Last Sunday was Remembrance Day and I joined many others attending services in both Hayle and Illogan. Last year, the lockdown meant that parades and services could not be held so it was good to see such a strong attendance return again this year on the 100th Anniversary of Remembrance Sunday. Once again local Cadets, Scouts, Brownies and other youth groups like the Illogan Football Club and Hayle Life Saving Club were out in force.
This year also marks the 100th year since the creation of the Royal British Legion, which was first created in May 1921 as a voice for the ex-service community- incorporating several other organisations that were created following the end of the First World War. The organisation was granted a royal charter in 1925 and has enjoyed consistent patronage from members of the Royal family ever since.
The scale of sacrifice in our country is apparent through the names listed on memorial stones up and down the land and both the First and Second World Wars and all the wars since touched every community and virtually every family. I take one of my Christian names from Charles Botterell, my Great Grandfather who fought in the First World War and suffered ill health as a result of his shrapnel wounds. At the service in Hayle, the names of the fallen from the town in each of the world wars were read out which was powerful but drove home the scale of loss.
The Royal British Legion is best known, aside from Remembrance Day, for creating the Poppy Appeal. The red poppy was chosen as the flowers grew quickly in the war-torn region of Northern France and Belgium. The poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ refers to the poppies growing among the graves of fallen soldiers. Ever since, the flower has been a symbol of remembrance for many, showing that the individual has chosen to give a donation to the Royal British Legion and support their vital work for those that have served in our country’s armed forces.
Charities such as the Royal British Legion, or others such as Help for Heroes or Combat Stress, play a vital role in our country supporting veterans and highlighting issues such as PTSD or other mental health conditions resulting from serving in combat. The issues they highlight directly led to the government establishing the Office of Veterans Affairs in 2019 and the Prime Minister giving the clear commitment to make this the best country in the world for veterans to live in. I firmly believe that it is our duty to ensure that those who served our country continue to receive the very best possible care.
We also have a number of local veterans’ groups that do good work supporting former service personnel including Turn to Starboard, Surf Action and Active Plus. These charities do vital work with those suffering from the effects of PTSD, physical injury or who have difficulty re-adjusting to civilian life. This gives the veterans a chance to take up new activities and learn new skills; be that circumnavigating oceans or learning to surf alongside men and women who have shared similar experiences and trauma.