THE Henley branch of the Royal British Legion has elected a new president and chairman.
Brigadier Malcolm Page, who was chairman for 14 years, has taken over as president from former town councillor Nic Rutherford, who died last month.
The 86-year-old, of Ancastle Green, Henley, served in the army from 1944 to 1978, first as a Gordon Highlander and later in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps.
He served in the Indian army and the Somaliland Scouts before returning to the British army. In the years leading up to his retirement, he was garrison commander at Bicester.
Brig Page’s former role will be filled by legion member John Green, who was previously the organisation’s county treasurer for seven years.
Mr Green, 77, holds the Royal British Legion gold badge for his fund-raising activities, which include organising sponsored walks in Bhutan and the Pyrenees.
He lives in Maidensgrove with his wife Elizabeth and is a former member of the Sherwood Foresters regiment.
The two were voted in at the branch’s annual meeting, which was held at Leander Club in Henley on Monday.
Mr Green told members that Brig Page would be a hard act to follow.
“He was the mainstay of the branch and he held it together,” he said.
“I’ve got a hell of a job to do but I know you will show me the same support you have shown Malcolm over the years. I thank you very much for your confidence and hope I will not let you down.”
Mr Green appealed for volunteers to support the branch, which has 80 members and a further 28 in its Peppard sub-branch. He said: “The fact is, unless we can find a new treasurer and secretary very soon, the branch could fold and that would be dreadful. Without those positions, I’m afraid the future looks pretty bleak.
“Our real challenge is to retain members and recruit young people who believe in the aims of the Legion.”
Brig Page said: “The Legion is spending £1.7 million a week. Sadly, membership is dropping through attrition at a time when the need for our services is increasing.”
The branch is now preparing for the town’s annual Remembrance Sunday service, which is held in Market Place.
Anyone interested in either of the vacant posts should call Heather Green on (01491) 575741.