Notes from the Editor

 

“Our Man”

New Tweets and Facebook Posts Added                       

  • 10000 to March Past The Cenotaph         

  • Shrouds of the Somme News                               

  • Veterans Gateway First Anniversary

  • Invictus Games News

  • “Count Them In” Campaign Update

  • Northamptonshire Celebrates Armed Forces Covenant Success

     

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     Magazine links           Pathfinder Magazine          Legion Magazine

     St James’s Branch is part of the National Branches District, click the link to       find out more. 


     

     New events added for 2018/19

 


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   Festival of Remembrance

   Current information link for St James’s Branch Members at FoR Special         Circular 2018 and FoR 2018 FAQ’s

   Royal British Legion Website Information Pages


 

10,000 to march past the Cenotaph

10,000 people will march past the Cenotaph on 11 November in ‘A Nation’s Thank you – The People’s Procession’.

  • Ballot launched yesterday for members of the public to apply
  • UK government, supported by the German government, invite nations to participate in international bell ringing to replicate the national outpouring of relief that took place at the end of the war

Spontaneous

Ten thousand members of the public will be invited to march past the Cenotaph to mark the centenary of the Armistice later this year, Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright announced today. Descendants, family members and the public are invited to apply to take part in ‘A Nation’s Thank you – The People’s Procession’ on Sunday 11 November 2018. At the same time, people are being encouraged to ring bells around the world, as the government is seeking to replicate the spontaneous outpouring of relief that took place in 1918. As news of the Armistice spread, church bells, which had fallen silent across the UK during the First World War, rang out in celebration.

Sacrifice

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said:

On the centenary of the Armistice, it is right that we come together to give thanks to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and those who returned home to help shape the world we live in today.

The 11th of November offers us a unique opportunity to show our appreciation for the generation who gave so much to secure this hard fought victory. I encourage everyone, whatever their connection to the First World War, to apply to participate in the People’s Procession and join in with the bell ringing programme to help us mark this historic occasion.

This will be a fitting conclusion to the four year commemorations of the centenary of the First World War and will ensure the stories from this important period of our history are passed down to future generations.

Peoples Procession

Bell ringing and the People’s Procession will take place after the conclusion of The Royal British Legion’s Veteran Dispersal and March Past the Cenotaph, which follows the National Service of Remembrance on 11 November 2018, the centenary of the end of the First World War. The People’s Procession will provide an opportunity for those taking part to give thanks to all those who served in the First World War to secure the victory that helped shape the rights and privileges we enjoy today.

Members of the public are invited to apply for tickets for the People’s Procession through a ballot. Ten thousand tickets are available and will be allocated in pairs. The procession will march down Whitehall where successful applicants will be able to lay wreaths at the Cenotaph. Bell ringing and the People’s Procession both form part of the national commemoration events for the centenary of the Armistice in London and will be followed by a service at Westminster Abbey in the evening.

Members of the public with questions about the Ballot can contact armisticeprocession@culture.gov.uk


 

Veteran’s Gateway Celebrates First Anniversary

The Veterans’ Gateway, the 24-hour service that helps former servicemen and women to navigate their new lives as civilians, has recorded over 10,000 enquiries and 183,420 website users since its launch, one year ago today. Designed to offer a one-stop shop through which veterans can access advice on a vast range of areas, from housing to health concerns, the Veterans’ Gateway has seen over 37,000 click-throughs to external sites, with the majority of users requesting advice on finance. With requests coming from as far afield as Thailand, South Africa and St Maarten in the Caribbean, the service caters to veterans of all ages and backgrounds. 81% of users are under 65 years old, and 56% of web visitors access the site via mobile phones.

Committed

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

We are committed to delivering for our veterans, and the Veterans’ Gateway is making sure those who served our country are getting the support they and their families need.

This £2m project has helped 10,000 ex-service men and women in its first year, making the transition between service and civilian life as smooth as possible.

