The Legion was founded by veterans after the First World War. A century on from the start of that conflict, we're still helping today's Service men and women, veterans, and their families in almost every aspect of daily life.
We also champion Remembrance, safeguarding the memory of those who have given their lives for our freedom through Remembrance education and events.
The British Legion was formed on 15 May 1921, bringing together four national organisations of ex-Servicemen that had established themselves after the First World War.
The main purpose of the Legion was straightforward: to care for those who had suffered as a result of service in the Armed Forces during the war, whether through their own service or through that of a husband, father or son. The suffering took many forms: the effect of a war wound on a man's ability to earn a living and support his family, or a war widow's struggle to give her children an education.
Even those who had come through the war relatively unscathed struggled with employment. As a result of the war, Britain's economy plummeted and in 1921 there were two million unemployed. Over six million men had served in the war - 725,000 never returned. Of those who came back, 1.75 million had suffered some kind of disability and half of these were permanently disabled. Added to this figure were the families who depended on those who had gone to war - the wives and children, widows and orphans as well as the parents who had lost sons in the war, who often contributed to the household income.
The situation so moved Lancastrian Lance Bombardier Tom Lister, that he decided that if the government was either unable or unwilling to do anything to improve the lives of ex-Servicemen, he would do something about it himself. This eventually led to the formation of The British Legion.
When the Legion's leaders looked around them, they saw the gigantic task of looking after those who had suffered in the recent war and also the need to prevent further sacrifice by reminding the nation of the human cost of war and to work actively for peace.
By the time of the Legion's formation in 1921, the tradition of an annual Two Minute Silence in memory of the dead had been established. The first ever Poppy Appeal was held that year, with the first Poppy Day on 11 November 1921.
We were granted 'Royal' status in 1971, and extended our membership to serving members of Her Majesty's Armed Forces, as well as ex-Service personnel, in 1981. Now, anyone can become a member of The Royal British Legion. We welcome men and women of all ages, whether they have served in the Armed Forces or not, to continue the work that was begun nearly 100 years ago.
The Royal British Legion provides lifelong support for the Armed Forces community - serving men and women, veterans, and their families.
Most people think of the Royal British Legion as the people who just organise the Remembrance Parades and the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall every year. They produce and sell the "poppy", they are the people that you see every year outside Sainsburys, etc.
But the Royal British Legion does so much more than that! Here are just a few examples of what we do:
The Legion established and operates The Battle Back Centre, to support wounded, injured and sick Service personnel. The Centre exists to help people achieve their best possible recovery and either return to Service duty or to make a smooth transition to civilian life. The Battle Back Centre is an Army-led Centre that is funded and delivered by The Royal British Legion.
Personnel Recovery Centres (PRCs), form a major part of the Ministry of Defence-led Defence Recovery Capability. The initiative is delivered in partnership with The Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes, with support from other Service charities and organisations. It's designed to assist wounded, injured and sick Service personnel to recover and either return to duty or move successfully into civilian life.
The Legion's handy van service, Poppy Calls, helps ex-Service people and their families with small household repairs and minor adaptations. If you're having trouble with those small household repairs and minor adaptations around your home and are one of our beneficiaries, The Royal British Legion can provide our handy van service.
The Legion has six care homes to provide short and long term care for serving and ex-Service people and their dependants. Situated around the country, they offer a wide range of services including four with specialist dementia care.
The Legion works with Dementia UK to provide Admiral Nurses - a service that supports the carers of our beneficiaries who have dementia. The focus of the service is to maintain independence and improve the quality of life for carers and families and to provide the practical advice they need.
The Legion provides specialist compensation advice, help with debt and emergency situations, and support through grants and loans. We help to ease the burden of financial pressure for thousands of Service and ex-Service people every year.
We help members of the Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force, veterans and their families all year round. We also campaign to improve their lives, organise the Poppy Appeal and remember the fallen.
Many people incorrectly think that you must be "Ex-Services" to join the Royal British Legion, and drink in the Social Club. Whilst historically most of the members were ex-services (stemming back to National Service days), there is no requirement. EVERYBODY is welcome to join!
Here in Arborfield, we have a thriving Social Club, with entertainment most nights of the week and organised events being held on a regular basis.
The Arborfield and Barkham Branch are proud to organise the Remembrance Day Service held at Arborfield Cross, which is always well attended as it is one of the few parades locally that have the facility to be able to march to the memorial.
In 2018, we will commemorate the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, which we hope will be a huge day within the community and we would love you to be involved in supporting it.
New members are always welcome and, if you would like to know more, just pop in to the Social Club during opening hours, to find out more! Or simply follow the link here to join.