poppy field



Dear Member,

Happy New Year.

Welcome to the first newsletter of 2020, I hope that we can all enjoy a happy, healthy and peaceful year.

I have held this newsletter over until after County Conference so that I can provide a report quickly rather than wait until March.

In your newsletter this month we feature:

  1. Membership
    • Renewal Information
    • County Groups
  2. RBL 100thBirthday Celebrations
  3. County Event Calendar
  4. Poppy Appeal
    • Calendar of Events
  5. The Great Get Together
  6. Strategic Review – Latest update – Una Cleminson, National Chairman, Board of Trustees
  7. New Royal Charter and Management Handbook 
  8. County Conference
  9. Closing Statement from our Retiring County Chairman – Mr. Eric Robinson
  10. Almonisation
  11. Around the Branches
    • Riders Branch – Beds Clangers
    • Clapham Branch
  12. Royal Charter Fun Quiz



Renewal Information

Membership Renewal now takes place throughout the year with most of our members renewing on 1st October each year, however members who have joined since 2015 may have a renewal date  dictated by the date that they physically joined the Legion.

The renewal process is no longer controlled by Branches, but centrally.

Renewal instructions will be sent to you a month or so before your membership is due, this gives you plenty of time to renew before your membership expires; any communications,  information, updates etc. that you receive after your expiry date is totally goodwill and may be stopped at any time and after a period, if your membership is not renewed, it will be lapsed (this may be controlled centrally or by the Branch).

Please do not destroy any paperwork that you receive regarding your renewal as you may need it to effect this.

If you are unsure of how you can renew, or you have lost your paperwork, please contact the Legion Contact Centre on 0808 802 8080, They will be able to give you all the information you may need and, if required, will renew your membership there and then (by debit or credit card or they can set up direct debits).

County Groups

Message from Sharon Turton our MSO

Over the last few months the Head of Membership, Governance and Compliance has been taking a close look at the function of Groups within Counties.

Historically, we had 4 Groups officially listed on the system and 3 have not been in Operation for quite some time. Groups are expected to be as compliant in their practices as Branches and Counties and should also follow the Guidelines for Groups that are set out in the Membership Handbook.

Group MS1’s and Accounts are expected to be submitted on an Annual basis in line with the Membership Handbook. The dates for submission are the same as the dates for Branches. The Finance and Membership Team at Haig House have no records of any Accounts or MS1 submissions for North Beds Group. Therefore, this meant that the Group have not been operating in accordance with the Membership Handbook and Royal Charter and have deemed non-compliant by Haig House.

All Branches, Groups and Counties within The Royal British Legion must abide by our Governing Documents to ensure that we are operating as we should be. The Charities Commission are clamping down on the use of funds held under the name of Charities and we must all ensure that we are fully compliant.

After all of the above was taken into consideration between me and the team at Haig House, the decision was taken to officially close all Groups within Bedfordshire.

Whilst North Beds Group were active, they were not a compliant Group and they were not operating within the guidelines set out in the Membership Handbook and this went a long way towards this decision being made. Regrettable as this may be for some, this is a final decision made by Haig House and myself.

Until such a time where we have a fully compliant set of Branches within Bedfordshire and have actively assisted the Branches within the County who are at risk, or struggling, there will be no case for any groups to be reformed.

Kind Regards


Sharon Turton

Membership Support Officer

Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire


RBL 100th Birthday Celebrations

Date for your Diary - On 15th May 2021, The County will be holding a 100th Birthday Celebration of The Royal British Legion event in St Mary’s Garden’s which is along Bedford Riverside. All Branches will be expected to attend on the day as we would like to bring the County together and show that we are One County, One Legion. We know that many Branches will probably want to hold their own event on the day, but we are politely requesting that you put those events off until Sunday 16th May instead.