Every day our troops and veterans inspire our nation and it is right we deliver for them in return for the sacrifices they have made.

Experience

Minister for Defence People and Veterans Tobias Ellwood today visited the Veterans’ Gateway service centre near Cardiff in South Wales. He met with veterans who now work as call handlers, using their experiences in the Armed Forces to benefit others, and giving back to the service community.

Minister for Defence People and Veterans Tobias Ellwood said:

The vast majority of veterans go on to live healthy and fulfilling lives, and most find employment within six months of leaving the military. But we need to offer support to those who find the transition more challenging.

I’m proud to see the great work that goes on behind the scenes of the Veterans’ Gateway, and I’ve been inspired by the community spirit of all who dedicate their time and knowledge to supporting those in need.

Consortium

The 24-hour service is delivered by a Royal British Legion-led consortium with Poppyscotland, Combat Stress, Connect Assist, the Ministry of Defence and SSAFA, the Armed Forces Charity.

Charles Byrne, Director General of The Royal British Legion, on behalf of the Veterans’ Gateway consortium, said:

The number of people contacting the Veterans’ Gateway continues to grow and we are reaching new groups of people including young veterans who need our support in finding the right information, advice and help.

We have also seen increasing numbers of users being able to self-refer and gain better access to the services available to them. The Veterans’ Gateway can become a key resource for veterans and their families seeking support. With over 30 referral partners, it is truly a team of teams.


 

GBBF to raise funds for Royal British Legion

The organisers of the Great British Beer Festival have partnered with the Royal British Legion to say ‘Thank You’ to the First World War generation who served, sacrificed and changed our world.

The collective cheers will take place on Wednesday, August 8 — a significant date that marks exactly 100 days until Remembrance Sunday. The group ‘cheers’ is part of a wider campaign run by the Royal British Legion to remember the 1.2 million British and Commonwealth Armed Forces personnel who lost their lives, those who played a part on the home front, and those who returned to build a better life for generations to come.

The Great British Beer Festival has chosen the Royal British Legion as its charity partner to raise both awareness of the Thank You campaign and much-needed funding for military personnel and veterans.

‘Thank You’ campaign

All Royal British Legion members can enjoy discounted entry to the festival throughout the week. Surplus beer tokens will be donated to the charity’s causes, and collection tins will be present across all of the 30 bars at the festival.

Festival organiser, Catherine Tonry, said: “We are looking forward to supporting the Royal British Legion with their Thank You campaign this summer. Having tens of thousands of visitors to the festival under one roof provides a unique opportunity to raise a collective glass to a generation that shaped our society and to thank them for their service.”

Mark Bishop, from the Royal British Legion, added: “We would like to thank CAMRA for choosing the Royal British Legion as their partner charity for The Great British Beer Festival this year. We look forward to raising a glass with everyone to say Thank You and raise funds to continue our work supporting the Armed Forces community and their families.”


 

Ministry of Defence must uphold the Forces’ Covenant

30 June 2018

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) must show that it has learned the lessons of the lamentable record, in managing Service accommodation, of CarillionAmey, Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) and the Ministry itself. So says the Defence Committee in its latest report, published on the 2018 Armed Forces Day, into the Armed Forces Covenant. (The Covenant expresses the moral obligation that the Government owes to those who serve or have served in our Armed Forces, and to their families.)

It is clear to the Committee that the accommodation contract was ‘not fit for purpose’ and it is unacceptable that there are no enforcement measures that can be imposed on CarillionAmey for their shortcomings. In addition, the MoD’s agreement with Annington Homes has proved to be a disastrous failure and has exposed the Department to considerable risk. That flawed agreement is yet another example from which the MoD, the DIO, and wider Government—especially the Treasury—must quickly learn lessons.

