Driffield News

Legion looking for recruits ahead of its centenary year

The Driffield and District Branch of the Royal British Legion is set to celebrate its 100th anniversary next January, a milestone that it’s hoped will be marked with a programme of events early in the new year.

However, the branch’s new parade marshal has told the Wolds Weekly that there is a real possibility that it’ll be 99 and out for the Legion if new, younger members don’t come forward to join.

Formed in Driffield on 4th January 1923, the branch has been active in the town thereafter, with members currently meeting at The Bell Hotel on the last Tuesday of each month.

There is still a perception that the British Legion is for older veterans and also, I know that by speaking to people in the local community, lots of them don’t realise that there is a Driffield branch

david hope

Membership is open to anyone, whether they have served in the military or not, with the main purpose of the Royal British Legion to help and support those who are ex-forces and their families.

The number of veterans attending meetings has tailed off over the years and now David Hope, the branch’s new Remembrance Sunday parade marshal, having taken over from previous incumbent David Southall, is on a mission to entice new members to join.

David, who served in the Army for 25 years, finishing his time as his corps regimental sergeant major, said that it’s evident that Driffield has a large veterans community, as seen by the success of the town’s Armed Forces & Veterans Breakfast Club.

However, he told the Wolds Weekly that now is the time to raise awareness of the organisation to ensure its presence remains in the Capital of the Wolds.

David Hope

“I want to save and preserve the Driffield branch of the Royal British Legion,” explained David.

“It was in a bit of trouble not too long ago and a couple of the veterans stepped up into the vacant roles and saved it for the time being.

“There is still a perception that the British Legion is for older veterans and also, I know that by speaking to people in the local community, lots of them don’t realise that there is a Driffield branch.

“Something needs to be done about that – there must be a reason why they do not know that it’s here.

“I know there are other veteran organisations now, such as the breakfast club, which is doing brilliantly.

“I go along and I’m trying to encourage some of those to come and join the Legion as well and some want to, and others don’t.

“I think we need to make people fully aware that the Legion exists here and what’s even more important is that it is coming up to its 100th anniversary.

“The branch is due to celebrate its centenary in January 2023 and it would be a real shame if it closed before then.

“The Legion is for everybody – veterans of all ages, and there are plenty of those in Driffield.

“At the fallout of World War Two, they were all older guys, but now there is a huge variety of ages and we want them all to come.

“You don’t even have to be a veteran to join. To be part of the branch, you don’t need any military background, it’s about supporting the community.”

As part of the branch’s attempts to reach out to the people of Driffield, it has now been designated as a community support branch.

This means David, as the Driffield support representative, will lead the branch’s community output.

However, he needs support from volunteers to achieve his goals and is sending out an SOS call for people to get involved and take on a range of roles, whilst giving up just a couple of hours.

“We’ve recently become a community support branch, which the Legion is encouraging all branches to do,” said David.

“What this means is that we can offer more support within the community. I’ve been off to do some training and have now been appointed as the support representative for the Driffield branch.

“I’m now looking for community support volunteers and these can be veterans, British Legion members, but they do not have to be either.

“This is about supporting the military community here in the Driffield area, offering help such as being a telephone buddy for someone feeling isolated and lonely and home visits.

“You can have veterans of any age, even those with family and children, but they still might feel isolated after leaving the military.

“We can also offer bereavement support and attendance at funerals.

“I’m just looking for people to help me deliver that.

“On the whole, Driffield is good at supporting its veteran community, but we need to grow the awareness of it.

“I’ve reached this part of the Legion through a friend of mine who runs a charity in the north of England that helps veterans in crisis and I volunteer for that as a mentor.

“Some of the veterans are in such a bad state that they can’t help themselves out of the situation they are in and we help them get out of it.

“This all begins with leaving the military and feeling isolated.

“That’s why we want to grow this branch of the Legion and offer veterans our support.”

To become a community support volunteer, call David on 07917 784706 and to learn more about becoming a member of the Driffield and District Branch of the Royal British Legion, go along to one of the meetings at The Bell Hotel, which are held on the final Tuesday of every month.

David has also booked a stand at Driffield Show on Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st July, where people can learn more about the organisation and how it supports veterans and their families.

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