General The Lord Dannatt speaks at the Royal British Legion’s annual Norfolk conference

The importance of service charities 'marching in step together' was highlighted at the Royal British Legion's annual conference in Norfolk.

Members from the RBL's Norfolk branches gathered at County Hall in Norwich on Saturday for the RBL's 89th Annual Meeting of County Conference.

General The Lord Dannatt, former head of the British Army and the Norfolk RBL's patron, spoke of the importance of military charities working together to look after injured service personnel, veterans and bereaved families, and he described the RBL as the leader and the framework within which all these charities operate.

'All the charities should march in step together,' he said, adding that a lot of the charities have very important specialist roles.

He spoke of how the world is an uncertain and unstable place and the sad inevitability that soldiers' lives will be lost and soldiers' lives will be changed, and he said the RBL has always stepped up to the challenge of helping those affected in conflict.

'The RBL has had a very important past, it has got a very important present, and it will have a very important future as well,' he said.

Lord Dannatt also highlighted the campaigning power of the RBL in particular with regards to the Armed Forces Covenant and the need for a chief coroner to improve the handling of inquiries into military deaths.

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John Crisford, the RBL's national vice chairman, said 2011 - the RBL's 90th anniversary - had been a very special year for the Legion.

'The scope and scale of what we constantly achieve is really quite awesome and we should be rightly proud of all that we have achieved by working together in the true spirit of comradeship,' he said, adding that 2012 promises to be an equally busy and challenging year, with the RBL's relevance to the existing Armed Forces community more vital than ever before.

'We are embarking on an ambitious programme of engagement with all three services at a range of different levels to ensure that the RBL remains firmly on their radar as a first point of call for help, advice and practical support,' he said.

Also at the conference, the new county standard was dedicated and new county chairman Major Bill Kerr was formally appointed. Outgoing county chairman Lt Col Colin Kemp received the The President Award for outstanding contribution.

Other people and RBL branches to receive awards were:

• For five years continuous progress: Thetford, and Sedgeford and District.

• For progress and efficiency over the past year: Fakenham and District, and Sedgford and District.

• For service and benevolent work: King's Lynn and District.

• For outstanding contribution to the county as a group: Group 12 from Great Yarmouth.

• For retention and recruitment: Downham and District, and Blakeney, Cley and District, and Castle Acre.

• Poppy Appeal Awards for outstanding fundraising: Norwich, Hellesdon, and Tom Blanchflower from Downham and District.

• War Memorial Awards: League of Friends of North Walsham Memorial Cottage Hospital and the NHS Trust (best kept memorial), and Downham and District (most improved memorial).

• Standard bearer awards: Fred Scott from Stalham and District, and John Moran from Middleton and District

• The Chairman's Award for outstanding contribution to the county: Roy Hill

• A special award was also given to Paul McGrath from the Aylsham Branch.


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