Quarter 3 News - July

A big thank you goes to Lesley Frater  for providing Julys' Website header Picture taken at Penshaw Monument.

Unfortunately at the moment most of our news is around the COVID-19 pandemic as such we have set up a dedicated page to keep members informed.  However we are currently posting a weekly spiritual Message from Northumbria's County Chaplain the Rev. George Callander. 

31st July 2020

Weekly Spiritual Message 

God knows I know next to nothing about football, and what I do know is probably wrong in any case. I have never really followed a team, and have only a few times been to watch a match. Likewise rugby has largely passed me by as a supporter. In my previous life as a senior A&E nurse I did spent some of my days-off at football and rugby touchlines (league and otherwise) providing medical assistance - and being surprised at close quarters by how fast they run and how hard they fall. Before moving on I should declare that I love watching (I repeat watching) cricket and - hard to imagine when looking at my slender frame, I know, but I played volleyball and badminton at university. My word, and how that ship has sailed…!

This brief journey down sporting memory lane was triggered when I happened to see none other that HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge on TV entertaining footballer and media personality Peter Crouch and others to curry at Kensington Palace. They were discussing mental health awareness in football. The Prince is part of an important drive to raise awareness of mental health in young people - indeed in people in general as a means of normalising discussion of mental health. As a society we are becoming more aware of our and others’ mental health, and more able to talk about it and how it affects our and other peoples’ lives. Sadly, we’re not there yet. For every person able to be open about their feelings, their struggles and challenges and to feel able to reach out to someone, there are too many unable to do so for fear of ridicule, rejection or misunderstanding. Even if some do reach out for help, the limited resources obviously available are too stretched and waiting times seem unbearable.

People often aren’t aware there are so many places to whom they can turn - even if it’s just the friendly, calming voice of a Samaritan providing that emergency ‘first aid’ down the phone. Not everyone we meet or know is a trained therapist of course. However, if more of us had a greater understanding of mental health, what it means and what it doesn’t mean it might make it increasingly easy for people to genuinely talk about how they feel. It could prevent some of the truly tragic pastoral situations I find myself ministering to every year.
Public figures like Prince William, Peter Crouch, David Beckham, et al are inspirations and role models to millions of young (and less young) people at home and abroad. I can only hope and pray their mission to raise awareness of mental health issues will blossom and flourish like leaves on the tree.

And so I pray:  May those who in any way suffer in mind or spirit know they are not alone,
but walk hand in hand with people of all ages and circumstance
surrounded by true dignity, compassion, integrity and peace
in the all-enfolding light of God, visible in anyone
who hears or perceives their simple ‘Help Me’.

Blessings and best wishes

Rev. George Callander FIW FRSA
Northumbria County Chaplain

24th July 2020

Weekly Spiritual Message 

On Tuesday we had a trip over from Durham for a spot of cycling at the seaside. It was a beautiful day, so we cycled from Blyth Dock to Cullercoats and back. Not overly far, I know, but nevertheless very scenic and enjoyable. I always enjoy cycling along the front at Whitley Bay, past Spanish City in its Moorish refurbished splendour. This time I especially enjoyed cycling through Blyth Dock. I have been many times to Blyth, but never to the dock area. The reason for my interest is because many years ago, my Grandad Callander, a Merchant Navy man for most of his working life, sailed for a time from Blyth Dock. I found it moving to think I was enjoying the scenery in perhaps the very same area he worked (although it has been - to use a technical term, much tarted-up and altered since my Grandad’s day). In a small way I felt connected to him once again, and I reflected there are many times and places where we find ourselves unexpectedly connected either to our individual past or our common past.

We happily visit places like castles, cathedrals, churches and abbeys and we become connected, albeit fleetingly to the other visitors, like us gawping, meditating, praying or just wandering around and taking-in the architectural treasures for all to see. However, every visitor is also connecting on a deeper level with everyone and everything that has gone before in that place. And so it is when we walk round cemeteries looking at gravestones or pause for a moment at Memorials: we are connecting in some way with those whose names are commemorated. I have always been mindful of this and if practical and permissible I like to gently lay a hand on a memorial or bow my head in thanksgiving and gratitude.

It is just as easy to connect with God (however we choose to understand ‘God’) because the divine presence is always with us. Some of us find it easy to sense the divine presence and embrace it; and others less so. Others, too, would say it is easier for them to walk round a medieval building and imagine the lives of the previous occupants, than it is to sense the divine presence within them. And that’s fine. Just as sometimes we can find ourselves connected to our individual or common past, we can find ourselves connected to the divine presence - to God - in the most surprising and unassuming ways; and that is the richest of blessings.
Blessings and best wishes

Rev. George Callander FIW FRSA
Northumbria County Chaplain

17th July 2020

Telling Our Story 2 -  Webinar Registrations - Still two date available 

Please see below for how to register for the one on the 21st July 

Join our historical consultant, Dan Hill in the second webinar of the Telling Our Story series. This webinar will share examples of findings, discuss highlights, and more.

