Chairman hosts reception for Omagh and Fintona branches of the Royal British Legion to mark the Centenary of the Royal British Legion

23rd November 2021

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The Chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Errol Thompson recently hosted a reception for members of Omagh and Fintona branches of the Royal British Legion to mark the centenary of the formation of the Royal British Legion. Please see below, text in full of the Chair’s speech at the reception.

“Royal British Legion Members, Fellow Councillors, Ladies and Gentlemen

As Chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, I am delighted to welcome you all to the Grange this evening.  I would like to extend a particularly warm welcome to our guests of honour, Members of the Royal British Legion branches of Omagh and Fintona in whose honour this evening’s reception is being held. You are all most welcome.

This year marks the centenary of the Royal British Legion was formed on 15 May 1921, bringing together the four national organisations of ex-Servicemen which had been established after the First World War:

  • The National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers
  • The British National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers
  • The Comrades of The Great War
  • The Officers’ Association

The Royal British legion was established principally to care for those who had suffered as a result of service during the First World War, be they one of the 6 million ex-servicemen who had returned from the war or the families who had been bereaved as a consequence of the war. They have been fulfilling that role ever since and it has ensured that those who so selflessly serve their country will not have their contribution forgotten.

As the country’s largest Armed Forces charity, the Royal British Legion has 180,000 members, 110,000 volunteers and a network of partners and charities helping to provide support wherever and whenever it’s needed.

Both Omagh and Fintona have a long and proud association with the Royal British Legion, with records showing the Omagh branch being established in 1921 and having its first President, Captain A.H.R Duncan who served in this capacity from 1921-27. So, the Omagh branch, too, is celebrating its centenary.

Fintona Royal British Legion was founded in 1947 with the first President being Raymond Browne esq who served until his death in 1962.  Membership in both branches has continued to grow over the years.

The Royal British Legion in Campsie Omagh I am told was acquired in 1955 for the princely sum of £50 – remarkable when you consider the fine building it is today to have cost such a small sum compared to today’s prices.

Times have changed since those early days when Lt Colonels, Colonels, Captains and Majors presided over the branches into the late 1950s which I suppose was a indicative of the amount of men who left these shores including from the towns of Omagh and Fintona to fight for King and Country and the desires of those who came home to alleviate the suffering of wives and families left without a breadwinner and to look after the needs of the injured and the survivors.

In its centenary year, I am delighted that the Royal British Legion remains a vibrant and relevant organisation and it is commendable the work the Legion undertakes through its most publicly visible outlet, the Poppy Appeal which regularly raises in excess of £50 million annually to support the work of the Legion. I note the exceptional efforts of both Omagh and Fintona who have raised significant funds through the annual Poppy Appeals. I congratulate every single person involved in this worthy cause, all of whom give of their own time in all weathers to raise these funds.

I know that often the work of the Royal British Legion goes largely unnoticed or reported due to confidentiality, but I am fully aware of the diligent and caring work that goes on in the background and I commend you all for this tremendous contribution to your community.

Like so many of other worthy causes, the Royal British Legion exists because of the efforts of so many like yourselves here this evening who willingly give of your time in the interest of others and so it gives me great pleasure to acknowledge in a small way through this Reception this evening your commitment and dedication to such a wonderful organisation.

I wish both the Omagh and Fintona Branches of the Royal British Legion continued success in the years ahead and I thank you most sincerely for your ongoing commitment and dedication to the Royal British Legion.