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British Legion branch saved by the 'miracle' power of the press

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 07, 2013

By Simon Parker

Standard bearer Peter Hancock in what was to be the final Remembrance Day parade in Boscastle, before the Western Morning News and other newspapers helped to publicise the demise of the local Legion

Standard bearer Peter Hancock in what was to be the final Remembrance Day parade in Boscastle, before the Western Morning News and other newspapers helped to publicise the demise of the local Legion

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A Cornish village's Remembrance Day parade has been saved thanks to what organisers describe as the "power of the local press working a miracle".

When a lone bugler sounded the Last Post over Boscastle's annual commemoration of the fallen last month it was feared the event would not be held again.

The situation, which came about after the local Royal British Legion branch was forced to fold through lack of members, was reported in the Western Morning News on November 12, under the headline: "Last Post sounded for village remembrance". The article revealed that the organisation had insufficient members even to form a committee and had no option but to close. Its standard was laid up at Forrabury Church.

However, as a result of the publicity, the group of ex- service personnel now boasts a healthy membership, a full committee, and a commitment to keep Boscastle's Remembrance Day parade going.

Standard-bearer and treasurer, Peter Hancock, said: "The power of the local press has worked a miracle. Without the support of the Western Morning News, Cornish Guardian and Cornish & Devon Post we wouldn't be back in business."

Boscastle-born Mr Hancock explained that following the article, he and fellow members had been inundated with offers of help. Ex-service men and women, along with members of the community with no personal experience of the armed forces, rallied to the cause.

"All hell was let loose, to be honest, and all of a sudden we had a great surge of interest," he said. "People said it couldn't be allowed to happen – but in fact it already had and the branch was winding up.

"An emergency meeting held in the village proved that those who contacted us were as good as their word and we now have 17 new members and enough willing committee members. We have therefore made the decision to rescind the closure.

"We thought we'd tried everything and even did a door-to-door mail drop appealing for members, but without any success whatsoever.

"The turnout at this year's Remembrance Day parade was fantastic, but most people did not understand that without the Legion's presence there would be no focus and that it could not go ahead unless someone organised it and arranged insurance.

"Fortunately, our friends in the local press came to the rescue and we now have a healthy branch once again."

The Boscastle branch of the Royal British Legion will be holding its AGM next Monday at 7.30pm in the Methodist Church schoolroom. It is open to all. Anyone interested in joining, but unable to attend the meeting, can call Peter Hancock on 01566-777825 or Bob Pethick on 01840-250664.

"It's important to remember that you don't need any forces background to become a member of the Legion," added Mr Hancock, who served in the RAF. "All that you need is to be in agreement with its objectives."

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