Support Wrought Through Forging New Relationships!

The Veterans Forge is set at the foot of the Purbeck Hills near Corfe Castle in Dorset. it has been set up to allow veterans the opportunity to have a break from everyday life and enjoy a relaxed rural location whilst being given the help and support they need.


They can offer veterans the chance to spend time in their forge learning blacksmithing skills. In groups of 4 to 6 at a time, they can support these individuals on projects to aid with increasing skills and also encouraging a positive mental attitude and maintaining their psychological well-being.


“We want to forge people as well as iron.”



The ability to make metalwork items to take home will be one of the achievements of their stay. Our aim is to introduce half day through to whole week courses and we will help with arranging accommodation. They will also be training our staff to gain a basic first aid qualification. Fundraising will be ongoing through various means to ensure the charity can grow. One way of doing this will be to sell items made at the forge. If you are a veteran and would like to find out more about spending time with us or you are a qualified blacksmith or Farrier that would like to get involved or you have other skills that you think would be of use to us then please contact us.


January’s Membership Newsletter Published

The January Newsletter features,                                                                                                                                                    

  • New Branches Opening
  • The Invicta RBL Branch Makes History
  • Row4Victory Success
  • Normandy Veterans Commemoration Trip
  • This Month’s Poll

Editor                                                      Read the Newsletter here


Less Than A Quarter Of Companies Know About Military Covenant, Says Report

Less than a quarter of British organisations have heard of the Armed Forces Covenant, according to a new report.

Benefit not Burden

Twenty-four per cent of companies have heard of the Covenant, which is a pledge made by the government that those who serve their country, veterans and their families are treated fairly. Only eight per cent of companies have signed the promise, which came into law in 2011. The report, ‘Benefit not Burden, commissioned by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), says the smaller the organisation is, the less likely it is to be aware of the covenant, to have signed it or take any action.


Now the FiMT is calling for increased awareness around the benefits of signing up to the covenant and being a veteran-friendly employer. To date, more than 3,000 organisations have signed the covenant including business and charities. Meanwhile, 28% of organisations surveyed in the research claimed they are likely to sign the covenant over the next year.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said:

“Ex-Service personnel offer a substantial premium of capability to a prospective employer.” [This report] has identified some straightforward steps that could be taken relatively easily, and which would result in a substantial improvement in how the nation fulfils its side of the Covenant.”


Veterans’ Gateway begins new trial proactive call service to support ex-forces community

The Veterans’ Gateway, the first port of call for veterans’ support, has begun a new trial outreach service for those who have served in the armed forces. Supported by £108,000 of funding from the Ministry of Defence, the Veterans’ Gateway will now proactively call ex-service personnel who have been in contact to ask for support.

Gateway Team

Under the new initiative, the Gateway team will identify the most vulnerable ex-service personnel who have previously contacted its helpline, and trained call handlers will get in touch to make sure they are receiving the support they need. Each individual who contacts the helpline will be asked for their consent to receive calls from the Veterans’ Gateway team, who will be able to provide support and advice, and make referrals where necessary.

Same Advisor

Veterans will receive calls from the same advisor, and can decide how often they hear from the Gateway, so they are supported in a way that suits their specific needs. This new proactive posture follows the US Marine Corps veterans service, who make six proactive calls for every one that they receive.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

The Veterans’ Gateway already makes a huge difference to the ex-forces community, helping thousands of people across the country access the support they need.

I’m delighted we are now able to enhance this service, boosting the support we offer veterans and making sure that no one who has served this country suffers in silence.

Assistant Director of Veterans’ Gateway Mark Collins said:

This funding will allow us to build on our service, offering a more holistic service to the veteran community which will be a positive step.

We will be monitoring the outcome to see how this trial impacts our users but hopefully it’ll mean those most vulnerable will be able to access help from Veterans’ Gateway supporting organisations, on their journey to getting the right help.

