Barking and Dagenham branch of British Legion celebrates 90 years
PUBLISHED: 15:54 22 July 2013 | UPDATED: 14:24 23 July 2013
A branch of the Royal British Legion, whose original members met in a garden shed, celebrated its 90th anniversary.
The Becontree, Chadwell Heath and District Branch marked the milestone by holding an event on another gloriously sunny day on Sunday
Residents were treated to a parade through Becontree Avenue, lead by the British Legion’s Romford Marching Band and standard bearers.
This was followed by a service at St Mary’s Church in Grafton Road, attended by more than 100 people including veterans, the Sea Cadets, and council staff.
The branch was formed in a garden shed on the corner of Chitty’s Lane in Dagenham in 1923 by a group of former World War I service men. For a number of years they met at various locations, until 1923 when the London County Council offered the group a lease of land at 541 in Becontree Avenue - where members still meet today.
During World War II the building was used to issue ration books and when the conflict ended became an important support organisation for former soldiers.
Membership dwindled in the late 1950s, but the club received a boost in numbers from 1971 when the council agreed to lift a clause prohibiting the sale of alcohol.
In 2001 the British Legion were given the chance to buy the premises and the sale went through the following year.
Treasurer of the branch, Ken Radley, who served in the Army and Territorial Army for a total of 35 years, said: “We’re still going strong, and have recently had quite a few young people become involved which is fantastic.
He added: “I believe the British Legion is as important as ever, not only because we need to remember those who have fought in past wars, but also support those who are serving in current conflicts around the world.”
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