Annual General Meeting of the Women's Section of the Royal British Legion

Annual General Meeting of the Women's Section of the Royal British Legion

- 04/06/2017

On Saturday 3 June Mrs Janet Bowen, Lord-Lieutenant for Ross and Cromarty, Skye and Lochalsh gave the welcoming address to the Scottish AGM of the Women's Section of the Royal British Legion. In it she said:

It is a real privilege for me as a lady Lord-Lieutenant to be able to be with you wonderful ladies of the Women’s Section of the Royal British legion here in Inverness today.

I have to confess that before I became a Lord-Lieutenant some 10 years ago my knowledge of the Royal British Region was sketchy, and although that has now happily improved I also have to say that it’s very easy to overlook the absolutely vital role that women play in the Royal British Legion organisation, which makes me all the more pleased to be here with you at your annual conference, hearing more about you and learning more of what you do.

In my case the Women’s Section first came into my sights when I presented Veteran’s Badges in Dingwall and met a certain Mrs Brown, a member of the Dingwall Women’s Section and learnt what a vital role she and others like her play in the life of the Legion. From that place I have come to deeply respect the Women’s Section of the Royal British legion.

Our country is of course headed by Her Majesty the Queen, and I as another woman have the honour to represent her here in Ross and Cromarty, Skye and Lochalsh. So, quite naturally, I applaud women helping to front Royal British Legion activities. It’s good to see you in uniform on parade, it’s good to see you fundraising in a huge variety of ways, it’s good to see you at the Albert Hall in that great annual celebration of remembrance, it’s good to see you at War Memorials all over the country on Remembrance Sunday and it’s good to know of all that you do quietly and efficiently to meet the needs of servicemen and ex servicemen and their dependants.

We say that ‘we will remember them’. The difference between ladies in the street and you ladies is that you DO remember them; you walk the talk.

And, you do this in a proud tradition that stretches back 96 years to just after the First World War, when you were founded to care for the wives, women and children of men who served in the Great War. Today, the world had changed, but the needs of comradeship have not. I know that the Women’s Section raises considerable sums of money to care for those who served our country in the armed forces. Our task is to never forget, and following Iraq and Afghanistan there will be a continuing legacy of need. But, that need goes on and evolves: our present challenges now are Manchester and extremism in all its forms, but in truth in this uncertain world we have no idea where our armed forces will be called to serve, and what the calls on the Royal British Legion will be. But, be there for those who protect us, we must.

Before I stood up to speak we were led in prayer and I would like to conclude by saying how important this is and to suggest that this is something to hold fast to. The cutting edges of what you do in the Women’s Section are the same as in the armed forces: maintaining comradeship, looking after our own and always knowing that the ultimate sacrifice may be asked for. I can think of no better reasons to pray and for prayer to underpin your work.

On a lighter note, it is said that behind every successful man that there is a woman telling him he’s wrong, and I can cheerfully vouch that the opposite is true: behind every successful woman there’s a man trying to organise her to do things his way! But that does give me a chance to recognise and thank all the men who are in many ways behind all that you in the Women’s Section do.

Finally, I cannot speak here in the Highlands without pointing out the record amount raised last November in my own patch in Dingwall by our Legion Ladies, having, I understand, taken over the job from the men. Well done indeed! That’s what I call setting an example!

I wish you a happy and successful conference. It’s a pleasure to be with you. Thank you.

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