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Welcome to the Ashford Branch of The Royal British Legion

ASHFORD ROYAL BRITISH LEGION – Branch No: 1934                

BRANCH AGM - CHAIRMAN’S ANNUAL REPORT 2016/17

1.         AGM - 26 OCTOBER 2017.  Where has the time gone – so much has happened since the last AGM on 29 Nov 16 and hopefully you will all see that it has been for the better?  A lot has been done to take the Ashford Branch forward to make it the most modern and most attended Branch in Kent.  There is now a Branch 3-Year Plan ensuring the Branch moves forward in all areas.  Especially important is succession planning – the Branch need younger members to come onto the Committee – don’t be shy when we ask for volunteers later in the evening.  The office has now been revamped with new furniture – it looks better than the County Office!  Days and timings have changed to make life easier for the volunteers who man the office – the new sign is now up, and the office is now open Monday and Thursday – 1000-1200. Please do pop in if you are in the area as it will be nice to meet you and show you what is going on in the RBL today.  Funds have been a bit of a nightmare to manage but I cannot thank Phurba enough as he has been so efficient in the running of the various accounts.  We are nearly there and only after a 3-hour session with Barclays did we make progress and hopefully all the Branch Funds will be in one bank account and the Haig House RBL Branch Fund Initiative – no more audit fees and more interest – good end result.  To aid recruiting and Poppy Appeal Fund Raising, the Branch now have 2 Gucci Gazebos – well I really mean RBL Gazebos with both the Poppy Appeal logo and the Membership logo on them.  The Branch Facebook Account has been completely revamped – it is now a closed group and is only open to Ashford RBL Members and a select few as in the Branch Padre and the Mayor!  The Branch Website is currently undergoing a revamp by the County Webmaster and hopefully will be up and running for Jan 18.  The Mayor has said that he will link it on ABC Website which is great news for us as a Branch as it should see an increase in recruitment for the Branch.  I attended both the County and National Conferences this year and returned very positive about the future of the RBL and the way ahead.  Proof that I went to National is in the Legion Magazine for August – Page 24 – maybe Page 3 next year?  The message from National is a 5-Year Plan has been put together focusing on:  Strengthening the Legion; Championing Remembrance and Education of the Young.  Community Support has greatly increased this last year with Major Roy doing his utmost to get the best possible results for those that need it most and especially our wonderful loyal Nepalese members. The Branch have been out to see Beneficiaries in their homes, hospitals and sadly their funerals.  At the end of May a couple of members went to the ‘Kent Meet the Team Day’ to see exactly what the RBL Welfare Team do for the Kent based  Beneficiaries That’s what we are all about and we will strive to improve our Veterans footfall in the next year. We all need to take our share for Recruitment and if we all bought one person along to one of our Monthly Meetings commencing Jan 18 then we will get bigger and stronger.  Our Standard Bearer quietly goes about his role with no fuss at all and has attended numerous funerals of Beneficiaries this year.  In addition, Richard is parading with the Branch Standard at the RBL Festival of Remembrance on Sat 11 Nov 17 which is a great honour for him and a bigger one for the Branch and the Ashford Community.  An ever bigger honour is that Richard as the Standard Bearer and a Branch Wreath Layer will be going to Ypres next year to follow the Great Pilgrimage to visit the war graves from WW1.  Talking of Heritage, Ivor Groves has very kindly taken on the role of Branch Heritage and Historian Committee Member ensuring that all photographs and news cuttings are recorded and kept as a Branch record.  I know that he will need the advice and memories of the older members to ensure we don’t forget our history. If any members have photos or other memorabilia they wish to share, then please let Ivor know.   I attended the County Parade at Dover in June and it was a grand affair – it would be fabulous if Ashford could host a County Parade in the future – 2018 may be a bridge too far but 2019 is looking favourable.  Youth Affiliations.  The Branch has quite a few Youth Affiliations, but it seems that no contact has been made apart from the normal Remembrance Tide surge – nothing wrong in that at all but we as a Branch owe them more.  Next year I hope to have a Committee Member for each Cadet, School or Sports Team that are affiliated to the Branch.  We need to make a concerted effort to visit on a regular basis and keep them informed of what is going on in the RBL.  Youth is the future strength of the RBL and we must not lose that fact.

2.         The Late Major David Sharp BEM.  Sadly, David was taken from us on Remembrance Sunday last year.  His funeral at Charing was one of the best attended I’ve ever seen with at least 8 Standard Bearers and many RBL Members.  Folks from the 4 corners of the world and lots of friends and fellow RBL members. A special vote of thanks to Mike Wiggins for such a wonderful speech about David that had us all removing the dust from our eyes!

3.         Poppy Appeal – 2016/17. A grand total of £44,798.93 was raised in Ashford over this last 12-month period which is fantastic news and great testament to the hard work that Nikki Cain has put into it – a stalwart for the Branch.  Hopefully we can increase this figure for 2017/18. 

4.         St George’s Day 2017.  A total of £100 was raised for the Poppy Appeal and great thanks again to Nikki Cain for organizing the collections. 

5.         Armed Forces Day 2017. A total of £140 was raised for the Poppy Appeal and £135 raised for Branch Funds and once again, great effort from Nikki Cain in achieving this. 

6.         Kent Challenger Games – 14 Jul 17.  A fantastic day for all young people around the Ashford area and wider parts of Kent.  A great time for all, both able bodied and disabled young people.  A big thanks to the Mayor of Ashford for inviting our RBL Branch to help and assist wherever possible.

7.         Dedication of the Ashford Remembrance Gardens.  This took place this morning and was a very humble affair.  Please do go and see it before Remembrance Sunday.

8.         Remembrance Sunday – 12 Nov 17.  Very much a joint affair between ABC and the RBL although also noting that the RBL remain the Custodians of Remembrance Service itself.  This arrangement will now make it a hopefully very smooth and coordinated Civic Event. 

9.         Centenary of the Battle of Cambrai – Fri 17 Nov 17. This was the very first battle in WW1 where tanks were used.  There is a major Centenary Event taking place in Cambrai with the second biggest taking place in Ashford.  The Ashford WW1 Tank is the only officially recognized War Memorial in the UK and therefore the day will be run by ABC and the RTR Association.  There will be a need for volunteers on the day to help recruit for the RBL and raise monies for the Poppy Appeal. 

10.       Poppy Appeal – 2017/18. Nikki is based in the Gateway to the right – you may be able to see her behind all the Poppy Products!  If you can spare some time even if only an hour then please do pop in and see her.  Monday is a good day as from there on in it is a full on task for her. I do know that she needs volunteers for Thu 2 Nov and Fri 3 Nov at ASDAs.

11.       ENDEX.  That’s it – over and out from me – I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the Branch Officers and Committee Members for being so patient with me and their excellent work in supporting me.

           

 

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