Mark Francois MP comments

Mark Francois MP, Defence Committee member and former infantryman, says:

“For years, Service personnel have received a sub-standard accommodation service from the Defence Infrastructure Organisation and their contractors. This has gone on long enough and simply has to change. The DIO is a frankly dysfunctional organisation and the Committee is now calling on MoD Ministers to get a grip—and come up with a radical action plan to reform the DIO and show Service personnel and their families that they are indeed valued and will be treated as such in the future.”

The Committee is asking the MoD to show how it will learn lessons from the appalling accommodation story and how it will apply them to future contracts. Failure to improve the maintenance of Service accommodation will have a major adverse impact on recruitment and retention in the Armed Forces.

1% pay cap

If the MoD retains the 1% pay cap for Service personnel while other departments increase their pay, it will undermine morale and have an increased negative effect on recruitment and retention. While the Government has signalled that there is some flexibility for departments to move away from the public sector pay cap of 1%, it seems that no additional funding will be made available to the MoD to pay for increases above this level for Service personnel.

Chair’s comments

Chairman of the Defence Committee, Julian Lewis MP, says:

“It would be disgraceful if our Service people missed out on an increase in pay while they watched others who work for the Government receive pay awards. What kind of message does that send to soldiers about how much we value the difficult and sometimes dangerous job that they do?”

The Veterans Board

The report welcomes the creation of a new Veterans Board, even though it lacks formal Cabinet Sub-Committee status. The Committee calls for the status of the Veterans Board and the frequency of its meetings to be kept under review so momentum is not lost in terms of its work.

The Armed Forces Covenant is a UK-wide commitment and the report is therefore asking the Government to ensure the full participation of the devolved administrations in its governance. Therefore, the report calls for the devolved administrations to have full-member representation on the Veterans Board. This would provide an opportunity for best practice from every area of the UK to be shared and adopted, leading to better co-ordination and delivery of the Covenant across the country.

As a priority, the Veterans Board must develop the appropriate mechanisms to hold Government departments to account within their areas of responsibility. As a first step in focusing each department’s work on the Covenant and veterans’ issues, the report calls for relevant Government departments to include a section in their Annual Reports and Accounts on how they have discharged their responsibilities for these matters.

War Widows

The Committee was concerned to hear that war widows and widowers believe that they are at risk of being forgotten and that they have been neglected for a long time. The MoD must do whatever it has to in order to reverse this view. The Government should urgently address the concerns raised that a War Widow’s Pension is often incorrectly perceived as a benefit rather than compensation for loss of a spouse or partner. If it were treated as compensation—as it should be—it would not result in the loss of, or reduction in, income-related benefits.

Similarly, the Government must “urgently address the absurd anomaly where a war widower or widow, who lost his or her pension upon cohabitation or remarriage, and did not get it reinstated because it was before the reinstatement date, could … get it restored by temporarily splitting up and then reuniting with the former spouse or partner”.

Use of LIBOR Grants

An element of independent scrutiny must be built into the monitoring of the Covenant. This is particularly important as the Government proceeds with the new and comprehensive Veterans Strategy, informed by such valuable initiatives as the Veterans Gateway and the Map of Need. There are concerns following the NAO’s findings that the Treasury and the MoD still cannot confirm that charities properly spent all their grants that were awarded to them through the distribution of the benefits of the LIBOR fines. The Committee says that delay in the Government’s review is unacceptable and has resulted in heightened concerns about the use of LIBOR funding for Covenant projects.

Further information


 

Armed Forces Day 2018 FAQ’s

What?

Armed Forces Day is a chance to show your support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community: from currently serving troops to Service families, veterans and cadets. There are many ways for people, communities and organisations across the country to show their support and get involved, from attending an event or joining us online to throwing a party or local event.

When?

Armed Forces Day takes place on the last Saturday each June.  In 2018, it will take place on Saturday 30 June.

Armed Forces Day celebrations begin on Monday 25 June when the Armed Forces Day flag is raised on buildings and famous landmarks around the country.

Reserves Day on 27 June will also provide an opportunity for the country to recognise our Reserve Forces.

