The Royal British Legion was formed in 1921 and the first ever Poppy Appeal was held that year. Broadstone Branch was set up in June 1945, and on Armistice Sunday a service was held at St John's Church, followed by a parade to the War Memorial in the Recreation Ground where a short service took place. The Women's Section was started in February 1946 and at that time the annual subscription was 1s 6d (7½p)! The Branch bought two ex-army huts in 1947 and converted them into a hall on the current site. The huts were replaced by the permanent building in 1970.
(Source: ‘A New History of Broadstone’ by Margaret Roebuck and Julia Wenham.)
Currently many social activities take place in the Broadstone Royal British Legion Club, and the restaurant, for example, is very popular. Membership is no longer limited to former service men or women and there are currently 1000 members.
Benevolence is an important feature of the Royal British Legion and the Poppy Appeal raises money to help those people serving in the armed forces, those who have served and their dependants. The welfare service is now largely operated via a national call centre based in Cardiff (Tel. 0808 802 8080). Calls from our area that need follow-up action are referred to Southampton. Named caseworkers are then allocated to make personal visits to those who have problems with housing, debts, mobility, benefits, pensions and other issues. Where appropriate, the Royal British Legion also works with other service organisations to provide support. Nationally, the Royal British Legion spends £1.8million per week in England and Wales on its welfare work.
Last year Poppy sales by the Broadstone Branch raised £27,000 which was all passed to the central organisation. Collections will commence this year on 28 October and volunteers will be at Poole Tesco Stores at Fleetsbridge and Tower Park, and B&Q Depot at Fleets Lane. Over 50 volunteers are needed and so if you have an hour or so to spare during the two-week collection period, do make contact with Pat Talbot of Lower Blandford Road, Broadstone. Pat Talbot has given over 40 years of service to the Royal British Legion, and his wife Barbara has been active in the Women's Section for many years.
This year's Parade and Service are on 12 November and anyone wishing to join the Parade should meet by RBL in Tudor Road at 10.30am. The Parade will include a band, Brownies, Cubs, Scouts, Guides and other uniformed youth groups, as well as veterans. As in 1945, the participants will march to the War Memorial for a short service, this year led by the Rev Sue Gowling.