The Royal British Legion – in France
About forty Members of The Brittany Branch of the RBL made my friend Janet and I very welcome at one of their monthly Branch meetings near Josselin, a little medieval town about equidistant from Lorient and Rennes, being about forty miles from either, as the crow flies.
The meetings are always held at Au Relais de L’Oust, a very modern hotel hard by ecluse (lock) 38 “Le Rouvray” just to the west of the town on the Nantes-Brest canal. It was September 2016 and Janet and I were on a road trip through Normandy and Brittany and made a slight “dog-leg” of our route to be in the vicinity on the day. Using the Web, we had become aware of the Brittany Branch and their schedule and it seemed like a golden opportunity to see how others “do it”.
The event was very refreshing, as here in Brittany, the meetings were unlike ours at home in Byfield; Byfield is at the south-western tip of Northants in the UK. The only real similarity between us was that they began with the “Ode of Remembrance” and signing the register; from then on things were different. The meeting included Members both male and female from all over Brittany, together with wives, partners, husbands, friends and visitors and was a very social occasion. The bar was “open” and food was available during the proceedings, indeed it was really an opportunity for the assembled company to take wine together, have some lunch and a good chinwag.
Periodically silence was called for and announcements made about future fund raising events and other matters relevant, such as how successful previous occasions had been. Raffle tickets were sold and goodies given out to the winners. There was a quiz too, with both grand and booby prizes being awarded respectively to the successful, and teams that were less so. There was a craft table, with items either made by or brought in by attendees for sale, and a book exchange, with a small donation being required for participants; all monies so gathered were added to Branch funds. The whole proceedings took a couple of hours and were quite informal.
Speaking of formalities, discussing those afterwards and comparing “ways of doing things” it was good to see that Branch officers included ladies as well as gents and that there was a mix of ex and non service personnel. The Branch does have meetings where Minutes are kept and formal procedures followed but they occur only once every three months and are conducted by the Committee after the main meeting. Members can stay-on to attend those meetings if they wish but are not required to do so. Food for thought I think…
For anyone in the area middle day on the first Tuesday of any month, make sure you drop-in. If you are nearby Plumèliau on Sunday 2nd October 2016, they are having a “Troc & Puces” on the Rue de la Paix there all that day AND there will be live music played and sung by the son of a sixties rock celebrity. For details visit: http://branches.britishlegion.org.uk/branches/brittany
RBL Brittany's craft table
RBL Brittany's book exchange