Please see below for registration details and timings:

Date: 21 July 2020

Time: 19:30-20:30

To join the webinar, please register in advance and add the webinar meeting to your calendar. You will also receive an email confirmation after you have registered.

If you are unable to join us, please save the date and register for the remaining scheduled webinar: 

11 August, 19:30-20:30.

For further details, please visit the Legion website or email us at Telling Our Story.


17th July 2020

Weekly Spiritual Message 

Seven times a day will I praise you, O God (Psalm 119)

I try to recite Morning Prayer and Night Prayer in some form every day, and have done so since I was ordained three hundred years ago. Indeed I have tried to recite Night Prayer (or Compline) in some form every evening since I was fourteen years old. These form two of what are known as the seven “Hours” of the liturgical day: Lauds, Matins, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline. Nowadays, all seven are generally only observed by some communities of monks and nuns. Indeed, many more communities combine them into three. There are seven “Hours” in fulfilment of verse 164 of Psalm 119: “Seven times a day will I praise you, O God”. The “Hours” are services of different lengths - Lauds, Matins and Vespers can be reasonably lengthy (with Lauds sometimes running to almost two hours!) and Terce and Sext, very short. The text of Compline - to be sung after the sun has set - never varies, is quite short and is designed to be learned off by heart. The seven “Hours” contain psalms, hymns, canticles, readings and prayers fitting the time and season. There are many different books (breviaries) containing the “Hours”, with most Christian denominations having their own versions; indeed, there is also something similar and equally beautiful to be found in Judaism, and doubtless elsewhere, too.

The compilers of the Book of Common Prayer of 1662 were somewhat ingenious when they distilled Lauds, Matins and the Day Hours to create the Office of Mattins (or Matins), and distilled Vespers and Compline to create the magnificent Office of Evensong - which remains one of the treasures of choral worship to this day, and one which I have been blessed to sing hundreds of times over the years as a cathedral chorister, lay-clerk and at Oxford.

I started by saying I try to offer Morning and Night prayer every day; and indeed I do. Sometimes I use a formal breviary - and I have a variety: English, Latin, Catholic, Reformed, formal, informal. Equally, if more practical I use the collection of resources in my head and my heart to put together the office of Matins. Usually in the car when I am driving along. I can’t for a moment imagine that God the Great Mystery in whom we live and move and have our being and to whom we offer our praise seven times a day, twice a day or even once a fortnight would object. Even if occasionally not all the words are exactly correct and there’s more than a little paraphrasing going on…
For it’s the spirit in which the praises are offered that is truly important.
Blessings and best wishes

Rev. George Callander FIW FRSA
Northumbria County Chaplain

10th July 2020

Weekly Spiritual Message 

A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.  (Proverbs 17:22)

This ancient biblical text, although much translated down the years resonates within us, and gets us nodding our heads in agreement. An approximate translation of the original Hebrew text might be: “A gleeful heart is like a medicine, an afflicted spirit dries up the bones”. Or a modern translation might be: “If you are happy you, feel great; if you are down, you ache”. Plain speaking. Makes complete sense!

This verse of scripture was written several thousand years ago, when the world was a very different place from the one we inhabit today. The writers could not have known being happy is indeed like a medicine. Happiness and laughter have many benefits causing the brain to produce and release chemicals which have a beneficial effect on the neurological and cardiovascular systems of the body, including the anaesthetic effect on the body gained from a good, solid period of laughter. We feel more positive, uplifted and motivated and have a bit of ‘get up and go’. Whereas, if for whatever reason we feel down, that get up and go can seem to have ‘got up and gone’. No one can force another to to be happy; and God knows, when we look around us sometimes it’s hard to see what there is to be happy about. Apart from everything else that’s going on it’s supposed to be summer and the weather is less than ideal. However, there is much we can do to help lead the downcast spirit and dry bones to the cheerful heart and its good medicine.

We can look for the positive in life’s situations and become ‘glass half-full’ people. We can learn to smile, for smiling lifts the spirits of those giving and receiving the smile. Finally we can make time for ourselves to relax and spend time doing something we enjoy: creating some “me time” to recharge the batteries. We think nothing of plugging in our phones, laptops, tablets and other devices for their daily recharge. We must do the same for ourselves because our batteries drain too - and we only get one. Remember: A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones.
Blessings and best wishes

Rev. George Callander FIW FRSA
Northumbria County Chaplain 

8th July 2020

Telling Our Story -  Webinar Registrations - Still two date available 

Following the launch of our membership Centenary activity Telling Our Story,  members were invited to register and attend the first of three informative webinar sessions with historical consultant, Dan Hill, who will also be joined by guest speaker Mark Brennan, Chairman of the Hadleigh Branch in Suffolk. 

