A lifelong dedication to the Legion

Mary has stepped down after 20 years as district secretary.
Mary has stepped down after 20 years as district secretary. / SUR
  • Mary Le Corney's introduction to the RBL in Spain came after an unfortunate accident

On October 9 1987 an article in SUR in English informed of the forthcoming opening of the first branch of the Royal British Legion in Spain.

This year, the Legion will be celebrating its thirtieth year on the coast and it is down to the sheer hard work and determination of certain people who have endeavoured to keep the flag flying.

One of these people is 80-year-old Mary Le Corney, who has recently stepped down as district secretary, a post she has held for over 20 years.

Born in Graves End in Kent, Mary, with her husband Ray, came to Spain for the first time to celebrate their honeymoon in 1962.

In 1985, they decided to come to live in Torremolinos.

Mary comes from a military background, so it was normal for her to have an interest in the Legion; however, her introduction to the RBL on the coast came about under rather unfortunate circumstances.

Following a nasty fall, from which she broke her ankle, Mary spent several days in hospital. It was here that she first learned of the RBL on the Costa del Sol.

"One day, I noticed that the husband of another patient was wearing an RBL badge, so I asked him if he was a member. He informed me that he was the secretary of the Torremolinos branch," Mary told SUR in English.

This was the only introduction Mary needed, because once fit and well, she joined the Torremolinos branch, and she has been an active member ever since.

Mary was soon persuaded to get more involved, taking up the positions of district chairman and district training officer.

For the last twenty years, she has been the chairman of the Torremolinos branch. She has also held the same position in the Benalmádena branch for the last ten years.

However, Mary is quick to point out the tireless work of the officers and other committee members.

"We've had some very good people in the Legion over the years, very hard working people, although they have not always been recognised for their efforts," Mary explained.

Today, the Torremolinos branch has just over 30 members, but when Mary first joined in 1989, there were around 150 members.

"We have struggled to stay alive because we just don't have the people anymore. Members have either returned to the UK, or they have died. We need younger people," Mary said.

Although she is stepping down from the district council, she is not retiring from her duties in local Legion business.

"I have had some wonderful times and I would not give it up for anything," Mary said with passion.

The highlight of her time with the Legion came just four years ago.

The vice-chairman of the district at that time suggested that Mary be presented with a gold badge because of her loyalty to the Legion.

However, the board of trustees had other plans. They had decided to present Mary with life membership; one of the Royal British Legion's most prestigious credits.

"I was absolutely gobsmacked. It was the most outstanding thing to happen as far as I was concerned. It was absolutely phenomenal," Mary said gleefully.

Even though Mary had worked as a teacher for 35 years, she was in no rush to retire when she first arrived in Torremolinos.

"I needed something to do; I couldn't just sit on the beach all day for the rest of my life, and so I joined the Legion. I wouldn't have missed it for the world," she said with conviction.