Tuesday, 22 January 2019

‘Legion needs younger people’

‘Legion needs younger people’

THE Henley and Peppard branch of the Royal British Legion has a new president.

Lieutenant Colonel Peter Blaker, from Rotherfield Greys, takes over from Brigadier Malcolm Page who has become branch patron.

Helen Walsh is the new branch secretary and Major Carlo Sisi has been brought on to the branch committee.

The changes were announced at the branch’s joint annual meeting and Christmas lunch held at the Christ Church Centre in Reading Road, Henley. Lt Col Blaker said following Brig Page would be a difficult task.

He said: “He has put so much energy, zeal, competence and imagination into the appointment.

“As a result he and our excellent chairman, John Green, have seen the branch develop into a thriving and well-supported part of the Royal British Legion. I pay tribute to them both and thank them warmly.

“But in me we have an octogenarian succeeding a nonagenarian and that will not do — at least not for long. With the development and increasing sophistication of electronics, the nature of warfare is changing in a way which is both frightening and fascinating.

“This development, however, will not remove the need for soldiers, sailors and airmen in actual battle in some form or other — the never-changing need for boots on the ground. That is an occupation for young men and young women.

“Thus the need for the Legion to support those former servicemen and servicewomen who have fallen on hard times and their dependents is not going to go away.

“This means that a younger generation has got to lead the Legion at a period when, for good reasons as well as bad, it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract people to take on unpaid voluntary jobs.

“Malcolm Page and John Green and others have done so much to encourage the young to join in the Legion's activities. Now we need to find younger people to run the branch.

“It will be my job to support the chairman and the committee in seeing that this is done.”

Forty-five members attended and had a meal made by chef Doug Richards. The menu comprised vegetable soup followed by a main course of turkey with all the trimmings and a choice of flaming Christmas pudding or sherry trifle and mince pies for dessert.

Guests spoke about why they had joined the Legion.

Geoff Luckett, of Lime Court in Henley, said: “My father was a serviceman and fought. I think our former servicemen deserve support and I am happy to give it.”

Mike Phelan, of Deanfield Road, Henley, said: “My stepson was in the army and served in Iraq and Afghanistan and I feel that if anything had happened to him, support would have been very necessary and I am happy to provide it to other people.”

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