On Wednesday, February 20, our President Adrienne welcomed members and guest speaker Shirley Collie.
Shirley is very much a local resident having lived in Wargrave for 40 years. When she retired, she applied to become a case worker for the British Legion. This entailed meeting people connected with National Service (which ended in 1963) and those who have completed regular military service. Shirley has a strong connection to the armed forces as one of her own sons is in the Navy; Shirley also used to work with the MoD.
The British Legion was formed on 15 May 1921, by ex-Servicemen wishing to support fellow veterans following the First World War. It provides financial, social and emotional support to members and veterans of the British Armed Forces and their families.
There are 2,500 branches in the UK and 80 overseas.
Currently the Legion spends over
£1.6 million per week on welfare; this is where Shirley gets involved as she visits people who have asked for help. It is a long process as many aspects have to be covered. Shirley took 12 cases last year, which were often complex and difficult.
In Berkshire alone there were 1,034 claimants in 2018 who needed financial help; the average age was between 40 and 50.
The circumstances range from emergency grants, housing and benefit support and advice, help with household goods to the provision of mobility aids.
Apart from helping the veterans, the Legion also takes on responsibility for the Festival of Remembrance in November, and the ceremony at the Cenotaph in Whitehall.
The 2018 Poppy Appeal was their biggest logistic operation in their history. They set a target to collect
£50 million. For every £1 raised, 77p is spent on charitable activities.
Remembrance poppies are made in Richmond. The factory was founded in 1922 and offered employment to wounded soldiers returning from the First World War. Each poppy is hand-made.
This symbol was adopted thanks to Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae who, following the death of a close friend, was inspired to write that poem in 1915.
He took inspiration from the sight of poppies rising from the devastation of the battle fields.
“In Flanders fields the poppies blow. Between the crosses, row on row.”
Shirley shared some stories of the work she does for veterans, which made us realise the importance of supporting such a wonderful charity.
Many thanks to Nana Davis and Anne Whittaker, who served a delicious tea, including sandwiches and cakes.
Our next meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 20, at Crazies Hill Village Hall at 2.30pm.
It is an important date as it is our AGM, when a new Committee will be elected. It will be followed by a quiz. Please remember to bring books, as we will be manning a book stall at the Wargrave Festival in June.
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