'I've been inspired': Victoria Atkins MP special guest at 100th anniversary celebration of Spilsby district Royal British Legion

Local MP Victoria Atkins says she has been inspired by the work of the Royal British Legion in her ministerial role resettling refugee families from Afghanistan in Operation Warm Welcome.

The MP for Louth and Horncastle was attending a musical extravaganza to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Spilsby and District Branch of the Royal British Legion.

The branch celebrated this milestone along with the Royal British Legion itself on Saturday night at the Franklin Hall..

Formed on October 8, 1921, it is amongst the longest serving in the country, supporting service people and their families.

MP Victoria Atkins (second left) was a special guest at the 100th anniversary of the Spilsby and District branch of the Royal British Legion. Also pictured are (from left) Raymond Glynn-Owen (Hon Treasurer) Bill Atkin , ( Vice- Chair), Barbara Chandler (Hon Secretary), Ron Worth (President) and Denis Chandler (Chair).

Ms Atkins attended the musical evening along with her husband and son.

Over the years she has formed a special connection with the branch. In 2018 - along with David Morris, MP for Morecombe and Lunesdale in Lancashire - she helped return the Dead Man's Penny belonging to local Private Charles Edward Woodward’s Dead Man’s Penny to the town. Mr Morris found it in a London militaria shop and it now takes pride of place in the Franklin Hall.

"It's been a fantastic evening and a joyous occasion to reflect on all of the great work the Royal British Legion has done," Ms Atkins said.

"It's amazing that Spilsby was one of the very first branches and they continue to this day.

"The organisation is also inspirational for me in my new role as Minister for Afghan Resettlement because the work the veterans have done to help ex-servicemen and their families is not just connected to the First World War but every single conflict since.

"We have had a fantastic evening and it has been a pleasure to be here."

Other special guests at the evening included the Mayor of Spilsby, Coun Terry Taylor and his wife, Ann and Mr John Johnson, chairman of the Lincolnshire Royal British Legion,

The musical extravaganza featured the Alford Silver Band, the Creaking Bones Ukelele band and the Spilsby U3A Singing for Fun choir. There was a surprise appearance of Karl Bird who gave a heartfelt performance in memory of his father, Maurice, a long-time supporter of the Spilsby British Legion, who passed away last year.

Franklin Hall was decorated with union flags and memorabilia and giant poppies had been put up around town by Spilsby Town Council to mark the anniversary and the launch of the 2021 Poppy Appeal.

Denis Chandler, chairman of Spilsby district branch of Royal British Legion, said the members had been looking forward to the celebration for some time.

"With the pandemic in between it's taken a while to put together but I'm pleased so many people have taken the trouble to attend," he said.

"We are one of the oldest branches in the country but we are losing members through age and we find it difficult to recruit.

"You don't have to have been an ex-serviceman to join and it would be lovely to say we have 100 members in our 100th year."

Dwindling membership has impacted this year's Poppy Appeal. "For the first time we have no Poppy Appeal organiser which means there will not be as many boxes in shops around town," said Mr Chandler.

"There will still be opportunities to make a donation but fewer than normal."

Mr Chandler said he was greatful to everyone who helped make the evening possible. "Our thanks go to the businesses of Spilsby and East Kirkby and friends of the Legion who generously donated prizes for the raffle," he said. "Thanks also to K Bar from Lincoln, who not only provided an excellent bar service but also donated their profits for the evening to the Poppy Appeal.

"In giving out the thanks I cannot forget the efforts of Branch members who gave up their time to dress the hall with bunting and flags and to run the various stalls on the night. Well done and thank you."

To join the Royal British Legion, visit the website at www.britishlegion.org.uk and scroll down to ‘Become a Member’.

Read also