By Chris Elliott…..
I recently went to a branch meeting of the Royal British Legion Kyrenia Branch and as I sat there listening to the committee members giving their reports I started to remember when I visited the Celebrity Hotel in Lapta to witness the inaugural meeting of this branch and also the proud entry of its standards and since those early days I realised just how this branch as gone from strength to strength.
The Royal British Legion Kyrenia Branch was formed on the 1st October 2011 following over 2 years of consultations with the relevant TRNC authorities and RBL HQ in London. Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Graydon GCB, CBE, ADC was appointed as the first Branch President with local Cypriot Sabri (Steve) Muhsinoğlu as Vice-President. Both still hold these posts. The Duke of Wellington was appointed the Honorary Life President until his death in 2014. The founding and current Chairman is Major Brian Thomas BEM and the Branch has a very active committee in place including a Vice-Chairman, Treasurer, Secretary, Welfare Officer and Membership Secretary, Poppy Appeals Officer, Poppy Shop member and Property Member. In addition a member in the UK is responsible for the Branch website which can be viewed at: www.rblkyrenia.com
The 2 Branch standards were dedicated on Remembrance Sunday 2011 and 6 months later the Branch attained full charity status in the TRNC. The Branch committee are the custodians of the Old British Cemetery in Kyrenia at which a Remembrance Sunday service has been organised by the Chairman every November since 2009 when the ‘British Cyprus Memorial’ was unveiled by the British High Commissioner Peter Millett, paid for by public donations in the UK, then shipped to the TRNC and erected then dedicated on the 8th November 2011. It commemorates the 372 servicemen who lost their lives in the ‘1955-59 Cyprus Emergency Campaign’ on the island and most of the deceased are buried at Wayne’s Keep Cemetery in Nicosia.
The Branch has currently circa 250 members and boasts an active social life with events planned throughout the year, both indoors and outdoors. The highlight being the Charity Gala held at the Savoy Ottoman Palace hotel in early June each year with entertainment flown in from the UK.
All the profits from the events calendar go towards the main ‘raison d’être’ of the Branch which is Welfare. In addition the Branch actively raises funds each year for the RBL Poppy Appeal and so far it has sent back to the UK in excess of £91,300 for the Appeal in just 6 years.
You do not have to have served in the Armed Forces to join the RBL, this is a misconception. However you need to have served for a minimum of 7 days for you or your spouse to be entitled to any welfare assistance.
To join simply contact the Membership Secretary, Martin Derbyshire on – 0533 873 2558 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org