Cookstown Branch of The Royal British Legion marked its 90th anniversary on last week with a special service of thanksgiving and remembrance.
During the service Branch Chairman, John Gilmour gave a brief history of the branch from foundation to date.
A memorial plaque was unveiled by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for Co Tyrone, Mr Robert Scott, OBE, JP, FRICS, and dedicated by the Branch Padre, Rev Canon Norman Porteus who also led the service. H
e was assisted by Branch President Rev Dr Isaac Thompson, TD, Rev June Park and Rev Fr Gerry Tremer. A poppy wreath bearing the original British Legion badge was laid at the plaque by Comrade Tommy Catherwood, one of the most senior members of Cookstown Branch.
Guests came from wide area and included representatives of the local RBL branches and Regimental Associations as well as Mr George Black, NI District Chairman RBL, Mrs Joanne Andrew-Steer, MBE, Ms Noell Crawford and Mrs Sheila Thompson from NI Women’s Section. During the evening the Chairman, John Gilmour read a letter of greetings and congratulations to the branch from Her Majesty the Queen.
In another exciting development for Cookstown Branch Mrs Susan Parke of the Women’s Section, who is already Northern Ireland Women’s Section Standard Bearer, won the Standard Bearer’s competition at National Conference a few weeks ago and is now the Royal British Legion Women’s Section National Standard Bearer. She now joins National Standard Bearer and Cookstown Branch Vice-Chairman Norman Espie at the pinnacle of their Standard Bearing career. Miss Rachel McKeown who last year succeeded her fellow Cookstown member Steven Parke as Northern Ireland Youth Standard Bearer was placed runner-up in her first National Youth Competition just last weekend. Clearly Cookstown Branch has a strength in Standard Bearing and the success of these three members brings recognition not only to the Branch but also to the town of Cookstown.
Mrs Susan Parke of the Women’s Section, who is already Northern Ireland Women’s Section Standard Bearer, won the Standard Bearer’s competition at National Conference
In his speech following the Thanksgiving Service the Lord Lieutenant paid tribute to the service given to the ex-service and wider community by the branch over the past 90 years. He went on to congratulate the Standard Bearers on their achievements and on their ceremonial at the Service. He also thanked the willing band of Poppy Sellers who turn out year on year to raise the funds needed by RBL to continue the welfare work for which it was formed.
This was echoed by Northern Ireland District Chairman George Black who also brought greetings and congratulations to the branch from NI District Committee.
Supper was served by the ladies of Cookstown Women’s Section who were thanked formally by Mr Nial Watson, grandson of Brigadier Sinton, VC, late of The Lodge, Lough Fea and by Rev Canon Sam McVeigh, MBE, TD, DL, NI District Padre, RBL.