National recognition for Royal British Legion branch

The Lowestoft and District branch of the Royal British Legion has collected two national awards. Pic

The Lowestoft and District branch of the Royal British Legion has collected two national awards. Picture: Thomas Chapman - Credit: Archant

A regional branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL) is celebrating after collecting a pair of national awards.

The Lowestoft and District branch of the RBL was recognised for its efforts over the past 12 months with the Jellicoe Cup, awarded to a branch for its enthusiasm and determination to further the aims of the charity.

Presented at the RBL's annual conference in Belfast last month, the cup also salutes the branch for increasing the visibility of its services and delivering a range of activities under the Branch Community Support scheme - designed to meet the support requirements of the armed forces community.

There was further success when Les Jackson, vice chairman of the branch, was awarded the Downing Shield which is given to an individual member who has played an important part in the delivery of the support scheme.

The gongs were collected at the awards ceremony by Suffolk RBL vice chairman, Ken Rowbottom.

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'We were absolutely over the moon to find out we'd won the awards,' said Mr Jackson. 'We've been recognised at the Stars of Norfolk and Waveney awards before, but to get these as well is amazing.

'Our drop-in centre is somewhere that members of the armed forces community can go if they have a problem and we can provide them with a way to move forward. It's such a great feeling to help these people when they don't know where else to go.'

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Prior to the opening of its current premises, branch members had temporary use of Lowestoft's Britten Centre and were struck by the sheer number of people who approached them with problems.

After a three-month trial saw the branch give advice and support to 114 individuals, the need to find a permanent base became evident and they opened a drop-in centre on Regent Road in January 2016. Since then the branch has helped more than 3000 people.

'Having the drop-in centre is great because people can just walk past and pop in for a tea and a chat,' added Mr Jackson. 'Once you have that initial chat, you often find out there is a problem and you can help them find a solution.

'We deal with housing issues, alcoholism; post-traumatic stress disorder is obviously a massive thing as well. It's all about letting people know that they're not alone.'

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