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Eye: Royal British Legion group forced to disband

18:16 20 November 2012

Former members of the Eye branch of the Royal British Legion

Former members of the Eye branch of the Royal British Legion

A ROYAL British Legion group has been forced to close despite numerous appeals for urgent help to keep it going.

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The men’s section of the Royal British Legion Branch in Eye paraded for the last time on Remembrance Sunday.

Their standard was laid down in the town’s parish church after the branch took the decision to close because they could not fill the vacant committee positions.

Alan Cooper, 77, of Ash Drive, Eye, was chairman of the branch for 40 years before standing down about four years ago: “The reason it’s closed is all the members have got old and no one has taken office, the youngest member is 76 and the rest are over that. We could not get any members to take it on – they were all too old.

“We could not get any younger members, no one was interested. A lot of people do not have the time there’s so much going on, we always do well on poppy day and things like that but if you have got a young family you have to look after them.

He added: “The branch could open again if someone comes forward to do the jobs, the standard could come from the church again if we can get a chairman, a secretary, a treasurer and some members.”

The branch opened more than 90 years ago in 1921 and had only 35 members on its books when it closed.

Speaking about choosing Remembrance Sunday as the day to close the branch, Mr Cooper, who is also a town councillor, said: “We thought it was the best way as it was the 11th of the 11th - it was the ideal time.

“I do not want to see it close but on the other hand if we cannot get the members we cannot keep it going. I said when it closed I would never go to another branch but I will help any ex-service men.”

The branch has been a sub-branch to Fressingfield for the past few years and gave the Royal British Legion’s Suffolk branch all of its remaining funds - a total of £1,000 - when it closed.

Eye town mayor, Merlin Carr said: “It will be a shame not to have them parading with us.

“Alan has brought the situation up on many occasions. We had a very big turnout on Remembrance Sunday and it’s definitely sad that next year there will not be the standard carrier.”

The women’s section of the Royal British Legion Branch in Eye will continue to operate.

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