Belated centenary celebrations for Eastbourne’s Royal British Legion branch planned

Eastbourne councillors have welcomed the 100th anniversary of the town’s branch of the Royal British Legion. 

Thursday, 18th November 2021, 5:14 pm
Josh Babarinde OBE, mayor Pat Rohohan, and chairman Alan Leith with Eastbourne RBL members

On Wednesday (November 17), Eastbourne Borough Council unanimously agreed a cross-party motion paying tribute to the organisation and offering the authority’s support to its activities. 

The motion comes after the branch relaunched after a short break to appoint a new leadership team. 

The meeting saw the branch’s new chairman Allan Leith tell councillors about some of the Eastbourne RBL’s plans for the future – including a belated centenary celebration next year.

Mr Leith, an ex-serviceman, said: “The branch has not been able to celebrate its 100th anniversary this year in 2021, but it is one of our first priorities to arrange a centenary celebration during the summer months of 2022, much like the Olympic Games did. 

“The motion if passed tonight will bring the support needed to make a success of it.

“We also intend to have a recruitment drive to attract new members by making it known that you don’t have to have served in Armed Forces to join the Royal British Legion.

“The drive will target all that have helped the Armed Forces community; from medical staff to poppy collection volunteers to family and friends.”

The motion was passed on a cross-party basis, having been put forward by Liberal Democrat Josh Babarinde and seconded by Conservative Colin Belsey.

Both spoke of their family connections to the armed forces, with Cllr Belsey paying tribute to his father, brother and daughter and Cllr Babarinde to his great-grandfather Flight Lieutenant Thomas Gittins, who served in the Second World War.

In a statement released after the meeting, Cllr Babarinde said:  “Like every war hero I have ever known, he was intensely humble about his achievements. 

“Too humble to say that bravery like his contributed to preservation of our democracy.

“Too humble to accept that service like his means that Eastbourne borough councillors — including his great-grandson —can continue to be democratically elected to govern our town.

“Like many war heroes though the atrocity of war took its toll on his mental health as he transitioned back to civilian life. Isolated from his fellow veterans break downs ensued in later life and troubled him, although he powered through as best he could.

“Today we would recognise that as combat stress or some of the complex conditions that Alan referenced in his speech.

“Today, among many other things,  the Royal British Legion performs an incredible service by providing hands on mental health support to help veterans who need extra support. “

Cllr Babarinde went on to encourage residents to join the RBL.

To find out how go to www.britishlegion.org.uk