Coltishall and District Branch - Royal British Legion

 Chairman Mr R Jennings
Meetings are held 2nd Monday of the Month
at Coltishall Village Hall Lounge 7.30pm

All potential new members welcome
Contact Mr B Jordan (Jnr) 01603 738325
Photo Rememberance Sunday November 2002
Meeting dates are also displayed in the
The Royal British Legion

Next Meeting
1oth June 2013

Coltishall Village Hall Lounge

Latest Meeting Report

Royal British Legion
A Dinner is to be held at the Rising Sun, Coltishall on Monday 13th June, 7.00 for 7 30pm
If any anyone would like to attend or receive a menu please contact Bob Jennmgs Tel 01603 738335 or bob uk.

A short history of


The Coltishall & District Branch of the British Legion was formed in 1923, from the large numbers of Servicemen returning from World War 1.

They were fortunate in having the leadership of a strong band of retired officers (including Admiral Colomb and Colonels Morse and Caulfield) and soon became a fore front branch in Norfolk.

As a result of its work among the Ex-Service community it won many county and national awards culminating in 1935 with the award of the Haig Cup for being the most efficient small branch in England.

The branch also became well known for its fund raising gymkhanas and fetes.   It rented the Central Hall (now the home of Parish Council Chairman, John Harding  -1) from Roys and. sublet it to a travelling cinema and other functions.  

The walls of the hall were festooned with framed certificates relating to the above awards .

Following the end of World War 11 the new influx of returning Service people the branch again flourished and became one of the leading branches in the county. Its name appears more than once on the Jex Memorial Cup for being the most efficient small branch in Norfolk and also on the Jack Lee Memorial trophy for its outstanding work among the Ex-Service community .

At one time more than 20 widows were receiving a weekly grant from the Poppy Appeal and grants towards heatingcosts were obtained for them and others from Regimental Associations. The annual figure for this ran into four figures.

In 1951 the British Legion  was accorded the Royal accolade and became The Royal British Legion.   A celebatory garden party was held at Buckingham Palace and was attended by the Queen and other members of the Royal family.   A member of the branch and his wife were invited as guests.

The tenancy of the Central Hall became unprofitable and was ended. What happened to all the framed certificates?   Unfortunately this is a mystery.   Are they languishing in somebody's attic?  (e.g. some years ago a silver cup belonging to the branch was found in an attic in Church Close.  

It was donated to the County Committee who had it restored and the Coltishall Cup as it is now known is awarded annually to the branch with the best kept War Memorial site.

The late Dick Bean, exnd family ran fund raising gymkhanas on the football field and the branch organised grand fetes on the Lower Common on August Bank Holiday — an event which drew many Broads Visitors

The Branch was instrumental in setting up the united village services on Remembrance Sunday and also re-instituted the Two Minutes Silence at the War Memorial at 11 a.m. on llth November. On l5th August 1995 the branch arranged a memorial service on the Lower Common to celebrate the 50th amniversary of VJ Day.   This attracted over 400 people and was featured on both Anglia and BBCTV News .

The branch has always been fortunate in finding a keen and enthusiastic volunteer to organise the Poppy Appeal in the distrtct and who has always been well supported by the public.

Sadly, as members grow older death steadily dinishes their numbers and the branch desparately needs new members If it is to continue its good work.

Any (yes ANY) person aged 18 or over can become a member.   Contact numbers are in the Marlpit and this webpage. 

The Poppy Appeal organiser is always happy to welcome any offer of help during the Poppy Appeal period.

The Website managers gratefully acknowledge Charlie Smiths article and just for the record would like to document Charlie's devotion and accolades whilst completing a Lifetime of Service In The Royal British Legion.

Charlie makes no secret of the reason he has devoted himself to the Legion was because the Legion funded his school uniform whilst at Paston Grammar school,  his father was killed in the first World War and the family could not afford the expense . Charlie of course went on to become the headteacher of Coltishall Junior School which I am sure will become a story on its own.

