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History

Welcome to the Woodhall Spa & District Branch of The Royal British Legion

A Brief History of the Branch was written By Ann Pickup and was produced for the Branch as part of the  90th Anniversery of the formation of The Royal British Legion.
 

1929 saw the formation of the Branch. The founding Committee included Major S C Wright, Lieut Col Eddowes and the Rev Jamieson. The Branch district consisted of Woodhall Spa, Kirkby on Bain, Martin Dales, Timberland, Horsington, Bucknall, Stixwould and Roughton. Major S C Wright was the first Chairman, Vice Chairman was Lieut Col Eddowes and Secretary Mr. A W Daft.

1930's Membership increased to 153 by 1931. Whist Drives, Dances and various activities were held to raise funds.

1933 The Branch won the President's Cup for the most

efficient Branch in Lincolnshire and received a Certificate of Merit.

1937 Ex-Servicemen were honoured at the Branch's Annual Drumhead Service and Parade held in the grounds of the Petwood Hotel by the presence of Her Highness Princess Marie Louise. The Branch was commended as "a happy ship, one of the strongest and well run in the County". Children of branch members and War Widows were given a Christmas treat of seeing a talkie film at the Kinema.

With the worsening situation in Europe many members joined the ARP and the Territorial Army. Following 'the outbreak of war, the Branch continued its work although transport difficulties restricted many activities.

1940's Over 1,000 people attended a concert held by the Branch in the grounds of the Petwood in 1940. Membership remained stable at approx. 250 during the remainder of the war.

1944 £800 was raised in a matter of five weeks for a "Welcome Home Fund" for ex-service personnel.

1946 Membership leapt to 356 with many ex-service personnel joining the Branch. Conningsby members left to form their own Branch. 

The post-war years were not kind to the Royal British Legion nationwide and membership dwindled, however, membership of Woodhall Spa's branch remained at more than 150.

1950's These were lean years for attendance due in the main to the growth of TV and other forms of entertainment. An Annual Dinner continued to be held as did the Childrens' Christmas Treat. Whist Drives and Dances were popular and raised funds for the Branch.

The Remembrance Sunday Services and Parades were held in an afternoon.

1958 ended the dances organised by the Branch due to the high cost of hiring a band and Coronation Hall.

1959 saw the first mixed Annual Dinner-members were informed they could take a lady friend or a wife!

The Welfare Committee appears to have been very busy in the 50's with 15 members on the Committee. Ex-Service Personnel resident at the Eagle Lodge Nursing Home were visited once a month and the routine welfare work continued. Gifts to members in hospital included cigarettes (how times have changed!).

1960's Flood relief money was paid to Kirkby-on-Bain members. The formation of a Womens' Section was discussed several times in the early 60's. The venue for meetings varied from The Young Mens Club, The Womens' Conservative Club and The Spa Hotel (the original). Children of all ex-Service men were taken to the coast for a day in 1960. The custom of holding an Annual Dinner was abandoned due to a decrease in attendances.

Branch membership dropped in the late 60's although nationally RBL membership increased by 25,000 in 1968.

 

1970's The first ladies, Mrs. D Patchett and Mrs S Mitchell were welcomed onto the Committee.

1973 brought the resignation of long standing Committee Member Mr. Fuller who had served on the Committee since 1929. The Branch was represented at the Remembrance Service at the Albert Hall, the Standard Bearer being Mr. R Lilley.

Whist Drives, Jumble Sales, etc continued to be held to raise funds. A Garden Fete was held in Group Capt. Pritchard's grounds.

1977 due to age and illness numbers decreased.

County held a Garden Fete at the Petwood Hotel helped by the

Branch manning stalls etc.

1980's Meetings were held at the Garden Centre (Came Court now stands on the site).

1981 was the Branch's first entry in the County Bowls Tournament where 4th place was gained in both the individual and pairs events.

1982 Good Wishes were sent by the Branch to Service

personnel in the Task Force.

A number of social evenings were held, as were the customary

Christmas and Easter Fayres and Christmas Raffle.

Members went on a number of outings.

A Dinner organised to mark the Branch's 55th Anniversary was

cancelled due to the closure of the Petwood Hotel.