County Event Calendar - 2020

Date Event Time
09/02 Stotfold Civic Service - St. Mary's Church 14:30
23/02 Leighton Linslade Civic Service - All Saints Church 14:30
08/03 Dunstable Civic Service – Priory Church 14:30
11/03 Commonwealth Day - TBC  
22/03 Sandy Civic Service - St. Swithun's Church 14:30
29/03 Biggleswade Civic Service - St. Andres's Church 14:30
23/04 St. George's Day Concert - Corn Exchange Bedford 19:30
26/04 Houghton Regis Civic Service - TBC  
08/05  VE Day Events - TBC  
08/05 Clapham RBL, 306 Bomber Memorial, Thurleigh Airfield - TBC  
08/05 Stotfield Town Council VE Day Celebration - TBC 18:00
08/05 Houghton Regis, VE Day  Celebration - TBC  
08/05 Luton, VE Day - TBC  
08/05 Sandy Town Council, VE Day Street Party 16:00 - 21:00
08/05 Ampthill Town Council, VE Day Street Party etc. 15:00 - 19:00
08/05 Shefford Town Council, VE Day Street Party  
09/05 Leighton Linslade VE Day Event - TBC  
10/05 Lord Lieutenants Service - St. Pauls Church, Bedford 15:00
10/05 Luton Borough Council, VE Day Event/Service - TBC  
10/05 Clapham RBL, VE Day - Parish Church 10:30
10/05 Leighton Buzzard, VE Day Service - All Saints 18:00
10/05 Stotfold, VE Day Service - St. Mary's 10:30
10/05 Ampthill, VE Day Service - St. Andrew's 18:00
14/06 Whipsnade Tree Cathedral Annual Service 14:30
22/06 Armed Forces Flag Raising - Borough Hall, Bedford 10:30
22/06 Armed Forces Flag Raising - Chicksands, Shefford 10:30
27/06 Armed Forces Day Parade - Bedford  
18-19/07 Bedford River Festival  
15/08 VJ Event - Elstow Abbey, including FEPOW Chapel Events 12:00 Onwards
01/11 ScottsService - Bedford Cemetery 11:00
08/11 Remembrance Service Countrywide  
11/11 Armistice Day, Bedford and Luton 11:00
03-06/12 Christmas Tree Festival - St Paul's, Bedford Setup 02/12
13/12 County Carol Concert - TBC  


Poppy Appeal

The latest Poppy Appeal news and information will be presented here. 

 Calendar of Events 




Nothing to Report

 The Great Get Together

In 2020 the Legion will be working with the Jo Cox Foundation encouraging Branches to bring your community together by supporting or organising a local event as part of the Great Get Together. Keep an eye out for the Legion magazine that will include more information.

 Strategic Review – Latest message from Una Cleminson, National Chairman, Board of Trustees 

Following previous correspondence in November, I am writing to update you on the outcome of the proposals to close our four Break Centres and Handy Van Service.

The Board of Trustees considered the proposals again following the consultation process with employees, taking into account feedback received through this process and from other stakeholders, and we have made the decision to proceed with closing these services.

The charity is creating a new strategy that will ensure the Legion is having the greatest impact, making the most of our resources, and evolving in line with changes in the Armed Forces community.

The new direction is being developed to address the changes in the Armed Forces community, as the type of support needed is growing increasingly complex with people requiring help across multiple issues. Since 2016 the charity has seen a 20% increase in people needing basic support with housing, financial issues, mental health and well-being and mobility. In this time, the average expenditure per household through the Legion’s Immediate Needs Grants has risen 45% from £900 to £1330.

People are coming to us with multiple needs where a holistic approach providing ongoing support is required. We are seeing people at their lowest ebb, at risk of homelessness, and in dire financial situations where they can’t afford to feed their families. Ceasing to operate the Break Centres and Handy Van Service will provide £5.8 million annually which will be diverted to address the urgent needs people are coming to us with. By refocusing our resource, the Legion can invest more in on-the-ground, personalised support across our network.

The decision to close our Break Centres and Handy Van Service has not been taken lightly, we know these services are well loved and it will ultimately lead to some of our colleagues leaving the charity. The affected staff have all contributed greatly to our work, they are part of our community, and we are doing all we can to support them in their next steps.

The reprioritised funding will provide increased resource to better personalise support packages, build plans that fit individual needs, bolster care services for older members of the Armed Forces community, and grant fund other organisations who are providing specialist support that the Legion cannot through its existing services.

