Over the course of the year, with the support of the community, the Saltcoats Ardrossan and Stevenston Branch of the Royal British Legion Scotland (RBLS) held and participated in several remembrance services and events.

In January there was the Holocaust Memorial, which is a national commemoration day in the United Kingdom dedicated to remembrance of the Liberation of Auschwitz.

In March the community along with Provost Ian Clarkson, Deputy Provost Robert Batt and local councillors, joined with the HMS Dasher Association to hold its annual memorial service and parade in Ardrossan. The month of May saw members joining the Millport RBLS branch to commemorate Merchant Navy Day over on Great Cumbrae. In June we participated in the remembrance parade at Scotland’s Korean War Memorial in Bathgate (pictured above) followed later that month taking part in the Armed Forces Day Parade where the branch joined the Irvine RBLS branch. September marked the 80th anniversary of the invasion of Poland with the branch invited to parade branch colours and participate in the commemoration service at General Sikorsky House in Kelvingrove, Glasgow. The Three Towns’ own annual remembrance parade held in November was very well attended by the community in showing their respect for the fallen during the commemoration service which included the presence of a number of horses to signify and reflect the inclusive theme of remembrance. Along with the nation, the branch also commemorated VE and VJ days.

One of many social events that the Legion undertook during 2019 was the Easter egg delivery to our three town care homes and Stevenston Hayock Community Centre (pictured right). The D Day dance was held in June to commemorate the 75th anniversary (pictured left). Members and the community enjoyed the company of many acts of entertainment and the food was supplied by local restaurants and food outlets.

Ardrossan Highland Games was another successful event that was well received by the public, as the weather held this year to make it a memorable one. The Legion led the parade and the vehicle made a nice addition to the stall this year, thank you Saltcoats Community Council for the loan of it.

During the year, members of the branch worked with many of the Three Towns’ local community in raising funds so that members can help and assist veterans and their families. Support when asked for from veterans families. The Legion has been in all supermarkets raising funds with the help of our community. We would like to say thank you for all your donations and support during 2019.

In 2019 the legion approached the UK Veterans Foundation for support to take members of the Legion and their families to visit the Nation Memorial Arboretum (pictured top right). The overwhelming successes of the visit were tremendous. Legion members said it was an experience they thought they would never see or enjoy because of the cost and distance. Whilst members were at the Arboretum there was a parade for those that had severed in Northern Ireland (pictured far right). Members from all the branches who served were honoured to take part.

There was plenty of time to roam the different aspects of memorials and in some cases, placing our wreaths and crosses with private solemn thoughts. The Polish aerial display was totally unexpected but was the perfect ending to our visit. We are sure more than a few of us had a tear in their eye at some time during the day.

Our trip would not have been possible without the funding we received from UK Veterans Foundation, so a big thank you to them. We hope everyone took away some personal and special memories to reflect on what made the journey worthwhile.

Arrangements were made back in September, for Music in Hospitals and Care to come along to the Masonic Hall in Saltcoats to deliver a pilot of their songwriting workshop programme which is part of the Unforgotten Forces consortium (pictured bottom right). The session aimed to hopefully come up with a song which could be used on the local 3TFM Veterans Voices Programme. Parts of the session were recorded and some veterans were interviewed so that we could contribute material for the Veterans Voices Radio Programme. Project co-ordinator Vina Oberlander explained about the Play it Again (SAV) project and introduced the concept of the workshop to the veterans and family members present (branch members and non-members) and then handed over to musician Jason Sweeney who led a short sing-song to break the ice and get everyone warmed up. Well, the project was very successful the song written and at some point in 2020, it will be played on 3TFM radio.

We, the members of Saltcoats, Ardrossan and Stevenston would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all in our community for your help, support and assistance given to us during the year of 2019. Your support has allowed the branch to grow from being small in number to three times its size, with membership back up to the days of 1980. Your support has made that happen and our veterans from the Three Towns appreciate what you have done. All our veterans young and old would like to wish everyone in our community and Happy, prosperous New Year and we thank you all so very much.