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National Award for Orihuela Costa

Welcome to the Orihuela Costa and District Branch of The Royal British Legion

July 2013

The McCrae Shield, awarded to the Overseas branch of the Royal British Legion with the most improved membership over the previous three years, was presented to the Orihuela Costa and District Branch last Thursday evening by the Chairman of Spain District North, Chris Wyatt.

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Peggy Wyatt, the District Public Relations Officer, received the shield on behalf of the branch at the National Conference held in Llandudno. It was presented to her by the National President of The Royal British Legion, Vice Admiral Peter Wilkinson CB CVO.

Very much a worldwide award the Chonburi Thailand Branch finished as runners up. The Branch was also presented with a Certificate marking the award, which it keeps, as well as a 'Scroll of Award' which it can now display on the upper panel of its RBL Standard.

Branch Chairman, Keith Carter, paid tribute to his local committee, which, he said, continues to take every opportunity to be represented at local galas, shows, exhibitions and other events where the good work of the RBL can be shown off. It is at these events where most of the recruitment takes place, the fruits of which have now been rewarded by the honour of the McCrae Shield.

The McCrae Shield is awarded in memory of Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae who wrote the poem ‘In Flanders' Fields’ during a lull in the 2nd Battle of Ypres in 1915.

Serving as a Medical Officer with the first Canadian Army contingent, he was inspired to write the poem in pencil on a page torn from his despatch book, after presiding over the funeral of friend and fellow soldier Alexis Helmer, who died in the battle.

According to legend, fellow soldiers retrieved the poem after McCrae, initially unsatisfied with his work, discarded it. After being submitted anonymously the poem was first published on December 8 of that year in the London-based magazine Punch under the title "In Flanders' Fields." Colonel McCrae died in May 1918. 

He was interred in a beautiful cemetery on rising ground above Wimereux, from where, on sunny days, the cliffs of Dover are easily visible. Spain North was also honoured at the National Conference with the award of the Maurice Cup, awarded to the county/district which has shown the most progress and greatest efficiency during the past year.

Runner-up was Berkshire & Vale of White Horse. In existence for a little over five years, in May 2013, the branch collections made during the Poppy Appeals, surpassed the 100,000 euro mark.

An absolutely amazing sum which is yet another tribute to the dedication of the Branch Membership and the work that they do. Although the 2013 appeal has hardly got out of first gear the branch have already raised in excess of 5,000 euro during the current campaign.

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