 Service provision in Northern Ireland

We recognise the unique situation in Northern Ireland, both the historic issues and current challenges, which make it difficult for veterans to find the support they need. In addition, there are significantly lower levels of support from the state in that area.

To meet these challenges, we have established a newly formed Northern Ireland Advisory Committee to continue reviewing how best to meet beneficiary needs in the area and coordinate with the re-convened Northern Ireland Assembly and new Veterans Commissioner. 

The decision has been made to stop providing break services across the Legion, however, we will temporarily utilise Bennet House for use by the Poppy Club, local community and other charities, to help continue supporting beneficiaries in the area. 

The building will be available for nonresidential activity until July 2020, when its use will be re-evaluated as part of service provision in Northern Ireland, which will be informed by existing research and a new report on veterans’ needs that is due to be published in June by Queen’s University, Belfast. 

For nearly 100 years the Legion has supported the British Armed Forces community, providing practical help and campaigning on their behalf. Throughout our history the Legion has responded to the changes in our community and the landscape the charity operates within. As we look ahead

to our centenary, the Legion will once again adapt to meet the needs of the people we support and ensure we are fit for purpose for the next 100 years.

If you have any questions about the Legion’s strategy work please email  strategy@britishlegion.org.uk

Yours sincerely,

Una Cleminson

National Chairman, Board of Trustees


There is a set of Questions and Answers available, but it is too big to post in this newsletter, should you wish to see these please contact myself as shown at the bottom of this newsletter or our MSO.


New Royal Charter and Membership Handbook

New Royal Charter and Membership Handbook

After receiving feedback from Members about the Royal Charter and the Membership Handbook, we’ve worked with Members to review and modernise them. As a result, we are pleased to introduce the new Royal Charter and new Membership Management Handbook. You will find the Royal Charter on our website. The Membership Management Handbook is available to all Branch Officers on Office 365

As a bit of fun, I have compiled a short quiz on the new Royal Charter at the end of this newsletter, test your knowledge.

County Conference 2020

The County Conference 2020 was held at Henlow Pavilion, Groveside, Henlow, SG16 6AP on Saturday 1st February 2020 at 11:00.

This item is not a full report on the event but is intended to be a concise review.

Conference was opened at 11:00 with the parade of Standards, the Union Flag was accompanied by the County Standard and four Branch Standards, the Roll of Honour was read out by Sharon Turton, our MSO.

The RBL Exhortation was lead by our County Chairman, Eric Robinson; this was followed by the Silence; after Reveille the Kohima Epitaph was recited by the Chairman.

The Standards left the assembly.

The Guests of Honour were welcomed, Mr. Joe Falzon, National Vice Chairman and Mr. Chris Titmuss, Beds/Herts Case Officer, representing East Midlands Area Manager. Unfortunately, our County President was not able to be present and no report was available and the next few items were general meeting items.

The County Chairman presented his Annual Report, which was rather poignant as it was his last report, but the parting message was to remember to provide recognition of services provided by members, by means of Branch and County Awards.

Tom Murphy presented the County Treasurers report and for the first time we had an adverse comment, however this was not as a result of any action by our treasurer, but an issue that had not been resolved by Haig House.

Sadly, our Community Fundraiser, Michael Lewis was not able to be present as he has broken his femur and no report was provided, we do, of course wish Michael a very speedy recovery.

Chris Titmuss presented the Area Managers Report which gave a look back on what has been happening in and around our Area including details of welfare cases by category, these were broken down by area and for Bedfordshire specifically.
Page 6 of 11
After a break in the meeting Mr. Joe Falzon – National Vice Chairman, gave a very enlightening address.

The election of County Committee members resulted in both Nominations being confirmed and with only one nomination for County Chairman, Mr. Paul Sawford will take on this role for the next three years, however there were no nominations for County Vice Chairman and in accordance with the rules the next senior committee member was asked to accept this role for the next year until a formal nomination and vote could resolve this issue; Mr. John Clarke accepted this role.