But back to the Royal British Legion and some of Charlies achievements

1946 and still going to date (Aug 2009)  63 years a member  •  Poppyseller for 50 + years 
1950 to date 59 years a member of The Coltishall Branch
1967 to 1995  Assistant to Poppy Appeal Organiser - Mrs  Elsie Smith (Charlies spouse)
1966 to 1971 Branch Secretary 
1971 Services Secretary for 25 Years • 1985 to 1996 Branch Secretary

Legion Awards
1979 Legion Gold Badge • 1983 Honary Vice President of Norfolk • 1991 National Life Membership of the Legion.
1999 Certificate of Appreciation (one of only 19 awarded in this year)

Charlie asked not to include too much of his History, I have only included a miniscule amount of his service to the Legion and the Coltishall community and hope I have not caused him any embarrassment.
Moreover  on a personal note I would remind him that when in the RAF and in Hospital in Oxford and considered critically ill  it was Charlie who within hours of knowing, knocked at the door of my house offering my wife and young family any support the Legion could give.
Thank you and the Legion again - John Harding

The Royal British Legion, Coltishall
Colt Jags Football Club were very pleased to make Coltishall Royal British Legion part of our fun day this year and through holding a sponsored charity match with our very fantastic Ladies team and Coaches we donated £300 to the local Branch. Why did we do it? I had attended some Coltishall Parish Council meetings and sat next to a gentleman who talked about the difficulties the Branch was facing with lack of funds and lack of support. Unfortunately a similar story to that of many village clubs and organisations -however, forme, the Royal British Legion is an extremely under-estimated and under-valued organisation and a group that is thought of only for 'old people' (not sure if that's politically correct but its true).
Well I can tell you a very different story. I am 36 years old and my life has been touched by the Royal British Legion for 36 years. So yes, I started before I even kne\\ it! Whilst I couldn't become a fully fledged member for another 18 years my parents were very proud members, both joining at very young ages.
Plights of charitable organisations are heard throughout the press and in everyday life, but let me tell you a couple of things you might not know. Every Christmas members of Coltishall British Legion take small gifts to the local Widows of servicemen and women who have died in combat. Coltishall British Legion pay to have the beautiful wreaths of remembrance at the memorial in your village. The Legion supports hundreds of thousands of men and \\omen who have been injured or who have lost loved ones through 'just doing their job', their job of keeping all of us protected and safe.
Without the work of the Royal British Legion and its members over £31 million would be taken away from people from all areas of life, widows, families, disabled, young and old.
In the photograph you will see the very beautiful Standard. What's the Standard? It's the Flag which is so much more than what most people think of in a 'flag'. Every part, every mark and colour used has a meaning. Google it, 'Royal British Legion Standard', it's really very interesting. The Legion uses 5 words to share its work and support - Reflection, Hope, Comradeship, Selflessness and Service, each very meaningful if you are brave enough to give them a fev, minutes thought.
Wondering what you can do to help keep the branch going? Much of the money taken over the period of Remembrance goes to The Poppy Appeal and not directly to the Branch itself. Whilst I urge you to give generously during the Remembrance period please share a few pounds with the Branch at some point during the other 50 weeks of the year. Maybe you might like to offer to do a jumble table at a local sale or car boot or help the current members with a bit of paperwork. Whatever it is, 5 minutes or £, everything is appreciated.
What am I doing? First of all I think about the amazing memories of being at home in the build up to 11th November. Boxes and boxes and boxes and boxes of poppies, thousands of them, removing the black centres and the red flower from the green plastic stork, adding the leaf and putting the red flo\\ er back and sealing with the black centre. Major Howson who created the Poppy Factory in 1922 didn't design leaves to go on the poppies to start with! I remember the large poppies and hundreds of wooden crosses which we used to put around the memorial before everyone else arrived on the Sunday closest to 11th November, the wreaths and the march to the Legion Hall for sandwiches and tea after the service, and then I remember why we do it, so many people are so cynical about war, especially now with the politics of today's society and the media coverage. But please remember that 'they' are doing their job. Yes, just like all of us. I know, but 1 don't go to work and wonder if it will be the last time I will see my children or my family. 1 don't spend weeks, months or years away from my family because of 'my work'. 'They' see things we can never comprehend, 'they' are in danger every minute of every day of every week of every month they are 'working'.
Who are 'they'? 'They' are the people who go to work knowing that they might be seriously injured or die today but if anything happens to them The Royal British Legion are there to help and support them and their families, not only financially but also emotionally - and then 1 gratefully offer my 5 minutes And my £1. What do you do to help the Royal British Legion?
Tricia Frost Horstead