poppy field




May 2012


"When you go home tomorrow, don't expect anyone to know what you've been
 through. Even if they did know, most people probably wouldn't care anyway."
Lt Col Matthew Maer
1st Bn. Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment.
(Afghanistan 2003)

Branch Matters.

Since the last issue of the Newsletter, membership of the Branch has fallen to the current total of 195: this drop was largely the result of a number of members not renewing their membership for the current year, together with the sad passing of Mrs Cecilia Leighton, RogerBelson, HenryWitney and Terry Tappin, may they Rest in Peace. Only two new members joined during this period, they are Mr D Plumridge, and Dr J Galley. The Branch committee sends sincere condolences to the bereaved, and extends a warm welcome to the new members. We also "lost" the youngest member of our committee; Alex Hicks, serving with the RAF at Benson was posted away when the RAF decided he would be more useful somewhere else!
It must be said that our recent efforts at recruitment have not met with much success, and it is now firmly felt that personal contact is the most likely method to bring in new members: Each one of us should endeavour to become a local recruiting agent and try to recruit at least one new member whether they be friend, family or total stranger, and don't forget to emphasise that a Service connection is not a prerequisite to becoming a Legion member.

Attendance at monthly meetings has also seen a significant drop in numbers, the average for the last 6 months being only 19, with the worst in March only 12. This in spite of guest speakers giving talks on a wide range of subjects both military and non-military. We are fortunate in that the majority of our speakers give their time voluntarily, and it would be re-warding to see a larger audience for their generosity.

On a more optimistic note our Poppy Appeal was a huge success last autumn when the sum raised was a record £8092.95which is £734 more than the previous year. The Appeal was launched at The Cross by Sqn Ldr Aspinall, a helicopter pilot from RAF Benson and thanks go to him and to our PAO, Penny Boas for all her hard work organising the collections, and to all the sellers and others who helped in any way. We were able to add another£3000 from our Branch funds making our final contribution£11,092.95.The County collection was over £479,000,and the National total at the time of writing is approaching£40m,

 Garden Fete. We will not be holding a Fete on August Bank Holiday this year. This decision by the committee has not been taken lightly, and in fact several lengthy discussions of the pros and cons took place before we made our decision. The reasons are many and varied but the following relevant facts were taken into account before a vote was taken

1. For reasons beyond our control it would have been necessary to change either the date of the event, or the venue, or both. None of these options was deemed acceptable

2. We know that a significant number of our team of younger helpers will not be available this year, and that, coupled with the advancing years and lack of mobility of some of the old brigade, would throw a very heavy burden on the few. This situation is likely to remain in place until we are able to recruit more younger volunteers.

3. Other events taking place  this year, i.e., the Jubilee celebrations and the Olympics and the Church Fete will be attracting people's time and money.

Having briefly explained the reasons behind our decision we would like to apologise to all  our supporters for any disappointment this may cause. You will however still be able to show your support later in the year when we plan to hold a Bumper Xmas Raffle....more details of this later.

Other News

Once again the Branch was awarded The Norris Trophy which was presented to the Chairman at the County Conference in January. This cup is awarded annually for Branch Efficiency and entries are judged by the County Conference Committee. Watlington has won it 13 times.

There will be vacancies for the posts of Branch Secretary and Branch Treasurer at the AGM in November. The current holders of both these offices have confirmed that they will definitely  be retiring from post, and since the AGM is only a few months  away now would be a good time for prospective candidates to come forward and start getting involved. Neither task could be called onerous but there are certain procedures to be learned and followed. Any interested members should contact either GeorgePreston on 01844-214287, or Derek Elliott 01491-612288.

Many thanks to Gwen Bishop who kindly decorated a Xmas tree in our name for the Festival in St Leonard's Church last year: There were many favourable comments about Jack & The Beanstalk. We are pleased to announce that Gwen has volunteered to decorate our tree for this year's festival and we look forward to another eye-catching result.

A report on the National Conference, and lots of other information about the Legion, is available for all to see on the Legion's web site: www.britishlegion.org.uk.


Diary Dates

June 11th.LtCol David Steele; "Combat Stress".

July9th. Hugh Hinde; "Firearms of the 17th to19th.Century".

August 13th. Andy  Russell, "Medal Collecting as a Hobby"

Sept 10th.Tba.

Oct 8th.Tba.

Nov 12th.Branch AGM.

Dec 1st. Xmas Social.