1984 The Branch won the Burland Rose Bowl for the runner-up in the small branches efficiency competition. Representatives of the Branch attended Conferences and Re-Dedication Services at other Branches,

1987 was the first year that 617 Squadron joined in the Remembrance Parade which was led by the City of Lincoln Drum and Bugle Band. A meal was provided by Dr. Armour.

 

The Branch nearly closed down in the early 80's due to lack of support, but by 1985 the Chairman Mr. Ken Ashworth welcomed new members and stated that the Branch's recovery was remarkable, credit being due to the Ladies who had instituted new life into the Branch.

1990's 1991 Mr. Richard Bellwood had been awarded The Malta George Cross Fiftieth Anniversary medal which was presented at the Branch meeting by Branch President Dr Armour and Chairman Mr. Ashworth.

1992 An Entertainment Committee was formed headed by Mr. Jack Patterson. Donations were made to RBL Byng House and Halsey House. A review of the Welfare Committee and the making of welfare grants was held. The Branch Standard was blessed and dedicated by the Vicar and displayed in St. Peter's Church. A Remembrance Day display was placed in the Library window for the first time. Dr and Mrs. Armour laid on lunch after the Remembrance Parade. Customary gifts at Christmas to Pensioners and Widows were in future not to be taken from any RBL fund but the monies to be raised by fund raising. 11 members were elected to the Welfare Committee and 6 to the General Committee.

1993 Chairman Mr. K Ashworth stepped down after 21 years and Mr. Malcolm Gregory was elected in his place. The sending out of newsletters to members was introduced. Speakers at meetings were also introduced, the first one being a talk by member Mr. Theo Palmer.

1994 The 50th Anniversary of D-Day was marked by the Branch with a Church Service and Parade followed by a buffet lunch hosted by Dr. and Mrs. Armour.

1995 A Church Service at St. Peter's was held on VE Day Anniversary. VJ Day Anniversary was marked by an Open Air Service with a band in Jubilee Park. The Branch's oldest member Fred Ingall celebrated his 100th birthday.

 

Members had a disappointing day out to the RBL National Day at Woburn Abbey when their coach driver lost his way! They arrived half an hour before the end of activities!

1996 Talks on the meaning of Remembrance Day were given by a Branch Member to 4 local primary schools. The venue for meetings changed to the Eagle Lodge Hotel and a Fundraising Committee was formed.

1997 The list for Christmas cash gifts was revised in accordance with the RBL Management Book. A small fee per member was introduced at meetings to be used as a Social Fund, the proceeds of the evening raffles also going into this fund.
Phil Avery was elected Chairman.

1999 The Branch moved its meeting place to the Conservative Club, A cheque for £1000 was presented to RBL Halsey House. President Dr. Armour resigned after 20 years service to the Branch. Fund raising in the 90's included Jumble Sales, Easter and Christmas Fayres etc.

2000's The Branch kicked off the new Millenium by winning two trophies -The Sheppard and Cleethorpes Cups which were presented at the RBL County Conference. These were awarded in recognition of the Branch's excellent recruiting record and high achievements over the previous year. Branch Members visited Halsey House and presented the Home with a £1170 cheque for equipment. Entertainment evenings were held in addition to the usual monthly meetings with various speakers.

2004 Member Bridget Wilcox was elected to Lincolnshire County RBL Committee and appointed County Recruitment Officer. The Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt. Rev. John Saxbee preacLed the sermon on Remembrance Sunday. The 75th Anniversary of the formation of the Branch was celebrated with an evening of entertainment at the Conservative Club at which a commemorative pennant for the Branch Standard was presented.

2005 The Sheppard Trophy for 2004/2005 was once again won by the Branch.

2008-2009 A staggering £7,798.09 was raised for the Poppy Appeal. A 1940's themed D-Day Anniversary Celebration was held at The Railway Hotel attended by 60 members with 3 D-Day Veterans; Ron Saunders, Jack Riley and Eddie Cobbald also in attendance.

2010 A Presentation of Awards evening was held in recognition of service to the Poppy Appeal. A Dedication Service for the new Standard was held at St. Peter's Church . John Egleton was elected Chairman.

The Branch continues to meet on the second Tuesday, at which Speakers are invited or a Social Evening held. The annual Summer Fete, Harvest Supper, Post Remembrance Sunday Parade Lunch and Christmas Party remain popular events. Welfare work continues as does fundraising.
* The Web Manager would like to thank Ann for allowing her work to be published on this website
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