The Henley & Peppard Branch of the Royal British Legion joined branches nationwide on Saturday to mark the 100th anniversary of the charity which was formed in the aftermath of the First World War on the same day 100 years ago.
On 15 May 1921, a wet and dreary day, a small number of ex-Servicemen walked to the Cenotaph war memorial in London’s Whitehall. As Big Ben struck nine, four men representing societies that for three years had been rivals laid a wreath at the base of the memorial. On Saturday two wreaths were laid on the Town Hall steps by Chair of the Henley & Peppard Branch, Anne Evans and Henley Mayor, Councillor Ken Arlett at 9am.
Prince Charles released a video on Saturday saying he had “utmost admiration” for the RBL’s ability to rally support for the Armed Forces and help grieving families. “There are few organisations which hold a place at the heart of society in the way the RBL does. “For 100 years, the RBL has been a constant, through the annual Poppy Appeal, leading the nation in remembrance, and providing a life-long commitment to every veteran and their families.”
Later on Saturday, a Holy Eucharist service took place at St Mary’s Church led by Father Jeremy Tayler, with a procession of standard bearers – John Green carrying the Henley Branch standard, Lt Col Nicholas Launders the Peppard standard, Colour Serjeant Major Tallulah Scott the Henley Army Cadets standard and James Nelson The Dunkirk Veterans standard.
Deputy Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, Lady Cynthia Hall gave a welcome address. She said, “There is a level of commitment to service this country that should and does make us all proud. And so should the scale of the work done by the Royal British Legion for our armed forces community and the wider community through a whole range of partnerships. With 235,000 members nationwide, the RBL is one of the UK’s biggest organisations. It’s not just about the two world wars and those who fought in the last century but also about those who have fought in conflicts since 1945 and those who are still fighting for the freedom that we enjoy today. I was struck by all new developments on the RBL website through which the Legion has responded to different needs to their membership. With expert advice individuals are helped through recovery and rehabilitation, transitioning back to service or to civilian life and getting continuing support. The Henley Branch continues to offer support and members are able to socialise with events which are so important to us all. It’s an enormous privilege to join you today for this important commemoration of the Legion’s work. The Legion is firmly focussed on its future. The Lieutenancy and the community in Henley will I know continue to stand with you.”
Anne Evans then gave a special announcement. She said, “The Royal British Legion this centenary year, and for this year only has recognised certain individuals who have gone above and beyond their support for the RBL and for all that it stands for. We at the Branch are pleased to tell you that John Green our Branch President has received one such special centenary award in recognition of his passion for the RBL which shines through everything he does and says as goes about his daily life. We are proud of you John and thank you for all the years of dedication that you have given us and the wider community of Henley and beyond.”
After the service John spoke about receiving 1 of a 100 centenary awards for which he received a special certificate and badge (above). He said, “I don’t see myself as one of the specially select few, far from it. It represents all those others who do the work. I would like to think that my name came out of the hat. The work of the Legion is more important now than it ever has been and unfortunately it will need to go on for many more years to come. That is my drive to continue to do what I do. There are so many young people suffering. Modern technology can help those who have lost limbs, psychologically they can be helped, but it all costs money to keep at it. We like to forget about these things but we should never forget. We will remember them.”
The event was attended by Henley Mayor and Deputy Mayor, Councillors Ken Arlett and David Eggleton, members of Henley & Peppard RBL Branch including Richard Pinches pictured with the Mayor and Deputy Mayor above wearing his father’s (Peter Pinches) medals who fought in the Royal Army Service Corp and would have been 100 also this year.