A chance chat while picking up a neighbour’s child from school led to Sylvie Hood discovering Lyon Liberation Branch of the Royal British Legion, where she is now the welfare officer.
“We had just moved here 10 years ago and a man overheard me, realised I was British and asked if I would do a translation for him. He was from the Anciens Combattants’ association. I discovered honouring the dead from the Second World War is still taken very seriously.
“Since then my husband, Mike and I have been to many of the ceremonies and have learnt an awful lot about local history and got to know local people. Often Mike is asked to carry the British flag and everyone comes up and shakes his hand, even François Hollande when he was president.”
Mrs Hood wants more people to know the Legion is present in an area from Lyon into Bourgogne and Franche-Comté and it supports any present and former members of the Armed Forces and their dependants.
Lyon branch is also looking for new members as numbers are falling and they wish to continue welfare work as well as taking part in the many commemorations in an area which saw a great deal of action and where the Resistance was strong.
“I would like to reach out to people who may not know we exist and who may need our help. It may be an ex-serviceman or woman has lost their partner and is lonely and we can call in for a chat or talk on the phone. If someone is in financial difficulties, there are funds available and I can help with the application paperwork.”
“Most members are in their late 70s now and we need fresher blood.”
Besides the welfare work, there are also fund-raising events such as the Poppy Appeal. Memorial events are a way to get involved in the community. “We as British residents are very welcome; they appreciate the fact that we participate.”
Email the branch at LyonLiberation.Secretary@RBL.Community