Laying of the flag marks end of era

The standard bearers before the service and (below) the standard is 'laid up' for the final time.

The standard bearers before the service and (below) the standard is 'laid up' for the final time.

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Heads bowed in silent reflection, members of South Blackpool’s Royal British Legion laid up the standard for the final time.

South Shore’s branch has been meeting for 40 years, but chairman Keith Jones says age has got the better of it, and the group was disbanded with a final remembrance service at Holy Trinity Church on Sunday.

The standard is 'laid up' for the final time.

The standard is 'laid up' for the final time.

During the service the branch standard was laid up, and it will remain on display in the church.

Mr Jones, chairman and standard bearer, said: “This closure has been brought about by old age. We don’t have enough people to serve on the committee and take on the work to keep the branch alive. For our members, more than one tear was shed as the standard was laid up because of its history. It is sad to see the branch close, but there was nothing else we could do.”

During the service at the church on Dean Street the members led a procession to the altar, which included standards from other parts of the country.

The last post was played and the congregation held a silence as a mark of respect.

The Rev Tracy Charnock said: “It was a lovely service for the members of the Royal British Legion. For quite a few it was a very emotional time, marking the end of their gatherings.”

Mr Jones added: “We have been well supported by schools, shops, hotels and the general public for supporting the Poppy Appeal over the many years. Also, a special thanks to all the supermarkets who have faithfully stood by us.”

Some South Shore members have joined other branches in the district.

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A potted history of the South Shore branch

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The South Blackpool branch of the Royal British Legion was formed in the back of Stacey’s Greengrocers on Highfield Road in 1973.

At the end of the first year, it had 34 members, paying 65p a year.

The branch moved to the Kite Club at the Airport, and later to Blesma Home.

Membership slowed in 1974, with 14 members joining, but it picked up in the 1980s when the branch moved to Gill Court.

On May 1983 Joe Pidgeon joined and started the group’s successful social events and trips.

The branch retuned to Blesma, where it stayed out the rest of its days.

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