A DEDICATED team has succeeded in officially bringing the Royal British Legion (RBL) branch back to Thornbury.

The local branch closed in September 2008 but attempts were made to revive it in the town last year.

The branch has welcomed the good news from the RBL Membership Council which has now officially confirmed the formation of Thornbury and District RBL.

The organisation is the country’s leading Armed Forces charity, consisting of a network of branches and clubs which gather for socialising, fundraising and welfare activities.

As well as taking on responsibilities for remembrance services, the RBL ensures ex-service communities have a voice in their communities.

Andrew Cooper, former chairman of the Dursley and Cam RBL, has been involved in the organisation for 22 years and played a leading role in bringing the branch back to Thornbury.

He said: “What we’ve done, unusually, is established a new branch after the previous one folded.

“It was a shame to have lost the branch and not have any in Thornbury when there was a large ex-service group here."

Mr Cooper added: “The RBL is an organisation which raises money for people who were in the armed forces and their dependents. A lot of lives have been lost in the wars over the past 100 years or so and we shouldn’t forget this. The fact that the Thornbury branch has been reinstaed in the centenary year is just a coincidence.”

He spent the last number of months leading the campaign to revive the RBL in Thornbury and has been helped by Janice Jackson and Jeff Evans.

“Janice came out with me on the streets a couple of times and made contact with loads of people as she is the poppy appeal organiser for Thornbury. Jeff worked with me on the Dursley and Cam branch. He works in St Mary Shopping Centre so he knows a lot of people in Thornbury. He can spot the ex-servicemen walking down the street. Between the three of us we rallied enough people together to show there was a need for a Thornbury branch.”

In order to instigate a branch, a minimum number of 15 people at a meeting are required to attend a meeting. Over 26 people attended a meeting last September showing how strong feelings were in the community that the branch should go ahead.

Mr Cooper said: “We can run our own bank account and conduct our business as a fully recognised and approved Royal British Legion branch.”

The Thornbury British Legion will meet on the last Sunday of the month at the Swan Inn on High Street at 12pm.

The inaugural dinner for the new Thornbury and District Branch will be on Saturday, March 15 at the Alveston House Hotel (7.30pm for 8pm) and tickets are £25 per person.

Menu choices will be distributed in the next few days and all those going are asked to pay branch treasurer, Clive Merrick at the next branch meeting in cash if possible. Members who can't attend that meeting and want to go to the dinner contact Mr Cooper on 07779 124933.

Follow Thornbury and District Royal British Legion Facebook page for more information and updates.