The date and location of the next County Conference will be Saturday 6th February 2021 at Henlow Pavilion, Groveside, Henlow, SG16 6AP.

The following Trophies and Certificates were awarded by Mr. Joe Falzon and County Chairman Eric Robinson.


                            Lord Luke of Pavenham Trophy

Winner of the 2019 Standard Bearer’s Competition

           Mr. John Holland (Cotton End Branch)

                                       Lawrence Gillet Cup

                Runner-up of the 2019 Standard Bearer’s Competition

                     Mr. Haydn Stevens (Sandy and District Branch)

                                    Excellence Cup

                                       Excellence in Branch Efficiency

            Sandy and District Branch (Received by Roger Sparks, Branch Chairman)

                   Eric Robinson Award For Legion Values Sid Lovett

            County Chairman’s Certificate of Appreciation

                                    Tom Murphy

                                       County Chairman’s Certificate of Appreciation

                                                             Roger Sparks

At this point the Standards returned to the hall and the County Vice-President Joyce Shrubbs

Charged the County Standard to our County Standard Bearer John Holland

There followed a farewell vote of Thanks by our retiring County Chairman – Mr. Eric Robinson,

where he presented flowers to the three ladies that have provided support to him over many years.

A short address by our incoming County Chairman – Mr. Paul Sawford ended the county Conference proceedings.

The conference was closed and was followed by the National Anthem.

After conference a short talk was given by the Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue service about safety in the home.


Closing Statement from our Retiring County Chairman – Mr. Eric Robinson

 Eric Robinson has been our County Chairman for the past six years and as his time in office draws to a close, I asked him for his closing statement, this is below:

I thought that a short article explaining my thoughts on standing down as your County Chairman would be a good way to say farewell to you all.

My tenure as County Chairman has been nothing short of enjoyment during all the past 6 years and I have met so many people whom I can now class as my friends. The whole experience has been so enjoyable. Of course, I have received much support from so many people including the County Committee and in particular Paul Sawford as the Vice Chairman, Sharon Turton as the Membership Support Officer for Bedfordshire and of course my wife Pat, who has supported me on every single occasion that I represented the County at so many civic functions.

Yes, I shall miss all of this but there comes a time for everyone to hang up their boots and enjoy what is left of one’s retirement years to spend with family and I am looking forward to this enormously.

Thank you to you all who have given me so much support over the years and I wish each and every one of you the very best of health and fortune in the future.



 Each month the County Committee are notified of welfare cases within our area and are asked to contribute towards the cost of these, below are the cases that have been notified this month and I invite you to contact your Branch Committee and suggest to them that they might wish to make a contribution towards the cost of any that are within your Branch area, this is a good use of your Branch funds.

Branch Treasurer’s please contact Sharon our MSO, if you can help, at


Ref Amount £ Postcode Town Category
201619717 166.001 Mk43 Bedford Mobility
201620062 47.00 MK40 Bedford Browns
201620063 206.04 MK40 Bedford Whites
201620100 1,772.00 LU2 Luton Mobility
201620312 391.00 SG19 Sandy Browns
201620350 337.40 SG18 Biggleswade Medical
201620644 680.00 SG17 Shefford Debt
201621368 167.00 LU1 Luton Mobility
201621461 473.04 MK45 Bedford Browns
201621840 398.95 LU6 Dunstable Browns
201621849 392.83 LU1 Luton Browns
201621914 222.00 SG17 Shefford Training
201621992 680.00 SG17 Shefford Debt
201622461 801.91 SG19 Sandy Housing
201622463 680.00 SG17 Shefford Debt
201623060 167.00 LU1 Luton Mobility
201623444 500.00 MK42 Bedford Browns
201624019 521.31 SG19 Sandy Debt
201624448 500.00 MK42 Bedford Browns
201624449 1,450.49 LU7 Leighton Buzzard Debt
201624657 308.40 LU5 Dunstable Mobility
201625176 680.00 SG17 Shefford Debt


Around the Branches

Clapham Branch

The Clapham Branch are working very closely with local Parish Councils planning for the VE75 weekend. On Friday 8th May they will visit the USAF 306 BG Museum at the Thurleigh Airfield. Over 170 aircraft were
lost from this Airfield in WW2. The Museum and the War Memorial are both on the north side of the Airfield. Entry is free. The Museum is manned by volunteers. It is well worth a visit.

