Call for new Royal British Legion members
THE familiar sight of Royal British Legion members selling poppies ahead of Remembrance Sunday is something we have become accustomed to each November, but this year, legion branches across the district face a bleak future as membership numbers steadily f
THE familiar sight of Royal British Legion members selling poppies ahead of Remembrance Sunday is something we have become accustomed to each November, but this year, legion branches across the district face a bleak future as membership numbers steadily fall away, and the organisation as a whole struggles to recruit new members.
Chairman of the Ely branch Raymond Hale said that illness and death has cut back many of the district's older members, and that his branch may be closed within a year unless new members join.
"If branches drop below 20 members, they are often closed," he said.
He said membership in Stretham is perilously close to 20, and that other groups across East Cambridgeshire also struggle with recruitment.
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"We are desperately looking for a treasurer because our treasurer sadly died earlier this year and we've been unable to replace him at the moment," Mr Hale said.
"It's a voluntary job, there's no payment but we need somebody who's competent with figures and handling money."
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Mr Hale said the branch is looking for new members of every age, but that he hopes to encourage younger members to come forward.
"We are always looking for fresh people and younger ones - I'm one of the youngest and I'll be 68 this year," he said.
He cited the example of Lucy Ravenhill, the youngest member of the branch, who is responsible for the Poppy Appeal in Ely each year.
"We were overwhelmed by Lucy's efforts last year and we were £2,000 up on the previous year," he said.
The Royal British Legion is the UK's leading charity providing financial, social and emotional support to people who have served and are currently serving in the armed forces, and their dependants.
The charity's welfare provision is a lifeline to many people across the district, and Mr Hale said that he is happy to speak to anyone interested in helping out.
"All you need to do is to give us a ring," Mr Hale said.
INFO: If you are interested in the treasurer's position, or joining the Ely branch, contact Mr Hale on 01353 665826, or branch secretary Sheila Perkins on 01353 664118. A membership form is also available at The Royal British Legion's website at www.britishlegion.org.uk
The Royal British Legion
# The legion was founded in 1921. At the moment, some 10.5 million people in the UK are eligible to ask for its help.
# It is one of the UK's largest membership organisations, with over 450,000 members (including the Women's Section). Anyone can be a member, ex-Service or not.
# There has only been one year, 1968, since the Second World War when a British Service person hasn't been killed on active service.
# 36 million poppies were distributed last year.