The Royal British Legion has been caring for members, former members and families, of the Armed Forces Community for almost 100 years and it has rarely faced a greater challenge than that presented by COVID-19, especially here in Spain where calls for assistance have increased significantly.

Although a UK Charity which operates under UK Charity Law, under the umbrella of the Legion’s head office in London, TRBL covers 2 huge areas along the Spanish Costas.  Here in District North we have 15 Branches and about 2500 members from Valencia all the way down past Almeria.

Standards on Parade in Benidorm

In terms of potential beneficiaries the most recent assessment suggests that there are over 6,000 in Spain alone, individuals and their families who could require our support.

Although our branches actually fundraise all year round the main focus of our fundraising is at this time of year with the Poppy Appeal, close to 11th November, during the period leading up to Remembrance Sunday.

The money we raise here in Spain supports beneficiaries in Spain during the following year, at a rate of about €20k a month. Last year we raised just short of €157k and we are well on our way to using that to support those in need, with extra funds being topped up, if required, from the main deposit in UK.

Normandy veteran Joe Billlett with partner Rose

In previous years the Poppy Appeal Launch, traditionally held on the middle Friday of October, has been held amid much pomp and ceremony on the Levante Promenade in Benidorm but, regrettably, this year’s launch will have to be a much smaller affair.

It will however still go ahead in Benidorm at 12.00 on Friday, 16th October, but it will take place in the Town Hall square, Plaza de SS.MM. los Reyes de España.

It will be a short, static Act of Remembrance, with only limited participation, who will be socially distanced and wearing masks. Unfortunately it will not be open to the public.

During a short but poignant a ceremony, which will be videoed and shown online, there will be a static Parade of Standards followed by a Wreath Laying Ceremony involving the mayor of Benidorm, Toni Perez and the Chairman of Spain District North, Don Cubbon.

A bugler from TRBL Concert Band Spain will sound the last post and the Torrevieja Pipes and Drums will be represented by a lone piper.

The mayor of Benidorm receiving an RBL citation at the 2019 event

The event will serve to underline the proud traditions of The Royal British Legion here in Spain which will live on despite COVID-19.

It will also mark the start of the Annual Poppy Appeal from which every euro donated will make a huge difference to someone’s quality of life.

We know that many people are going through tough times themselves and we’re grateful to everyone who can contribute.  However much or little you can afford, I can assure you that it will put it to good use by supporting our beneficiaries here in Spain!