Where?

The National Event in 2018 will be held in Llandudno, North Wales and local events will be taking place across the country. You can search or add your local event here.

Why?

Showing support for the Armed Forces provides a much-valued morale boost for the troops and their families. You can find out more about what they are doing at home and around the world by visiting the official sites of the Royal NavyBritish Army and Royal Air Force.

The public show their support for the Armed Forces on Armed Forces Day, but did you know theArmed Forces Covenant outlines how the Government, businesses and communities support Armed Forces personnel past and present throughout the year? Find out more here.

Who?

The Armed Forces

The UK Armed Forces defend the UK and its interests. They are busy working around the world, promoting peace, delivering aid, tackling drug smugglers, providing security and fighting terrorism.

Veterans

A veteran is anyone who has served in the HM Armed Forces at any time (including National Servicemen, Regulars and Reserves). Armed Forces Day celebrates their continued role within the military community.

You can find out more information about support for Veterans on the Veterans-UK website or by calling Veterans UK on 0808 1914 218.

Reservists

Reservists give up their spare time to serve in the Reserve Forces, balancing their civilian life with a military career to ensure that should their country require them, they would be ready to serve.

An annual Reserves Day celebrates their contribution to the Armed Forces.  Reserves Day is the Wednesday ahead of Armed Forces Day – 27 June.

Cadets

The Cadet Forces (Sea Cadets, Army Cadets, Air Cadets and the Combined Cadet Force) currently support over 130,000 young people in more than 3,000 locations across the UK. Cadets learn life and career building skills as well as gaining vocational qualifications..

Families

Our Armed Forces couldn’t do their job without the incredible support of their family and friends.

Charities

Although Armed Forces Day is not a charitable event, the Armed Forces have the support of several UK charities and many local events will offer opportunities to support them. To find out more about Armed Forces charities please see here.


 

Hola!

El Scorchio, the new Spanish class commenced at RBL Galanos House last night. With the weather appropriately Mediterranean, they moved outside to make the most of the early evening shade. Maravilloso! 😎 

GP90 Update Notice

 

26th June 2018

 

LOCAL MEMBERS OF THE ROYAL BRITISH LEGION TO REPRESENT St James’ Branch AT WW1 COMEMMORATIONS IN BELGIUM

John Robson and Tod O’Brien will travel to Europe for The Royal British Legion’s Great Pilgrimage 90

5-9th August 2018

 Members of the St James’ branch of The Royal British Legion are to join thousands on a pilgrimage of Remembrance to World War One battlefield that culminates in a parade and ceremony in Ypres as part of the end of the First World War centenary commemorations this August. 

The Royal British Legion event, known as Great Pilgrimage 90 (GP90), takes place between the 5th and 9th of August and will be one of the largest in the charity’s history. GP90 will mark 90 years since the original Royal British Legion Pilgrimage in 1928, which saw 11,000 World War One veterans and war widows visit the battlefields of the Somme in France and Ypres in Belgium, a decade after the conflict ended. 

That Pilgrimage culminated in a march through Ypres to the Commonwealth War Grave Commission’s Menin Gate Memorial for a ceremony to commemorate the launch of The Hundred Days Offensive and in remembrance of those who never returned.  Local Legion members, John Robson Standard bearer and Tod O’Brien Wreath layer will represent the St James’ Branch and the local community at the event, as Standard Bearer and wreath layer respectively. John Robson and Tod O’Brien will tour some of the same battlefields and cemeteries visited by those on the 1928 Pilgrimage, before marching along the original route through Ypres, to the Menin Gate on the 8th August, bearing their branch standard and a wreath.

