Our Poppy Appeal in Chipping Norton kicked off on 23rd October when our two youth members Leila Atkins and Annalise Kingsford took part in the Swanbourne Endeavour 5km mud run. Between them they raised £250 for the Appeal.Well done girls.

 

On Saturday 4th November we were out in force in the town centre in our brand new eye-catching gazebo. We were assisted by cadets from 136 Squadron Chipping Norton Air Training Corps. Their enthusiasm and impeccable behaviour endeared them to us all and we are very proud to be associated with them. They helped us raise over £1,500 in the town on Saturday. Our collectors were once again able to enjoy free beverages courtesy of Café Nero, our thanks to them.


In the afternoon we were entertained by our Legion sweetheart Lula May, who performed songs from the 1940s on the town hall steps. A bucket collection while she was singing netted £238, thank you Lula, we look forward to seeing you again next year.

As Armistice Day fell on a Saturday this year, we held a special service for the year 6 children from the Holy Trinity Primary School. The children laid crosses, one for each man from the Second World War on the war memorial they have been studying the war this term. They then said prayers and poems they had written themselves and laid a wreath on behalf of the school. It was a very moving event and we hope to have a special schools Remembrance service again next year and include the town’s other schools if possible.

We gathered at the War Memorial at 1045 for our annual Amistice Day service on Saturday 11th. It was a very good turnout and  the Chairman welcomed everyone and related the stories of two of those who died 100 years ago in 1917. Charles Joines was the oldest man on the war memorial, he died on the home front whilst his son Edward died at the Third Battle of Ypres. Prayers were then said by Father Tony Joyce and our President Linda Maia e Silva recited the ode, her first public performance.

 

After our President had recited the Kohima Epitaph and thanked everyone for coming we buzzed Over Norton  to carry out an act of Remembrance in front of their War Memorial. This was a nice little touch, despite the Chairman trying to do the service in reverse order. Then back to our HQ for a much needed pint of their Daleside Poppy Ale ( Well I needed  it). Then we made our annual pilgrimage to the beautiful setting of Little Rissington. The Mayor and Linda came along for the first time as did our buglers Kim and Emma from the Shires Youth Band, kindly extending their stay with us. There we met the Vicar, Christopher Etherton and our Air cadets. We were also privileged to meet family members of Sergeant Baz Barwood of the RAF who had just laid a cross on his grave. Sergeant Barwood died in Iraq in 2008 and was known to both Peter Clarke and Tjark Andrews. His family stayed on to witness our act of Remembrance and were touched by what we did.  After the Vicar had welcomed us the cadets laid crosses on the graves on the airmen who had died in and around Chipping Norton and on the grave of one of their own Cadet 1st Class Kenny Stone who had died on a flight experience sortie, aged only 16.

 

After this it was back to Chipping Norton to carry on with  our Poppy collecting duties.

However with the stand being manned by Gill and Tracey, below, assisted by Gareth we felt we would be better off drinking Poppy Ale in the Crown and Cushion as a proportion of every pint drunk goes to the Appeal.

 

Thanks go to all our volunteers who turned out to collect for the Poppy Appeal.


Remembrance Sunday dawned bright but cold and our parade grows bigger each year. We marched down to the church, pausing to lay a wreath on the 1942 air crash memorial. The service was moving and the church packed. An addition to this years service was the singing of “No Man’s Land” by Chipping Norton School student and member of “The Accidentals” brass ensemble, Arianne Bennett, accompanied by Chris Brown on the piano. This was a beautiful rendition of a very poignant song about a visit to a world War One graveyard, and we thank them both.

We marched back to the town hall where  the Deputy Lieutenant, the Mayor  and other dignitaries took the salute. Having been told there would not be a police presence on the parade we were surprised to see several officers on duty. They had in fact given up their day off to help us, unpaid, and we are tremendously grateful to them. We also thank all those who acted as marshals on the day.

 

We faced the Town Hall steps to be addressed by Linda, our President on her first Remembrance Sunday. In an interesting speech she reflected on the 100th Anniversary of Women at War and on the work the Legion carries out for our Armed Service Community past, present and future. The Mayor, Mike Tysoe spoke of the events in 1917 and made the point that Remembrance was not just about the two World Wars, but also later later conflicts, citing our chance meeting with the family of Baz Barwood.

 

 

 

After the Remembrance Sunday parade we adjourned to the Town Hall for refreshments. Three presentation were made, firstly to our Deputy Lord Lieutenant David Astor, who is retiring from his post. David has shown us unstinting support in all the various commemorations we have undertaken and we presented him with an engraved tankard in appreciation of his support.

 

 

Our next presentation was to our past President, now vice President Neville Edwards. Neville has served on our committee since the 1970s and has embodied our motto of service before self. We applied for one of the highest honours a branch member can be given, the gold badge. This was ratified by the National Chairman of the RBL and we were delighted to present Neville with this well deserved honour.  

 

 

Our last presentation was to Cecily Mauder who has been selling poppies for 25 years and arranging the flowers on the pedestal in the church for longer. We presented her with 25 year Poppy badges  to mark this wonderful service to our cause.

 

The company were then left to enjoy the refreshments including free Hooky bitter kindly donated by Hook Norton brewery.