On Saturday, in bright sunshine, Benidorm was once again able to celebrate the official launch of the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal, enjoying, for the first time in two years, the pomp and ceremony that the occasion has missed so much.

Hundreds of veterans from across District North attended the launch parade which, since its inception, has been led by the highly acclaimed Torrevieja Pipes and Drums.  Once again the impressive display strode out along the Levante promenade, standards flowing in the breeze, followed by former servicemen of all nationalities and services, including many members of the RNA, RAAFA and RMA.

The event also resonated among the many spectators along Levante beach, the rousing sound of bagpipes, something not too often seen in the popular resort, sights and sounds that were enthusiastically applauded by the hundreds that lined the route.

Caught up in the occasion, residents and holidaymakers alike stopped to show their support as the immaculately dressed Standard Bearers, marshalled by former Royal Artillery veteran, Jack Kemp,  marched along the route, heads held high as they demonstrated their pride in representing the foremost British Military Charity.

There were even many young bystanders also who were caught up in the occasion as they applauded the parade of ex servicemen marching behind the pipes and drums, once again so ably led by two inmates from the Royal Hospital Chelsea, Arthur “Skippy” Teasdale, now aged 91, and his young minder, Wayne Campbell, a mere stripling 0f 83, both resplendent in their distinctive scarlet uniforms.

Skippy and Wayne, both members of the Orihuela Costa Branch of the RBL, are regular visitors to the area having attended rather more Poppy Launches than many of the members marching on the day.

They were all accompanied by the Mayor of Benidorm, Toni Perez Perez, and other principal guests, Joe Falzon, the Vice Chairman of the RBL, the British Consul in Madrid and Alicante, Sarah-Jane Morris, Captain Ian Clarke RN, Defence Attaché Madrid, Bob Chambers, the RBL Overseas Membership Support Officer and Fiona Hedges, the Overseas Membership Support Officer.

The parade came to a halt at the Rincon de Loix where the Launch Officials took to the stage.  As the Spanish and British National Anthems were played by the Royal British Legion Concert Band, Spain, which had previously been entertaining the sizeable audience, the Standard Bearers stood proudly to attention.

Mr Don Cubbon, attending his final parade as Chairman of District North, was the first to speak, thanking the city of Benidorm for the welcome that it always provides to the Royal British Legion. He spoke of the hard work that his members had carried out over the previous year, which despite being so badly affected by Covid 19, had raised in excess of €75,000

He also emphasised that ALL of the money is used to help ex-servicemen and their dependants here in Spain, in their time of need, mentioning just a few of the 200 cases that had received RBL support in the previous 6 months.

Having spoken of the continual need for fundraising in Spain the District Chairman then went ‘off script’ to call Gandia Branch Member, Katie Jane Matthews to the stage where she was presented with a Branch certificate of Appreciation by Joe Falzon, the RBL Vice Chairman. Mr Falzon thanked Katie for her efforts in raising many hundreds of euros over recent years, citing her as an excellent example of someone who is dedicated to supporting the welfare of others.

Following the interlude the Mayor of Benidorm, Toni Perez then addressed the large audience,  welcoming all participants as he took the stage. He said how delighted he was to host the Launch of the Poppy Appeal once again, highlighting the multicultural and multinational make-up of the city.

He was then presented with an RBL plaque by Don Cubbon, on behalf of the RBL in Spain. The Chairman said that it was given in heartfelt thanks for the support and encouragement that the Ayuntamiento and the people of Benidorm provide to enable the launch of the annual launch of the Poppy Appeal in this wonderful city.

In reply the mayor said that the Royal British Legion “is a role model” and that the organisation can always count on the support and encouragement of his council.

There were further speeches by the RBL Vice Chairman, the Consul and the Defence Attaché, all of which reiterated the outstanding work carried out by the RBL across the world but especially here in Spain where the support network id second to none.

The ceremony ended with rapturous applause as the Standard Bearers and the Torrevieja Pipes and Drums marched off before many dozens of spectators, both English and Spanish, descended on Skippy and Wayne, to pose for photographs.

If you are a veteran visiting or living in Spain and you would like to know more about the Royal British Legion or their activities here in District North, please contact your local Legion branch, details of which can be found at

http://counties.britishlegion.org.uk/counties/spain-north/the-district-its-branches

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