They will join more than 2,200 other Legion representatives and dignitaries, including Civic and military guests from the UK, Commonwealth and Northern Europe who are taking part. Once at the Menin Gate Tod O’Brien will lay a wreath on behalf of the St James’ community.  Mike Dargan of the St James’ Branch of The Royal British Legion, comments: “Great Pilgrimage 90 is a unique opportunity for the Legion community to come together and bear our Standards along the same route in Ypres taken 90 years earlier by the veterans and widows of the First World War. The St James’ Branch looks forward to proudly representing National Districts at the event.” 

As local champions of Remembrance, the St James’ Branch of The Royal British Legion is looking to work in partnership with their community to bring their unique Remembrance message to the Menin Gate, on their wreath, where it will be displayed in a wreath installation for viewing by the general public until the end of August. The parade will start at midday and we encourage the public to make the trip across to Ypres for the 8th August and fill the Market Square to watch the parade, One Hundred Days ceremony and then enjoy an afternoon of musical entertainment including The Central Band of the Royal British Legion.  

If you want to find out more about GP90 or your local Royal British Legion branch, then please visit St James’ Branch website or contact the Website co-ordinator via the contact page.


 

Britain leads first ever European conference on veterans mental health

Ministers and senior military officials from six European countries have gathered in London to discuss mental health issues affecting veterans. Minister for Defence People and Veterans Tobias Ellwood hosted the conference, which included delegations from Denmark, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.

Best Practise

The conference, the first meeting of its kind, saw Ministers and military officials from six NATO countries share best practice on veterans issues and discuss how nations can further mental health support for former service personnel. Opening the conference, Mr Ellwood outlined to delegates that while most veterans go on live happy, healthy and successful lives, all Governments had the responsibility to look after the mental health of those who have served.

Minister for Defence People and Veterans Tobias Ellwood said:

In order to recruit the next generation of soldiers, sailors and airmen and women, we need to show that we look after our service personnel and veterans. Britain is not unique in facing this challenge. That’s why it’s vital that we discuss these issues and share best practice with our close European military partners.

Wrong Perception

At today’s meeting, Mr Ellwood addressed the need to counter the negative perceptions of veterans. He told the conference that while more needs to be done to help veterans, it’s unhelpful that, despite statistics which prove otherwise, many people think that service life leaves people damaged. Figures released today show that rates of mental disorder amongst serving armed forces personnel (3.1%) remain slightly below those of the general population (3.5%). Rates of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder also remain low, with 2 in every 1000 personnel assessed with having the disorder in 2016/17.

Every study conducted by the Ministry of Defence has also found that the risk of suicide among the Armed Forces community, including veterans of the Falklands conflict and the Gulf War, is lower than amongst the general population. The UK regular Armed Forces male rate of suicide for 2017 is 8 per 100,000. The UK general population male rate in 2016 was 19 per 100,000. The Ministry of Defence is now spending some up to £220 million over the next decade to improve mental health services for serving personnel.

Priority Access

While the provision of veterans’ healthcare is the responsibility of the NHS in England and the Devolved Administrations, the MOD is working closely with all relevant government departments to make sure the unique needs of veterans are addressed. Veterans in England, Scotland and Wales receive priority access to NHS specialist care for conditions stemming from their military service. Last year the government created a Ministerial Covenant and Veterans Board, to coordinate and address veterans-specific issues across all relevant government departments. The board will be presented with the first ever veterans strategy in the autumn

In 2017 the Veterans Gateway was also launched, providing a single point of contact for veterans, service personnel and their families to get the right information advice and support 24/7. The MOD provides £2 million to fund the helpline.


Festival of Remembrance Update from the MSO

Thank you for your continued support for the Royal British Legion and your membership of the St. James’s Branch.

We have received information about this year’s Festival of Remembrance and the process for obtaining tickets. The process this year will be significantly different to previous years in that individual members will be able to obtain tickets themselves on a first-come-first-served basis on the telephone and online from the 23rd July. The telephone number and weblink will be shared in the Legion magazine and the membership e-newsletter in July. The information will also be shared on the St. James’s Branch website http://www.rbl-stjames.org.uk/news/  when available. If you do not have access to any of these channels, please feel free to email me at nationaldistrict.mso@rbl.community in July and I will provide you with these details.