The first webinar will explore the ways you can get involved in Telling Our Story, providing tips and guidance for digitising your findings and much more. 

registration for this was on the 7 July 2020 and it took place between  19:30-20:30 

To join the webinar, you were required to  register in advance and add the webinar meeting to your calendar. You would also have receive an email confirmation after you have registered. 

The good news is that for anyone who was unable to attend this event the following dates are scheduled for the remaining webinars:

21 July 

8 August 

For further details, please visit the Legion website or email at Telling Our Story. 

3rd July 2020

Annual Conference 

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic Annual Conference, which was scheduled to take place in May, was cancelled. Despite the challenges we have been presented with, we remain committed to still holding Annual Conference this year while also prioritising the safety of our members. We are now pleased to inform you that Annual Conference will be held digitally on Saturday 19th September 2020.

This year’s online format will enable members from all over the world to attend from the comfort of their home by simply watching the live streamed Annual Conference through an internet browser such as Internet Explorer or Google Chrome.

Attendees will have the opportunity to watch the National Chairman and Director General addressing members, will be able to attend a presentation of the Annual Report and Accounts and ask their questions as part of the Membership Forum, while delegates will be given access to an online platform in advance of the event, to discuss and vote on motions.

How you can attend as a visitor or a delegate

For the first time ever, members will be able to attend Annual Conference remotely using their own devices such as a computer, laptop or tablet. Anyone interested in attending is invited to register by completing a form before 5pm on Friday 7th August 2020.

Register as a visitor:

  • To register as a visitor please use the online form on the main RBL website found here.
  • After registration has closed, all those who have successfully registered will receive an email with information detailing how you will be able to virtually attend conference.

Register as a delegate:

  • All Branches that are compliant are encouraged to register, virtually attend and vote. If your Branch has already registered its delegates, you do not need to register again.
  • If you haven’t registered your Branch or County/District Delegate, you can use the online form accessible through the Membership Administration Portal (MAP) found here.
  • After registration has closed, all those who have successfully registered will receive an email with information about how you can attend and vote on motions.

If you are unable to use the above online forms, please contact your local Membership Support Officer or the Annual Conference team at

How you can vote as a Branch delegate

All voting will take place prior to start of Annual Conference through an online portal. Registered delegates will be able to access the website for voting a few weeks before the date of Annual Conference and voting will close on the 16th August. This website will allow you to read the motions and submit one vote per motion. Only those registered will be able to vote.

There will also be a platform where delegates will be able to submit their “for” and “against” arguments for the motions and other delegates will be able to read them prior to voting. All of the information on how to access these websites will be sent directly to the delegate after the closing date of registration.

How to take part in the Membership Forum

The Membership Forum is a chance for all members to have their questions answered by a panel of experts. We encourage our members to send your questions to us in advance, by emailing the Annual Conference team at

Attendees will be able to submit their question on the day, but please do send us your question in advance, to allow for more time for your question to be answered. We may take your question away to the relevant department and provide an answer after Conference if necessary.

Motions of Urgency

Due to the exceptional circumstances that have led to the new format for this year’s conference motions of urgency will only be accepted up until 5pm on Monday 31st August 2020 to allow the delegates to vote before the start of the live stream.

For any queries please contact the team at

3rd July 2020

Weekly Spiritual Message 

At the weekend, after a brief stop in Amble to enjoy the finest bacon roll known to mankind, we found ourselves walking along a largely empty Alnmouth beach. It was such a beautiful day I had even come prepared to have a dip in the briny - something I haven’t done for many years. And I soon remembered why: it was freezing!
The sea looked beautiful. The white-topped waves, jade-green in the sunlight rolled towards the sandy beach. If only they could speak they would have many tales to tell. The white froth spreading out across the beach marked the end of the wave’s journey; one which might have taken it across oceans and seas, millpond smooth or whipped into massive, angry peaks and troughs by violent winds and the strongest of tides: but the same water which now, at the end of its journey spread out past me in a cascade of bubbles, before being drawn back out to sea to begin again.

As I stood up to my knees in the water looking out to the North Sea, I thought of Armed Forces Day and reflected upon the Service of “those who go down to the sea in ships” or who “ their works in great waters”. I never cease to be thankful for their courage and strength, putting themselves at the mercy of the Sea, in all its unpredictable might, majesty and power. Not only our Navies, but the RNLI, Coastguard and all who serve and protect those on, in or near the sea.

I was brought back to shore by the lure of a flask of coffee and a warm seat in the car and the chance to look at the stunning vista before me, to listen to the gentle roar of the sea from afar, and marvel once again at the sheer vastness and diversity of God spread out before us. If only we would see it...!
Blessings and best wishes

Rev. George Callander FIW FRSA
Northumbria County Chaplain

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