Minister for Defence People and Veterans Tobias Ellwood said:

We are committed to making sure everyone who has served knows where to turn in times of hardship, and this new trial will allow us to go one step further.

By maintaining regular contact with any veteran who needs help, we can offer them the support they deserve, as and when they need it.

Available 24 hours a day, the Veterans’ Gateway signposts ex-forces personnel to the wide range of support available to them, including housing and financial advice, career guidance, and medical care from the NHS. Since being set up in 2017, the Veterans’ Gateway has already received over 20,000 calls, advising ex-forces personnel and their families.

The funding for this new trial was announced by the Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson last year, as part of a wider package of support for veterans. This included the creation of the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund – a grant programme where charities will be able to apply for funding from the £10 million awarded to the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust to support the mental fitness of ex-service personnel.


Join Us

At St. James’s Branch we would be delighted if you are interested in volunteering, whether you’re a member or not.

Non-Members can:-

St James’s Branch Members can:-

  • Take part in all of the above.

In addition, join the St James’s Branch Management Committee, where you will have the opportunity to:-

  • Shape the future of The Royal British Legion’s largest branch (circa 20k members) and influence the decision makers leading the UK’s largest Armed Forces Charity.
  • Enhance your CV; employers appreciate the dedication and drive it takes to be a volunteer.                                                                            
  • Develop your interpersonal skills; debating, resolution and listening to all arguments/opinions have a major impact on your ability to understand new or different concepts.
  • Be heard; new successes, initiatives and perspectives are the lifeblood of a successful team, your ideas will help.
  • Learn; from veterans, business owners and charity workers, an appreciation of learning from history, taking the best ideas forward and finding new opportunities.
  • Enjoy new friendships; our current team are a diverse bunch of characters, who, whilst taking their roles very seriously, never, take themselves too seriously!

We look forward to hearing from you, we particularly encourage applications from those of you who were born after 1987 (though not exclusively!) 

Do contact us now to find out more about supporting the British Legion.

Read more about fundraising for the British Legion on the National website – click here.


Veterans Service in the running for coveted national award

The Veterans Orthopaedic Service, which is based at RJAH, has been named as a finalist in the Soldiering On Awards.

The Soldiering On Awards are highly coveted in the Armed Forces community. They recognise inspirational individuals and teams, who highlight the outstanding achievements of current and former service personnel and their families, as well as those who care for and support them. The Veterans Orthopaedic Service, led by Lieutenant Colonel Carl Meyer, a Consultant Military Orthopaedic Surgeon, has been named as a finalist in the Healthcare and Rehabilitation Award category, after being nominated by Tom Bennett-Britton for the high standard of care provided to his father-in-law, Major Igor Obrastsoff-Rutinsky, a former Paratrooper.

Dedicated Orthopaedic Service

Mr Bennett-Britton said: “I know of the Veterans Orthopaedic Service, as my father-in-law was treated by Lt Col Carl Meyer and his team earlier this year. The service that he received was truly first-class. “The team were able to gain his trust so that he was happy to proceed with a knee replacement, and it has proved to be a great success. It has transformed his mobility and provided with him with a renewed lease of life. “Igor is one of thousands of veterans that this service has now helped.

“As part of this service, the hospital has recently launched a £1.5 million fundraising campaign to build the UK’s first dedicated Veterans’ Orthopaedic Centre, and I believe the service winning a Soldiering On Award would provide due recognition to the fabulous work it does, where they truly transform the lives of our veterans.”

The NHS-led service is open to those who have served with the UK military, including National Service, and treats arthritic lower limb problems, especially those requiring hip and knee replacements. Lt Col Carl Meyer said he feels “thrilled” that the service is in the running for a national award. He said:

“I’m thrilled that our Veterans Orthopaedic Service has been nominated for a prestigious Soldiering On Award. This is wonderful recognition for the work that we do here at RJAH in caring for servicemen and women, who have left the Forces. “Provision for those who have left the services has been lacking, which is why providing specialist orthopaedic care to our veterans and serving military personnel is something I’m extremely passionate about. “There aren’t many professions where going to work places you at risk of dying or being severely injured. I feel this level of commitment requires recognition.”

