The Annual General meeting of the Royal British Legion, District North Spain, held rather more significance this year, as it saw a handover of Chairmen, with, after 5 years at the helm, Don Cubbon passing the reins to Alicante Branch member, Jack Kemp.
Jack, of course, is no stranger to the District Committee, holding until very recently, two posts, those of Poppy Appeal Coordinator and Parade Marshall.
With the welcome to guests and opening remarks done, the RBL Patron in Spain, Her Majesty’s Ambassador, Hugh Elliott, was the first to address the virtual meeting, in which he thanked the outgoing chairman for his tireless efforts and his excellent direction during his 5 years in post.
He said how much he was looking forward to working with Jack Kemp before moving on to congratulate the District Community Support Co-Ordinator, Pamela Twissell Cross, on her award of the MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List.
He commented on the wonderful work carried out by Pam and her team in support of the hundreds of beneficiaries who had needed RBL assistance during the last 12 months.
David Whimpenny, an RBL Trustee and Chairman of the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire, was the next to speak, reporting on events, activities and achievements held during 2021, the centenary year, including the ‘Telling our story’ campaign and the creation of a digital record by members from across the entire Legion.
He spoke of the rebranding exercise which was needed to reach our younger supporters, fundraising, welfare support, the national care homes, a £6 million donation to Combat Stress, as well as branch support in the community, which he said had been provided to over 30,000 people in 31 countries, and included over 10,000 grants.
The Chairman, Don Cubbon, followed with his annual report in which he thanked members for their efforts. He spoke of the outstanding work carried out by community support and the tireless exertions of the District’s caseworkers. He thanked the RBL Concert Band in Spain for their efforts, along with the Torrevieja Pipes and Drums.
Don highlighted events, the Poppy Appeal Launch in Benidorm, Armed Forces Day in Orihuela Cathedral and the inauguration of the new Memorial in Alicante, saying how each of them had been excellent showpieces for the RBL in Spain during 2021.
After the treasurer reported on District Finances the Community Support Co-ordinator, Pam Twissell-Cross outlined the efforts and achievements of her caseworkers, together with the allocation of over €120k to people and families in need, here in Spain.
With over 30,000 veterans able to call on the support of the RBL in the District, she appealed for volunteer caseworkers and telephone buddies to supplement her team, which is increasingly being called upon, particularly by people living inland. She said that a full time support worker is now essential in Spain and that she has approached the RBL in London with a request.
There followed an announcement of extensions or additions to the District Committee which included Pamela Twissell- Cross, Susan Shaw, Paul Franks, John Watson and Kevin Reardon, after which the long awaited declaration of the total achieved during the 2021 Poppy Appeal Campaign was made by the PAO, Jack Kemp.
Jack first gave his thanks to all branches for their unbelievable support and enthusiasm. He singled out St Georges Church in Barcelona, Tina Graham in Menorca and Fiona and Jade in London for their particular help in achieving the magnificent sum of €119,835.02, an increase of over €34k from the previous 12 months.
He said that he was absolutely delighted that the community had been able to raise such a marvellous amount, in a year that had seen movement continue to be so severely curtailed.
Business then turned to the annual awards and accolades to those supporters, members and branches that had provided exceptional service.
First to be presented were the Chairman’s Citations to members who had provided outstanding service. They were Christine Walden, Maria Bryant, Geoffrey Thomas, Jean Heald, Malcolm Cavendish, Jonathan Knight, Mark Knight, Anthony Edmunds, Pamela Dawes and Pamela Wilding
This was followed by The Fallen Hero Award, to the branch showing the highest percentage increase in Poppy Appeal collection per member, which went to the Javea Branch. 2nd Hondon Valley. 3rd Orihuela Costa & District.
The Recruiting Kukri was next, awarded to the Branch with the largest membership increase. The recipient was the Alicante Branch. 2nd Gran Alacant & La Marina Branch. 3rd Murcia Branch.
The Chairman’s Bugle, awarded to the Branch which has made the greatest advances in furthering the aims and objectives of the Legion, was presented to the Alicante Branch. 2nd Javea. 3rd Orihuela Costa & District.
The formal transfer of the Chairman’s jewel was then overseen from Antwerp by the Overseas Member of the Membership Council, Bob Chambers, as Don Cubbon made his final farewell before handing the chairmanship to Jack Kemp.