CAN YOU HELP? Royal British Legion needs volunteers for new support service

PUBLISHED: 12:00 06 July 2019

Italian Gardens, a cross planted by Weston's Royal British Legion for every veteran, from Weston and surrounding villages, that gave their lives during the First World War. Lyn Lovell, Sue Packham and Rob Bywaters.

Italian Gardens, a cross planted by Weston's Royal British Legion for every veteran, from Weston and surrounding villages, that gave their lives during the First World War. Lyn Lovell, Sue Packham and Rob Bywaters.

Archant

A support centre will open in Weston town centre this month to help veterans and Armed Forces personnel.

Royal British Legion Riders who lead the Parade.Royal British Legion Riders who lead the Parade.

The Royal British Legion (RBL) in Weston has seen a big change to its leadership in the past few months, with a new committee bringing its fresh ideas to promote the charity in Weston and plans to relaunch Touch Point - a weekly support group for families.

RBL, which runs the Somerset Legion House in Beach Road, is behind some of the biggest events in the town's calendar, including the annual Poppy Appeal fundraising efforts, the weekly bike nights and plays a part in the organisation of the Armed Forces Weekend.

Its vice chairman Lyn Lovell, said: "We have been able to raise tens of thousands of pounds for the legion through our various events and, when our new committee formed, our main objective was to bring back Touch Point as it was such an important service."

What does RBL do?

The RBL is at the heart of the national network which supports the Armed Forces community.

It is the country's largest Armed Forces charity with 235,000 members and 110,000 volunteers.

The legion was founded in 1921 with the Weston branch being set up shortly after.

The Weston branch of the Royal British Legion's new committee.The Weston branch of the Royal British Legion's new committee.

New committee

Rob Bywaters and Lyn head up a brand new committee as chairman and vice-chairman respectively.

Rob said the leadership team hopes to take the charity in a 'new direction' and open access to more people.

The committee is made up of some veterans and volunteers.

Rob said: "One of the main objectives we have set this year as a newly formed committee, was to ensure the Touch Point - formally known as the Drop In - was fit for purpose and reopen its doors once again after being closed for too long.

"We want to grow the profile of the charity and specifically Weston branch and make sure people understand what we do and how they can support us."

Touch Point

The legion is adding another string to its bow with the Touch Point Centre, at 77 Meadow Street.

Weston Air Festival and Armed Forces Weekend.Weston Legion Poppy Appeal.    Picture: MARK ATHERTONWeston Air Festival and Armed Forces Weekend.Weston Legion Poppy Appeal. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

It will be open every Thursday from 10am-2pm in a bid to support members of the British Armed Forces, veterans and their families.

Whether people need support or just want to chat, the centre will offer guests a cup of tea or coffee. But the centre is in desperate need of volunteers.

Lyn said: "We are restricted to only opening once a week at the moment due to volunteers.

"We have between three and four trained up but we realistically need nine to 10 people to open more days.

"It will be absolutely amazing to open this service and to be able to help so many people."

The centre will open for the first time on July 18.

Bike night

The bike night sees dozens of riders bring their bikes to Weston's Beach Lawns every Thursday to raise money for the Poppy Appeal and gives petrol heads the opportunity to look at bikes of all shapes and sizes.

The 100,000th bike arriving at Weston Bike Night ridden by Richard Whiston from Nailsea. North Somerset Chairman Cllr David Jolley and his wife Sue Jolley are pictured making the presentation, with Bike Night organiser Lyn Lovell and Bike Night volunteers.      

Picture: MARK ATHERTONThe 100,000th bike arriving at Weston Bike Night ridden by Richard Whiston from Nailsea. North Somerset Chairman Cllr David Jolley and his wife Sue Jolley are pictured making the presentation, with Bike Night organiser Lyn Lovell and Bike Night volunteers. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Now in its 12th year, the charity night is ran entirely by volunteers and hit a landmark total at last year's final week - raising £110,000 for the appeal.

Last August also saw the 100,000th bike pass through the gates with Nailsea's Richard Whiston at the handle bars.

This year's first event was opened with the arrival of North Somerset Council's former chairman David Jolley riding in on motorcycle with his wife Sue.

How can I get involved?

The RBL is regularly looking for volunteers to help in its Poppy Appeal fundraising efforts.

But for it is in desperate need of people to help with Touch Point for it to keep its doors open for good.

To inquire about volunteering there, drop into the centre on a Thursday.

People can also keep updated at the Weston branch's Facebook page or donate at www.britishlegion.org.uk

The 100,000th bike arriving at Weston Bike Night ridden by Richard Whiston from Nailsea. North Somerset Chairman Cllr David Jolley and his wife Sue Jolley are pictured making the presentation, with Bike Night organiser Lyn Lovell and Bike Night volunteers.      

Picture: MARK ATHERTONThe 100,000th bike arriving at Weston Bike Night ridden by Richard Whiston from Nailsea. North Somerset Chairman Cllr David Jolley and his wife Sue Jolley are pictured making the presentation, with Bike Night organiser Lyn Lovell and Bike Night volunteers. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

People who are interested in volunteering and can commit a few hours a week should contact branch secretary Sue Packham on WestonSuperMare.Secretary@rbl.community or Rob Bywater on WestonSuperMare.Chairman@rbl.community

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