Royal British Legion told it must learn to blow its own trumpet

Royal British Legion representatives in Torremolinos
Royal British Legion representatives in Torremolinos / Tony Bryant
  • The Spain South district held its AGM last week, but it was not all good news for the branches in this area

The Royal British Legion Spain South district held its annual conference in Torremolinos on Thursday last week.

The meeting was attended by members of RBL branches in Gibraltar, Marbella, Coín, Benalmádena, Torremolinos, Alhaurín el Grande and Mollina.

The event, which was held at the Pablo Picasso Cultural Centre, began with a parade of the district and branch standards.

Reverend Doreen Cage presided over the opening prayers, followed by the swearing in of the new district president, Neal Toplis, managing director of City FM Radio.

The congregation was also informed of the news that Mary and Ray Le Corney, from the Torremolinos branch, were stepping down after serving on the district committee for more than twenty years.

One of the many items on the agenda was the lack of adequate publicity and the misguided image of the RBL in southern Spain.

Brian Turner, chairman of the South district, suggested that more could be done by individual branches, adding that the legion "really, really, must be better at blowing its own trumpet".

In his address, Turner claimed that some people think the RBL is only about "old men in blazers". He advised members to take a long, hard look at ways of improving the conception of the RBL in Spain.

"I am not criticising a branch in any shape or form, but the future of the RBL District South is in your hands," the chairman said.

His comments were reiterated by Rob Bedford, representative of the Membership Council for Overseas Branches and Districts. He warned that the southern district could become annexed to the northern district if action was not taken.

Two branches of the legion closed in southern Spain in 2015, and last year the Torre del Mar branch was temporarily shut down. This branch is now operating under the auspices of the Los Romanes branch.

However, both the chairman and Rob Bedford were quick to point out that all branches in southern Spain are upholding the standards of the Royal British Legion. The southern branches were commended for their outstanding fundraising efforts during the last Poppy Appeal.

The district secretary said, "It is a credit to the branches and members of Spain South, because, although we have lost branches, the 2016 Poppy Appeal raised over 69,000 euros."

Other good news is that the RBL in Spain has plans to open two new branches in the near future. These will be in Casabermeja and Duquesa.

Brian Turner said, "If we pull together we can achieve our aim and continue to administer, and support, the delivery of welfare services to the RBL branches throughout southern Spain."