Melton Royal British Legion Women’s Section closes after 92 years of service to the ex-service community

The women's section committee 2016. Pictured at the back, from left, are Mrs Joan Keightley, Mrs Vivien Layland, Mrs Corine Barker, Mrs Erica Fish and Miss Dawn Booker.  On the front row, from left, are vice-chairman Mrs Marlene Kirk, chairman Mrs Christine Talbot, president Mrs Pat Wilson and secretary Mrs Eileen Booker EMN-160925-172630001

The women's section committee 2016. Pictured at the back, from left, are Mrs Joan Keightley, Mrs Vivien Layland, Mrs Corine Barker, Mrs Erica Fish and Miss Dawn Booker. On the front row, from left, are vice-chairman Mrs Marlene Kirk, chairman Mrs Christine Talbot, president Mrs Pat Wilson and secretary Mrs Eileen Booker EMN-160925-172630001

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After giving 92 years of loyal service to the ex-service community in Melton and the surrounding area sadly the Melton Royal British Legion Women’s Section is no more.

The demise of the section - which was formed on January 25, 1924, to support servicemen who had fought in the First World War - has brought much sadness and disappointment to the long-serving committee members but it’s their intention to carry on having their functions and continue to raise funds for good causes under their new name ‘The Keswick House Ladies Club’. Ladies can still come down on Tuesday nights for ladies-only nights.

A parade of more than 40 standards from all over the county marched through Melton on October 20, 1974 on their way to St Mary's Church for a service of dedication after two new standards were presented to the Melton RBL branch EMN-160925-172051001

A parade of more than 40 standards from all over the county marched through Melton on October 20, 1974 on their way to St Mary's Church for a service of dedication after two new standards were presented to the Melton RBL branch EMN-160925-172051001

Among the stalwarts carrying on under the new name are Pat Wilson, who had been president of the women’s section since 1972, Chris Talbot and Eileen Booker.

They said: “The Melton Women’s Section officially ceased to exist on September 6. This was the result of orders from our national headquarters that we, in the women’s section as a whole, could not accept. These orders meant we lost all control of our organisation.

“We were advised by our women’s section county committee that we should consider closing. The decision to close was taken by the local women’ section committee and agreed to at a meeting of members on September 6.

“It’s our intention to carry on having our various functions with the blessing of the Royal British Legion branch and club. Anyone who wishes to remain or become a member of the Royal British Legion can do so by joining with the men. More information can be obtained from the branch and club at Keswick House.

This old photo shows the late Margery Brutnell MBE in the early years of her dedicated service as a standard bearer with the Melton Royal British Legion Women's Section. Margery, who died last year at the age of 94, was awarded the MBE from the Queen in 2002 for her long and dedicated service having then served 52 years with the Legion EMN-160930-155622001

This old photo shows the late Margery Brutnell MBE in the early years of her dedicated service as a standard bearer with the Melton Royal British Legion Women's Section. Margery, who died last year at the age of 94, was awarded the MBE from the Queen in 2002 for her long and dedicated service having then served 52 years with the Legion EMN-160930-155622001

“We now call ourselves the Keswick House Ladies Club, a subsidiary of the branch. All are Legion members with the same standing as the rest of the Legion members.”

Mrs Wilson said the Keswick House Ladies Club would continue to raise funds for causes for the benefit of the ex-service community including the Poppy Appeal, widow’s and children’s funds and care homes for ex-servicewomen.

But not having a women’s section means the ladies will no longer be raising money for the national women’s section and they can no longer carry the women’s section standard - one of their proud responsibilities carried out at important annual remembrance events in the Melton area.

A spokesman for the Royal British Legion organisation said: “As set out in proposals earlier this year it remains vitally important to integrate The Royal British Legion Women’s Section into the main body of the organisation to comply with charity regulation and governance arrangements.

“Following discussions in June, which took into consideration feedback from the 2016 annual conferences of both the women’s section and the Legion membership, a joint team representing the Legion and the women’s section is being formed to develop a plan for integration.

“The team will work together to identify potential issues brought about by the change and the aim will be to complete the integration of the women’s section by October 1, 2017.”