Help us save the Royal British Legion

They paid the ultimate sacrifice - they gave their lives defending Crown and country.

Sunday, 27th September 2015, 2:15 pm
Remembrance Sunday parade in Wakefield 2011

Thousands of men and women who left loved ones at home to serve in the forces never returned home.

And for the hundreds of thousands more who do return home the effects of living with the threat of being killed every day can have devastating consequences as they try to adjust to civilian life.

That is where the committed volunteers of Royal British Legion branches across the country come in.

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Remembrance Sunday parade in Wakefield 2011

Committed volunteers, many who have served in the forces themselves, will be out in supermarket foyers to sell poppies and pin badges to raise funds for the appeal from the end of next month.

But the Wakefield branch, which offers this vital support to former servicemen across the city, is under threat of folding due to a lack of members.

David Bloomfield, chairman of the City of Wakefield branch, said: “We are absolutely desperate for more members and poppy sellers for this year.

“There are only half-a-dozen of us on the committee but we need an awful lot more if we are to continue helping the ex-servicemen.

Sandra Pickin: New veteran's champion, pictured by the war memorial in Wakefield city centre. w303b306

“We’re dwindling in numbers every year and it’s simply just because our members are getting too old. We’ve got a lot of Second World War veterans in our branch and they’re too old to continue.”

Mr Bloomfield, 70, served as a green jacket in the Rifle Brigade of the army for nine years.

He said: “The legion offers invaluable help to people who have given up so much to defend their country.

“They helped me after I had a stroke and I’ve been a member since 1963 but we need some new members to come and get involved and take over from us when we can’t do it anymore.

Remembrance Sunday parade in Wakefield 2011

“The branch is seriously at risk of folding and it is the same across the country. There are a lot of branches where we need some younger members.

“All I would say to anyone thinking of getting involved is please do. Our troops don’t get enough support and the legion helps to fill that gap.

“If there was no legion then who would help all of our city’s former servicemen?”

Mr Bloomfield said last year the Wakefield branch raised £22,000 for the legion through its annual poppy appeal but its members hope to beat that this year.

Wakefield Council leader Peter Box has also backed the campaign to save the city’s branch from folding.

Coun Box said: “The Royal British Legion plays a key role in this district and keeps us all mindful of the sacrifices made by men and women who have served - and are indeed still serving – in the armed forces.

“I am always proud to take part in the civic remembrance service each year in the Cathedral and will be there again on November 6. I hope that people will rally to keep the Wakefield branch of the RBL active and hope that they can attract new members to support their activities and to carry on the important work of reminding us all how much we owe to servicemen and women, both past and present.”

The branch meet the first Tuesday of every month at the TA Centre, George Street from 7pm.

For more information or if you would like to join the branch call Mr Bloomfield on 01924 291687.

This year’s festival of remembrance will take place at Wakefield Cathedral on Sunday, November 8 from 10.30am.