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British Legion in France widens remit as Poppy Appeal picks up pace

The support the charity gives is constantly evolving, says a branch chairman, and it helps all in need including those without a military background

Duncan Andrews, chair of RBL’s Bordeaux & South-West France branch, says the group has seen a change of direction recently Pic: RBL

The Royal British Legion’s Bordeaux & South-West France branch says it is there for anyone who needs help – including those without a military background.

The organisation collects money each year for its Poppy Appeal ahead of Remembrance Day commemorations in November.

Branch chairman Duncan Andrews says the collection is vital because veterans and their families still need help.

“The support we give to members of the British military, their families and to veterans is constantly evolving due to the development of modern warfare,” he told The Connexion

He also spoke of the need to keep caring for people as they age.

‘Anybody who wants to can join’

The Royal British Legion is the UK’s leading armed forces charity, with branches all over the world. 

Mr Andrews took over the chairmanship of the Bordeaux & South-West France branch around three years ago and said that he has overseen a change in direction.

“Our branch covers a huge area, from the Mediterranean Sea to Deux-Sèvres.

“It is an area four times the size of Wales, so we cannot operate in the same way as other branches.

“Rather than cover the place with book sales and that kind of thing, we are simply saying that we are here if anyone needs us. We have had quite a few people come to us over Brexit, to sort out getting a carte de séjour, etc.

“We will effectively put our shoulder to any wheel that needs pushing. And anybody who wants to join can join. They do not have to have served.”

Mr Andrews has set up an email address for people to contact the branch in case of need: rblbx.assistance@gmail.com. Alternatively, they can call on his personal number: 05 57 64 46 21. The branch has a dedicated Facebook page.

Remembrance events

Apart from the Poppy Appeal, Mr Andrews said the branch gets involved in various memorials.

Read more: French British Legion branch vows to keep Remembrance alive

“The wars are more relevant in France, I think, because during World War One a tremendous number of people were killed here.

“There are war memorials all along the western coast. It is a more tangible form of remembrance and I believe it is very important that we stand shoulder to shoulder with the French.”

The branch usually attends the annual ceremony to remember troops involved in Operation Frankton, a commando raid on ships in the German-occupied port of Bordeaux during World War Two.

It also holds a ceremony every Remembrance Sunday at the CWGC cemetery in Talence (Gironde), which everyone is invited to attend.

Fundraising

Mr Andrews said people can support the branch by organising book sales and other fundraising events. 

He added that the branch has plentiful stocks of poppies, wreaths and anything else that people might need when organising events. 

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