Call to arms to save RBL branch

Members of the Knaresborough Branch of the Royal British Legion are planning major events to mark 100 years of the organisation.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 3:10 pm

A host of commemorations, including a field of poppies and lamppost decorations, will take place in the coming weeks, despite the branch being under threat of fading out of existence.

Vice chairman David Houlgate explained: “As we do all this, there is a real danger that the Branch in Knaresborough may not see out another five years, let alone another 100.

“The Branch is now down to just a handful of active members and needs more to sustain itself.

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“The concern is that the Knaresborough ‘standard’ that is strikingly visible at Remembrance events and the annual Remembrance parade through the town, will have to be laid up if new members cannot be found.”

Following the disprution of Covid-19, the Knaresborough Branch of the Royal British Legion has big plans to mark this year’s Remembrance commemoration that marks the 100th anniversary of the RBL.

“The iconic Knaresborough Castle will be like you’ve never seen it before,” added Mr Houlgate.

“The Branch launched it’s Knit 4 Knaresborough project in February 2019 with the aim of building each year to the RBL centenary in 2021, a unique art installation at an on the famous landmark.

“Since then between 28,000 and 30,000 knitted/crocheted poppies have been made and received by the Branch from local Women’s Institutes, local craft groups and individuals who have spent hundreds of hours sewing the donated poppies onto preplanned designs.

“All being well these will be installed at the historic 12th century Knaresborough castle from Tuesday November 2, with the help of Harrogate Borough Council.”

Large scale silhouette figures of the classic British ‘Tommy’ and modern service personnel will also be displayed along with that of a dog, to commemorate the sacrifice animals have played in the service of their country.

And Mr Houlgate said that Five Knaresborough primary schools are working on creating 1,500 field poppies made from recycling petals from last year’s memorial wreaths. The children will be creating their Field of Poppies at the Castle grounds on Wednesday November 10.

The Branch is also aiming to install lamppost poppies and flags around the market town and window decals, available form HA Garments printing and vinyl, which raising money for this year’s Poppy appeal.

Mr Houlgate added a familiar sight would greet people: “As Covid-19 restrictions ease, our collectors are back out in their communities to raise vital funds for the RBL’s Poppy Appeal.

“Our collectors have been at the heart of the Poppy Appeal in local communities for over 100 years and as we mark the RBL centenary we are celebrating their contribution.”

The Knaresborough Branch is seeking volunteers to help sell poppies at Lidl and Marks & Spencers in Knaresborough.

Anyone who can spare some time should please ring Branch Chair, Alan Pitchfork on 07984700429.