Wonderful Work

All of the finalists will be invited to a special private reception at the House of Lords on 13 February, hosted by Lord Dannatt and attended by Awards Patron, the Rt Hon Earl Howe PC and a number of special guests, ahead of the winners being announced at a prestigious black tie event at the Westminster Park Plaza on 5 April. General the Lord Richard Dannatt, Awards President and head of the judging panel, said:

“The 2019 Soldiering On Awards finalists represent the wonderful work of the Armed Forces and all that they stand for. “The Awards recognise those who have gone above and beyond what was required, time and again, an ethos learned for many of our finalists in the service of their country. Those who support the military community not only benefit them, but our wider society too. “As Chair of the Judging Panel this was the most difficult year to date, due to a doubling in the number of nominations and the high calibre of all the nominees. Each and every one of these finalists is deserving of their recognition and we look forward to celebrating their journey with them when the winners are announced in April.”


Covenant Local Grants Programme Reopened

The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust has reopened the Armed Forces Covenant Local Grants programme following a short closure and new guidance is available designed to help applicants develop strong bids…

Carol Stone, Director of Grants said: “We are delighted to be reopening the programme with new, up to date guidance. This new guidance incorporates the helpful feedback that we’ve been receiving from applicants, grant holders and others. We hope that applicants find it helpful.

“My top tip for submitting a strong application to us would be to read the guidance carefully before you start your application, then read it through again just before you submit.”

The Armed Forces Covenant Local Grants Programme makes grants of up to £20,000 for local projects that improve integration between Armed Forces and civilian communities, or deliver local services and projects that meet a need within the local Armed Forces Community. Applications need to be made online.

In the first three years of the programme, over £7M has been given to 430 organisations. The programme is currently in year 4, and has made an additional 107 grants.

One of these projects was the Larkhill Community Hub Café, in South West England. The Army Welfare Service received £12,000 to support the establishment of a Community Hub Café in Larkhill, coordinated by volunteers and supported by AWS Community Support. The project explained that:

The grant received from Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust will create a vibrant, educational and enjoyable Community Hub & Café. It will help improve local amenities within the Larkhill area, create opportunities for service and civilian families living locally and develop community spirit in area that will be changing dramatically in the near future.

“With the imminent arrival of service families to Larkhill and the surrounding areas due to the Army Rebasing Programme, the welfare provision available to service and civilian families will be more diverse, more accessible and more relevant, helping make this transition, for all involved, as issue free as possible”.

More information on the programme and the new guidance can be found here.


Defence Secretary invites D-Day veterans to 75th anniversary

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has written an open letter to veterans of the Normandy Landings inviting them to take part in D-Day75, the commemorations of the 75th anniversary of the Normandy Landings.


The Ministry of Defence has planned a series of major events with The Royal British Legion and Portsmouth City Council to mark the anniversary. Veterans of the Normandy Landings will be the VIPs of these events, ensuring that the whole country has the opportunity to thank this extraordinary generation.

Events Programme

Commonly referred to as D-Day, the Normandy Landings began on 6 June 1944, when allied forces launched a combined naval, air and land assault on occupied Europe. Events to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the operation will be held in Normandy and around the UK this June.

The full programme of events will be announced at a launch event at The D-Day Story in Portsmouth on Wednesday 16 January 2019.

A letter from the Secretary of State for Defence, The Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP

To the veterans of Normandy; the sailors, marines, soldiers and airmen who helped pave the way for the liberation of Europe,

Her Majesty’s Government is proud to announce plans to mark the 75th anniversary of the Normandy Landings planned for June 2019, when the eyes of the world will be upon you once more. Your actions in 1944 were the vital springboard to the liberation of Europe and the end of the Second World War. The breathtaking bravery and ingenuity you showed during those days still echo through our nation’s armed forces and society as a whole.

