Royal British Legion branch to celebrate 100th anniversary

Armed Forces Day Parade, Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

Dereham's branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL) is set to celebrate its 100th anniversary  - Credit: IAN BURT

A Norfolk branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL) is set to reach a very special milestone. 

Dereham RBL will celebrate its centenary on Wednesday, January 19, marking exactly 100 years to the day since it was established.

Standard BearerTrevor Farrow rolls up the Dereham Royal British Legion group standard after the Armi

Standard bearer Trevor Farrow rolls up the Dereham Royal British Legion standard back in 2010 - Credit: ©Archant Photographic 2010

A series of events are being planned throughout the year in recognition of the historic occasion, starting with an anniversary lunch on Wednesday at Cafe Verde in Mattishall. 

It will be attended by dozens of the branch's 126 members. 

Lynn Whitwell, vice chairman of Dereham RBL, said: "It is quite an achievement to reach 100 years, and we hope to continue doing various things to celebrate. 

"We are still in the planning stages, but there will be plenty of functions throughout the year."

The Battle of Britain parade in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt

Dereham Royal British Legion members march during the 2015 Remembrance parade - Credit: Archant

The Royal British Legion was formed on a national basis in 1921 in the aftermath of the First World War. 

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Dereham's branch was just a few months behind when it was established in January 1922. 

In a bid to sufficiently commemorate the anniversary, Mrs Whitwell and the legion are on the hunt for information, records and photographs relating to the launch and the early years - which has thus far been a struggle. 

"It is such a shame that these records have seemingly been lost," she said.

A Jubilee celebration held on Dereham Market Place - The Royal British Legion. Picture: Matthew Ushe

Dereham's Royal British Legion branch taking part in Jubilee celebrations in 2012 - Credit: Matthew Usher

"It would be lovely to know where they met and how many members there were when it started. There is very little information we can find."

While the Dereham legion branch currently boasts what Mrs Whitwell called a "healthy" membership, she admitted there was always a desire to find new recruits. 

"We have a nucleus of about 30 who regularly attend our monthly meetings, but a lot of our members are quite elderly and cannot travel," she added. 

"We do have some younger members but we would love more. It is the same with any organisation like us - we want young people to join but they are so busy. 

The Dereham branch of the Royal British Legion has been awarded the Royal Challenge Cup for the larg

The Royal British Legion's Dereham branch pictured in 2016, after being awarded the Royal Challenge Cup for the largest increase in Poppy Appeal sales in Norfolk - Credit: Archant

"I would also like to take the opportunity to dispel this widely-held belief that members must have served in the armed forces. That is not the case and I, for example, have not served in the forces."

To help Lynn Whitwell in the search for information on the creation of the Dereham RBL branch, email lynn.whitwell@btinternet.com.

Peter Whitwell from Hardingham, who is a member of the Dereham Branch of the Royal British Legion ha

Dereham Royal British Legion standard bearer Peter Whitwell pictured in 2014 - Credit: Matthew Usher

Dedication of new flag poles at Dereham War Memorial, Market Place, Dereham. Pictured: Raising the R

The Dereham Royal British Legion flag is flown back in 2008 - Credit: IAN BURT