Royal British Legion’s 90th birthday marked around Norfolk

King's Lynn, Great Yarmouth, Thetford, Beccles, Dickleburgh and North Walsham all join the party

Glasses were raised around the region as the Royal British Legion (RBL) celebrated its 90th birthday with a variety of events over the weekend.

Celebrations were held across Norfolk to both mark the achievement and raise the profile of a charity which started out helping servicemen and their families after the first world war.

The county raised almost �600,000 during last year's poppy appeal and spent �400,000 on welfare in Norfolk. Nationally the RBL spends more than �1m a week delivering welfare and the charity is aiming to raise �90 million.

In King's Lynn a poppy party was held in The Walks on Saturday when the RBL was joined by a variety of other charity stalls. Arena displays and entertainment were also provided throughout the day.

Branch president Gerry Tann said it had been a great success, with new members signing-up and lots of interest in the work of the RBL.

'Some people were amazed at the work we do and the money we need to raise,' he said.

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Thetford's branch is one of those in Norfolk which marked its 90th birthday at the weekend - and a range of events took place on the town's Market Place to mark the occasion.

Children's games, tombolas and information displays were all on offer while the nearby club had its doors open all day.

'It went really well - it was absolutely packed in the club, which is exactly what we needed,' said Nathan Arbon, who runs the bar.

'We had ten to 15 new applications handed-in which was good and it really raised the profile of the legion and the club,' he added.

In Great Yarmouth, MP Brandon Lewis hosted a poppy party in a marquee pitched in the town's Market Square where people were able to enjoy tea and cakes.

'The party was a fantastic opportunity for me to express my support for the legion; which is a truly amazing national institution. It went really well and it was heartwarming to see so many people taking part,' he said.

The town also hosted a sell-out charity ball on Saturday evening at the racecourse.

In Beccles there was a fete on the Quay on Saturday in support of the poppy weekend. The fundraising event included demonstrations by cadets, Beccles rugby juniors, firefighters, and a dog display.

In Stokesby, near Great Yarmouth, Malcolm Lake organised a sponsored riverside walk to Fleggburgh and back Sunday afternoon. The walk was attended by Bruno Peek who organised the national poppy party campaign.

Dickleburgh, near Diss, hosted an all-day event on Saturday when various attractions, including themed flower displays, stalls and music were part of the fun. The evening saw a 1940s dance in the village centre.

Yesterday a parade left the village centre and headed to All Saints Church for a service which was followed by events at Townlands Meadow.

Upwell, near Downham Market, staged a poppy party yesterday, including a car boot sale on the village playing field.

Around 300 people packed North Walsham's Orchard Gardens pub this afternoon for a Mini Festival of the Past in aid of the RBL which included a visit by 1960s stars from Norwich's former Firs speedway stadium whose old bikes and memorabilia were admired, together with classic cars and vintage tractors.

The event also saw Mick Starling overfly the pub in a microlight, giving punters a chance to guess his height, with proceeds to the cause. Local historian Mike Ling displayed old photos, north Norfolk MP Norman Lamb drew the raffle and this evening Norfolk comedian Pat Nearney is due to perform, with a 1960s' disco planned as well. Organiser Alan Rose said he was delighted at the turnout.

Sunday lunchtime saw RBL members pack North Walsham's Three Cottages restaurant for a fund-raising fish and chip meal and owner David Audley was also donating today's take-away takings to the appeal.

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