This year, veterans of the Normandy campaign have been invited to register with The Royal British Legion to take part in the official commemorations. The Royal British Legion has announced that a ship has been specially chartered to provide a fully-funded tour for around 300 Normandy veterans from 2 June to 9 June. Each veteran can bring one carer who will also be fully funded by the Legion and Libor grants distributed by the Government.

Veterans will be the VIPs of the commemorations and we want as many of you as possible to be able to mark this major anniversary. The Ministry of Defence, The Royal British Legion and our many fellow delivery partners are working together to let veterans know what is being planned, and to encourage them to register their interest to take part. We also call upon members of the general public to take part in commemorations in both the UK and France and to help us locate Normandy veterans they may know of.

Portsmouth will be the location of the national events in the UK and the Ministry of Defence, in conjunction with Portsmouth City Council and The Royal British Legion, is planning a series of events to reflect the area’s significant role in the preparation of one of the most audacious operations in military history.

Official commemorations will start with a ceremonial event on Portsmouth’s Southsea Common on the 5 June commencing a full 5 days of activity, including flypasts, military parades, festivals, music and more. Before sunset on 5 June, the specially-chartered ship will transport veterans across the channel to Normandy. Once there, key events will include The Royal British Legion’s services at Bayeux Cathedral and the Commonwealth War Grave Commission’s Bayeux Cemetery before an evening of entertainment in Arromanches. Throughout the commemorations, current serving personnel from our armed forces will be there to assist veterans in both the UK and in France.

Five years ago, the President of France advised the Ministry of Defence that it wished to award the Légion d’Honneur, their highest honour, to all surviving Normandy veterans. Since then, we have processed 6,000 applications. If there are any of you who have not yet applied, then please do in order that you too can wear the medal with pride.

To register for the commemorations and apply for a place on the ship please visit The Royal British Legion’s website. To apply for a Légion d’Honneur or learn more of events happening in Normandy and the UK please visit GOV.UK.

It is our intention that this June we show you, our special generation, that we will never forget the debt we owe for the peace and freedom we now enjoy.



New figures reveal changes to the UK’s veteran population

The plaque outside the South Door of the Ministry of Defence Main Building in Whitehall, London.

New figures released by the MOD provide an insight into how the UK’s veteran population will change over the next decade.

The figures show that over the next ten years, the number of former service personnel in Great Britain is expected to decrease by around 1 million, to approximately 1.6 million by 2028. Estimates put the number of former service personnel currently residing in Britain at around 2.5 million. As well as the reduction in size, the age and gender profile of the ex-forces community is also expected to change. The percentage of veterans of working age, between 16-64, is projected to rise from 38% to 44%, while the percentage of women is set to increase from 10% to 13%.


The new data projections will inform the first ‘Strategy for our Veterans’, jointly published by the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments, which sets out the key areas of support for those who have left the armed forces. Published in November 2018, the strategy identified six key areas where support is most needed over the next ten years, including: community and relationships, employment and skills, health and wellbeing, finance and debt, housing, and contact with the law. The UK Government consultation complementing the strategy is open until 21st February. All relevant Government departments have a responsibility to ensure that the military community is treated fairly, and not disadvantaged by their service as part of the Armed Forces Covenant. This includes access to housing and healthcare, as well as employment and education support.


The 2021 census, which will for the first time allow citizens to identify whether they have served, will work alongside these new projected figures to help local authorities to better understand the needs of the veterans community, and to support them in the most efficient way.

Minister for Defence People and Veterans Tobias Ellwood said:

The figures reveal important insight into the potential needs of our future veteran community, and will help us to continue to step up our support for those who have served this country.

While the vast majority of ex-service personnel go to live happy, healthy and successful lives, it’s right that we work across Governments to make sure veterans can access the services they need.

This week, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced that all social housing applicants will be given the chance to identify themselves as veterans, and those struggling with mental health will be given the same priority as their peers with physical injuries.


