poppy field


A short history of Toddington Royal British Legion.

The British Legion was started in 1921 after the Great war. However, the Toddington Branch of the British Legion was formed in 1939 at the outset of World War Ⅱ by the women of the village, to look after the children of servicemen who were away fighting for their country. The children would gather at the Old Town Hall on the village green, in front of St Georges Church, some of the children would sleep on camp beds on the first floor, the chairwoman was Mrs. Affleck, the women’s branch continued until 1952.

After a gap of 8 years, in 1960, the Toddington Branch of The British Legion was reformed with a new Standard. The chairman was Mr. George Walker, other founding members were, Mr. Stan Stanley, Mr. Peter Denny, Mr. Frank Preston, Mr. Arthur Jeffries, and Mr. Jim Ward, who was the standard bearer. Mr. Jim Aries then replaced Jim Ward as standard bearer; Jim Aries passed away recently and is sadly missed as are all these gentlemen who are no longer with us. 

The President for many years was Mr. Simpson who had a shoe shop on the village green, the committee meetings would be held in the various pubs in the village.

In 1971 Queen Elizabeth Ⅱ gave the British Legion their Royal charter and we became, “The Royal British Legion”. In 1980 Mr. George Day took over as standard bearer, this was to be one of many roles George would undertake in his 35 years as a committee member of the Toddington Branch of the RBL. George retired as a committee member recently but remains a valued member of the branch.

In 1996 Mr. Bob Hazel became chairman, in 2008 a new standard was issued for the Toddington branch. The original standard still hangs in St Georges Church but the previous standard to the one used today hangs in Chalgrave church along with the standards of the Luton and Dunstable branches.

In 2014 to 2018 Toddington had a new beacon installed on the village green near the water pump, the RBL marked the centenary of World War Ⅰ along with different events around the country which included the Lighting of the Toddington village beacon on 11th November 2018.

In 2018 our standard was paraded by our Standard Bearer Ms Pippa Brazier in ‘Ypres’ Belgium for the 90th Anniversary of the great pilgrimage, this was a government sponsored travel scheme in 1928 to the Somme battlefields for the families of those that lost loved ones there, our Standard now displays the Ypres 2018 yellow ribbon.

In November 2017 Mr. Adrian Purser (Chairman) and Mr. Roy Baker (Secretary) were replaced by Mr. Harvey Silver as Chairman and Mr. John Wood as Secretary on 12th December 2017, the branch saw a revival with the new committee that was appointed, we also increased our membership, we installed a bespoke “Lest We Forget” bench on the village green.

On 21st September 2021 Harvey Silver was replaced as chairman by John Wood who was also acting Secretary until Ms Kelly Grumoli took over the secretaries’ role on 30th November 2021.

In 2020 we were preparing to celebrate 75th Anniversary of the end of World War Ⅱ but had to cancel this along with our remembrance services as the world tried to cope with the Covid 19 Pandemic.

The following years have been a challenge for all, and we have adjusted to a new way of doing things, we continue to work to support and help ex-servicemen and women, we also keep the Royal British Legion in the thoughts of the Toddington community with events to mark the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth Ⅱ in 2022 and the Coronation of King Charles Ⅲ in 2023.

Sadly, in August 2022 we lost our president Mr John Bryant.

John joined the Toddington Branch on 6th December 2012 and was appointed President on 11th February 2014, John will be sorely missed.

We have installed a memorial bench in his memory on the village green Adjacent to the Toddington village sign.

Reverend Nigel Washington then became the new branch president in November 2022 

In 2021 the Royal British Legion celebrated its 100th birthday and we are still focused on its goals.  Let us hope with kind support we can continue to honour and support our servicemen and women and offer assistance to all who serve and have served in the defence of our great country.

Written by Graeme Kelly