THIS YEAR’S Royal British Legion AGM was once again held in Lisbon. As with many AGMs, this event never seems to attract a large number of the membership. Ron Goddard, Chairman of the Portuguese branch of the RBL, opened the meeting with the customary one minute silence to remember those who gave their all and also to remember four members who had died this year. John Buck was welcomed as the new Ambassador to Portugal and the RBL is grateful to him for agreeing to become their President and a member of the local branch.
After acceptance of the previous year’s minutes, the Chairman’s report was studied in detail. In it, he praised the financial position of the RBL and went on to highlight the decision to take a stand at the Better Living in Portugal Exhibition in the Algarve. Ron thanked The Resident, Taylor’s Port and the RBL HQ for their generous support that had helped the Portugal branch of the RBL to achieve such good results. The branch had increased its membership by almost 33 per cent in two days.
Ron also revealed that this year’s Poppy Appeal appears to be up on last year, with a generous donation of 1,000 euros from the Lisbon-based Charity Bridge Association and a kind gift from a lady living in the Algarve who donated 1,000 pounds sterling. The branch itself was helped this year by a generous donation from the Gulbenkian Foundation.
The welfare of ex-service members is an important part of the work of the RBL and this year’s major event was the repatriation of a seriously ill ex-Petty Officer by air ambulance to the UK, as well as other local welfare cases. Ron went on to remind members that the RBL now has its own website www.portugal.legionbranches.net
It was reported that the Remembrance service in Lisbon was the best attended ever and there was a good military turnout from the three armed services. The sub-branches of the RBL were thanked, as many had worked hard during the year to organise functions that helped to raise donations towards the Poppy Appeal.
An exciting development has been the formation of a small sub-committee to organise the 50th anniversary of the Portuguese branch of the RBL in 2006. Ron pointed out that, although it seems a long way off, with an ambitious programme involving VIPs from the UK, a golf tournament, a battlefield tour(s), a gala dinner and church service, a lot of planning will be involved.
In closing his report, Ron reminded everyone that with an average membership age of mid 60’s, the RBL will sadly lose some members each year. Two members who should be remembered for their sterling work within the RBL were Dennis Wheeler and Bill Grigsby. The Chairman then thanked a number of people within the RBL who had given so freely of their time to ensure the continuance of the organisation’s presence here in Portugal. Next year’s AGM will be on Wednesday, November 30, at a venue to be decided in the Algarve.