Last year, NHS England confirmed that every part of the country now has dedicated mental health services up and running for veterans, and announced the first 25 hospitals to become ‘Veteran Aware’, delivering specialist healthcare support to those who have served. This will be supported by £10 million of investment as part of the NHS’s long term plan. Any veteran in need of advice can call the Veterans’ Gateway – a 24 hour helpline which acts as the first port of call for ex-service personnel and their families. The MOD has announced that the Gateway’s 24/7 helpline will trial a new outreach service where it will proactively call those who have served, to check in on their wellbeing and remind them of where support can be found.


BFBS Brings More British Programming to U.K. Troops

Greater numbers of British forces and their families stationed abroad, including Royal Navy ships at sea, will receive a range of popular British TV and radio programming from the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) via SES satellites in a new multi-year agreement announced by SES.

Closer to Home

The increased capacity will enable BFBS to continue to deliver more popular British entertainment and sporting content across the globe, from Canada in the north-west and Falkland Islands in the south, across Europe and Africa and all the way to Brunei in the Far East. The service is an important part of making British forces and their families feel a little closer to home during deployments.

Supply Welfare

BFBS’s mix of popular news, sport and entertainment programming will be delivered via SES’s NSS-12 and SES-6 satellites. BFBS operates as part of SSVC (Services Sound and Vision Corporation), a not-for-profit charity, under a ten-year contract with the UK Ministry of Defence to supply welfare by radio and TV worldwide.
“Bringing the best of British TV and Radio to our armed services around the world has an incredibly positive impact on their morale and welfare, especially when they are separated from loved ones and home life for months on end,” said Ryan Lambert, Chief Technical Officer, BFBS. “It’s great that we can now deliver more content and more channels than ever before to our forces posted around the globe via SES.”
“Our partnership with SSVC spans many years,” said Ferdinand Kayser, CEO of SES Video.  “This newest agreement extends our ability to improve the lives of British Forces by bringing them more of the creature comforts of home – wherever they are stationed, including ships in the South China Sea and Eastern Pacific. We feel privileged that we can help to improve the health and well-being of service personnel and their families through the unmatched reach and reliability of our global fleet, together with the unbeatable radio and television content available from BFBS.”

About SES

SES is the world’s leading satellite operator with over 70 satellites in two different orbits, Geostationary Orbit (GEO) and Medium Earth Orbit (MEO). It provides a diverse range of customers with global video distribution and data connectivity services through two business units: SES Video and SES Networks.

SES Video reaches over 351 million TV homes, through Direct-to-Home (DTH) platforms and cable, terrestrial, and IPTV networks globally. The SES Video portfolio includes MX1, a leading media service provider offering a full suite of innovative services for both linear and digital distribution, and the ASTRA satellite system, which has the largest DTH television reach in Europe.

SES Networks provides global managed data services, connecting people in a variety of sectors including telecommunications, maritime, aeronautical, and energy, as well as governments and institutions across the world. The SES Networks portfolio includes GovSat, a 50/50 public-private partnership between SES and the Luxembourg government, and O3b, the only non-geostationary system delivering fibre-like broadband services today. Further information is available at:

About BFBS

BFBS is part of SSVC, a global, not-for-profit media organisation that informs, entertains, connects and champions the UK Armed Forces. Its TV, radio and digital services offer a long-established lifeline to our forces stationed overseas – and a highly valued entertainment and information hub to the wider military community here in the UK.

Forces Radio BFBS is on FM and DAB+ in the UK, on Sky 0211, Freesat 786, online at via the free BFBS Radio app, and on FM across the forces world.

BFBS TV is a unique mix of the best of current British TV available to all entitled personnel worldwide. BBC One and ITV are alongside live sport from Sky and BT, with additional top-flight action on the bespoke BFBS Sport channel. Movie premieres, high-end drama and comedy are sourced from more than 40 UK broadcasters and worldwide distributors, and are available around the clock on BFBS Extra.