How Royal British Legion has coped with Covid

The Wymondham branch of the Royal British Legion has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic

The Wymondham branch of the Royal British Legion has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic - Credit: Tony Spinks

Charities have been among the hardest hit during the coronavirus crisis, losing out on millions of pounds. 

Among them is the Royal British Legion (RBL) and its Wymondham branch which, like 61 others across Norfolk, has had to cease almost all its public activity.

The Wymondham branch of the Royal British Legion has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic

The Wymondham branch of the Royal British Legion has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic - Credit: Tony Spinks

The RBL is perhaps most associated with the Poppy Appeal but, last year, sellers were nowhere to be seen in shops and on street corners.

Annual events which usually take place around Armistice Day were replaced with muted, low-key ceremonies.  

Wymondham RBL's saving grace was to secure a pop-up shop at Poppa John’s barbers on Whartons Court, allowing it to at least play an active role. 

The Wymondham branch of the Royal British Legion has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic

The Wymondham branch of the Royal British Legion has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic - Credit: Tony Spinks

But it is more than just a lack of fundraising that has hit legion right at its core, as Wymondham committee member Brian Bandy explained.


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"The RBL is not a stuffy organisation," he said. "A lot of people become members to support the military community, but it is also about friendship, welfare and making a difference.

"The pandemic has meant we cannot do social things, have a beer with friends or do the fundraising. That whole concept of togetherness has gone out the window.

Brian Bandy, committee member at Wymondham Royal British Legion

Brian Bandy, committee member at Wymondham Royal British Legion - Credit: Tony Spinks

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"Away from the social side, we have not been able to participate in so many days of remembrance. VE Day, VJ Day, Armistice; they are the big occasions when we get out there with the donation buckets.

"November was difficult and a lot of our members found it very sad."

2021 marks the RBL's 100th anniversary, while the Wymondham branch - thought to be one of the nation's oldest - will have a celebration of its own having held its first meeting in November 1921. 

A wreath is laid by Ann Rogerson, secretary of Wymondham RBL 

A wreath is laid by Ann Rogerson, secretary of Wymondham RBL - Credit: Wymondham RBL

As restrictions ease, it is hoped members will be able to enjoy a summer gathering at the 389th Bomb Group Memorial Museum, in Hethel, before a centenary dinner later in the year.

The legion might now be heading into a second century, but its values remain the same.

"The public see us on the street with our collection buckets, but what is hidden is the support we provide to people," added Mr Bandy.

"What realise there are no First World War veterans still around, and there are less and less from the second. We need to look now to younger generations."

The Wymondham branch of the Royal British Legion has not been able to take part in its usual activities

The Wymondham branch of the Royal British Legion has not been able to take part in its usual activities amid the coronavirus pandemic - Credit: Liz Chalu


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