they celebrated their 90th anniversary this week. On Monday (17 June), 55 branch members and their friends boarded The Waterman, a Hobbs’ passenger boat, for a four hour cruise along the Thames complete with a buffet lunch and cake. The milestone event was a chance to celebrate the RBL’s achievements in fundraising, welfare and social activities over the past nine decades.
Once the boat was underway, the commemorative event began with a speech from Lieutenant General Sir Michael Willcocks KCB CVO, a retired officer of the Royal Artillery officer of the British Army and former Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod for the House of Lords. RBL Henley Chairman, John Green, described his talk as a “lighthearted and witty account of his military career and service as Black Rod to the House of Lords. His talk set the tone for the trip which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.” Guests could then enjoy scenic river views whilst tucking into a sumptuous buffet meal, provided by Lynn Miller and her catering team from Chocolate Strawberry. This was followed by a special birthday cake, baked by Lawlors of Henley, which was decorated with an RBL badge and the words ‘1929 – 2019’. Chairman John Green ceremonially cut the cake with a huge sword acquired in Saudi Arabia many years ago.
Reflecting on the afternoon, John said, “The crew of the Waterman were most friendly and were especially appreciated for the way they assisted some of our less agile members to board the vessel. The branch committee have received many messages of thanks and appreciation for such an enjoyable outing and to cap it all the sun shone brightly all afternoon!”
The Henley & Peppard branch is part of the national Royal British Legion, the country’s largest Armed Forces charity established in 1921. Founded soon after in 1929, RBL Henley & Peppard has been a source of constant and invaluable support for the local Armed Forces community. Their most widely recognised project is the Poppy Appeal, which has raised over £28,000 since October last year. On top of this, members of the branch frequently donate their time to appeals of their own making: in 2017, David Lees, John Green and Stan Ainsley raised over £1,500 for the RBL by taking part in the Nijmegen march, a 160 km walk over four days.
The RBL Henley & Peppard community meet on the 3rd Monday of each month at the Christ Church Centre for lunch and a talk. They welcome men and women of all ages, whether they have served in the Armed Forces or not; if you are interested in becoming a member, visit their website for more information.