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Royal British Legion Sandwich branch re-established after Facebook campaign set up by Simon Leith

By Eleanor Perkins

The Royal British Legion Sandwich branch has been re-established thanks to the perseverance of a long-standing supporter.

Former councillor Simon Leith did not give up hope last year when falling membership led to the Sandwich and District branch becoming a sub branch of the village of Staple.

The RBL member of 26 years set up a Facebook page to advertise the former branch and on September 21, after months of campaigning, it was re-granted its full branch status.

Secretary of the Royal British Legion Sandwich and District branch Simon Leith
Secretary of the Royal British Legion Sandwich and District branch Simon Leith

Mr Leith said: “It wasn’t just me, I started the page in late February of this year, and Cllr Dan Friend soon offered his services as treasurer, which along with his IT skills proved invaluable.

“He took control of the social media campaign in early March, expanding our reach, enabling us to communicate our message to a wider audience.

“We have worked together to ensure The Royal British Legion in Sandwich is accessible to all generations within our community.”

The members located a new meeting place, Sandwich Bowls and Social Club, and forged a new committee with Albert Tweddle named chairman, Dan Friend as treasurer and Simon Leith as secretary.

Having submitted an application to reform, members moved on as an active group holding their first meeting in June. They also attended remembrance services and events in the town.

Cllr Dan Friend is the new treasurer
Cllr Dan Friend is the new treasurer

Mr Leith said: “The Royal British Legion does amazing work within our communities in providing care and support.

"The Poppy Appeal is one of the many ways the Legion raises funds.

“What we have to consider is if a branch like Sandwich closes, our ex-service community can lose the familiar support, the security provided to the service personnel – knowing a charity who understands their needs is there.”

“The support is not just there when someone is ill or lonely, it’s about an impromptu visit for a cup of tea, the offer of a lift somewhere, a branch meeting to attend, recounting experiences as only ex-service personnel can, being a friend or just being there.

“This was my motivation for campaigning to re-establish the Sandwich and District Branch. I am elated that, with lots of local support we have succeeded and now see hope for the future.”

Mr Leith thanked the Staple branch for being a wonderful partner and he added: “We are always looking for new members. There are no preconditions other than a desire to support ex-service personnel, especially within our community.”

The branch’s AGM will be on Friday, November 4, starting at 7.30pm at the Sandwich Bowls and Social Club.

If people are interested in joining visit britishlegion.org.uk/members/become-a-member/

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