Downham Market celebrates 90th anniversary of Royal British Legion with military parade

General Lord Richard Dannatt takes salute as Norfolk MP Liz Truss joins borough Mayor and civic dignitaries at birthday parade and service led by the Bishop of Ely

Crowds of supporters greeted a military parade in Downham Market on Sunday to mark the 90th anniversary of the town's Royal British Legion branch.

Former head of the armed forces, General Lord Richard Dannatt, was among top military representatives at the event which culminated in a church service.

He took the salute and was joined by the commanding officer at RAF Marham, Gp Capt David Cooper, Capt Gavin Rushmere of the Royal Anglian Regiment and Downham RBL president John Doyle.

The parade marched past them at the town's War Memorial where the Hilgay Silver Band provided the music.

Standard bearers from around the county were joined by a contingent from RAF Marham, army cadets, members of the Air Training Corps and veterans' associations for the parade which formed-up near the town clock.

Members of the public showed their support for the military and lined the route from the Market Place to the parish church.

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SW Norfolk MP Liz Truss, West Norfolk Borough Mayor Colin Sampson and other civic dignitaries also joined the procession.

Roads through the town were closed briefly while the parade made its way to St Edmund's Church for a service led by the Bishop of Ely the Rt Rev Stephen Conway.

A guard of honour from RAF Marham was formed outside the door as members of the parade made their way into the church.

During the service, Lord Dannatt attached a 90-year pennant to the Downham Market Royal British Legion standard before it was blessed by the Bishop.

The parade followed a celebratory dinner in the town hall on Saturday night where the guest speaker was Wing Cmmdr Andy Turk, commanding officer of IX Squadron based at RAF Marham.

Mr Doyle, who served in the Royal Navy, said the weekend's celebrations had taken a lot of planning but had proved successful.

'The people here are very supportive,' he said.

The Downham branch of the RBL was formed around March 22 1922. The national organisation began life in 1921, when the first poppy day was held, and was established to care for those affected by the first world war at a time when more than two million were unemployed and 1.75 million had returned from the trenches disabled.

The legion spent �72m last year helping the armed forces community and cared for 160,000 beneficiaries.

There are currently around 2,500 branches around the world.

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