On Saturday 9th May the Branch is having a Spam and Jam Coffee morning at the Clapham Methodist Church starting at 10:00. The Parish Council are then organising other events for the afternoon and the

On Sunday 10th May Branch members will worship at the Parish Church. Following the service there will be a Street Party.

Many thanks

Ro Haggerwood


Riders Branch (Beds Clangers)

So, I find myself sitting here, trying to cast my blurry mind back to the last part of 2019 and conjure up “WTF” did we really do, so bear with me, as It seems a lifetime ago.

As 2019 drew to a close, we attended the County RBL Carol service, with around 13 riders in attendance and all were armed with their fine singing voices, we set off to RV at the Church in Bedford, a new location and a totally different type of service, which was a nice change from the norm with an interesting twist to the sermon, unfortunately our fine singing voices were not so good, but we gave it our best.

Finally, we reached our last event of our year. It was time for the Beds Riders annual Christmas Party, we had a total of 58 people attend and 44 of these were riders’ members along with a few of our newest recruits. This party is without doubt the highlight of our year, we all shared a fantastic sit down 3 course Christmas dinner with live music and plenty of banter and plenty of liquid refreshments.

We use this event to present our very own

“Clanger of the year Award” this unique presentation piece is presented to the most outstanding and deserving Rider in our county and congratulations went to Martyn Hedgecock for being the 2019 recipient.

Once the music started it was soon time for a bit of “Dad dancing” and then the all-important “Dreggs Christmas Raffle” where everything left over from the year is raffled 

off, along with plenty of other nice prizes (42” Plasma TV) to name but a few. This year also included the Mystery bottle bag raffle, a sealed gift bag with a random bottle inside each one, the bags were raffled for £2 each and every bag was a winner (not all were alcoholic, just a bottle) This proved to be our biggest and best fundraisers to date, all combined we raised a staggering £780 to the Poppy appeal.

So, an amazing night to what has ended off an extraordinary year.

Looking ahead to 2020 we are now poised like coiled springs waiting for the warmer weather to arrive so we can get out and about on our bikes, right then…………... so where did I put my thermal linings for my bike jacket!!!!!

Michael “Sam” Price

Beds County Rep


Royal Charter Fun Quiz

The following questions have been obtained from the new Royal Charter, it is purely for fun, why not test your knowledge? Answers are on the next page but try to answer the questions first.

1.Who granted the original Royal Charter and in what year?

2.When was the title changed from “British Legion” to “Royal British Legion”?

3.How long is the minimum that a beneficiary must have served in the Armed Forces?

4.What is the governing body of the Royal British Legion?

5.What is the “rulebook” adopted by the Board of Trustees and the Membership Council, commonly known as?

6.How often does the National President have to be elected?

7.Who has the final say on whether changes to the Royal Charter will come into effect?

8.How many types of membership are there within the Royal British Legion?

9.Who determines the Annual Membership Fees?

10.When appropriate, who appoints Trustees to the Board of Trustees?

11.What may a County Committee delegate not do at Legion Annual Conference?

12.If a Branch makes its own set of Byelaws who is responsible for their approval?

13.Can a current member of Legion staff take on a volunteer Legion position at National or County level and does it need approval?


Quiz Answers

1.King George V on 21/04/1925


3.1 Day

4.Board of Trustees

5.The Membership Handbook

6.He is not elected but appointed the Board of Trustees

7.The ruling Monarch in Council

8.3 – Member, Life Member and Youth Member

9.Annual Conference

10.Board of Trustees


12.County/District Committee

13.Yes, but approval from the Director General must be obtained in advance.

I do hope that you have enjoyed your newsletter and I hope that you will contribute articles of interest so that I can make this, YOUR newsletter as well as mine. Please send contributions to me,

Roger Sparks at:



Roger Sparks