The details we have so far are as follows:

 

 

  1. FESTIVAL OF REMEMBRANCE

 

Membership Ticketing

 

The Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance will be held in the Royal Albert Hall, London on Saturday 10 November 2018 with performances at 2.00pm and 7.00pm.

 

Recent changes in Data Protection laws and increased security measures have meant a review of the process for obtaining tickets to attend the Festival of Remembrance was necessary. This is timely, because it has given us an opportunity to act on feedback from the Membership by changing to a fairer and more straightforward system of obtaining tickets. Under the new system, Members will be able to buy tickets on a first-come-first served basis, in an exclusive Member sale, buying tickets directly from the ticket agent.

 

There is also a new pricing structure for the purchase of tickets, which now allows members to select their own seating and pay accordingly, meaning a fairer allocation of seating within the Royal Albert Hall. There will be no additional booking fees for Members and administrative costs for the process will be covered by the Legion.

 

We believe that this new system means fairer distribution and fairer pricing along with an equal opportunity for all Members to secure a ticket. It will also ensure that Members’ personal data is secure.

 

The ticketing information and application procedure is outlined below. Exact details of ticket booking phone number and website will be released in the Legion Magazine, e-Newsletter and Yammer in July. This will also be sent via email to MSOs.

 

Requirements

 

In addition to the implementation of GDPR, the Metropolitan Police have asked for the following information for every person who will attend the Festival of Remembrance, both afternoon and evening performances:

 

  • Full Name (this must be exactly as it appears on your photo ID)

 

  • Address (please include post code)

 

  • Date of Birth (please use the format DD/MM/YYYY)

 

  • Email address

 

  • Contact number

 

 This information must be allocated to their seat number and all tickets must be individually named.

 

The ticket agent has agreed to gather all of the aforementioned data on behalf of the Legion and will be GDPR compliant. The ticket seller will share the data with TRBL and Met Police only. All data will be deleted within one month after the event.

 

The process for purchasing tickets for the Festival of Remembrance is as follows:

 

Mon 23 Jul All members of the Legion (including the Women’s Section) can purchase tickets from 9.00am by phone and online via a dedicated phone line and private web link.

 

The member should call the ticket agent directly. Each member must be prepared to quote the name of their branch and membership number when booking, as well as the information requested by the Metropolitan Police above for each guest to process the ticket booking. No more than 2 tickets will be issued and payment will be taken at the time of booking. Postal applications will not be accepted.

 

Tickets will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis. No tickets will be issued before full ticket holder details are received. Tickets will be posted directly to the lead ticket booker in October. Once confirmed tickets sent are non-returnable or refundable. You are able to change the name of your guest before 1 October by calling the ticket agent. All membership numbers will be checked. A clause will be written in to the purchaser terms and conditions that a refund will be processed if an invalid / fraudulent membership number is used.

 

Fri 7 Sep All membership numbers checked for validity by TRBL.

 

Invalid numbers are contacted and tickets will be refunded.

 

Mon 17 Sep Refunded tickets go on resale

 

Mon 1 Oct Ticket sales open to the general public.

 

Sun 14 Oct All ticketing closes. Tickets are posted to the lead booker.

 

Ticket prices

 

Ticket prices for both the afternoon and evening in 2018 (including VAT) are:

 

Grand Tier Boxes (afternoon performance only)          £30.00 per seat

Loggia Boxes (afternoon performance only)                £30.00 per seat

Second Tier Boxes                                                    £25.00 per seat

Stalls                                                                      £25.00 per seat

Circle (Centre)                                                         £10.00 per seat

Circle (Restricted View)                                            £10.00 per seat

Wheelchair spaces                                                   £10.00 per seat

 

 If you have any further queries on this, please do not hesitate to contact me at nationaldistrict.mso@rbl.community.