RBL war memorial rededicated

This Is Wiltshire: Back, Geoff Simpkins, of Purton RBL, Gordon Longmore, of Salisbury RBL, Martin Gardiner, of Stratton RBL and Laura O’Sullivan, of Penhill RBL. Front, Cubs and Scouts from the 2nd Swindon Scout Group at the re-dedication of the war memorial at St Peter Back, Geoff Simpkins, of Purton RBL, Gordon Longmore, of Salisbury RBL, Martin Gardiner, of Stratton RBL and Laura O’Sullivan, of Penhill RBL. Front, Cubs and Scouts from the 2nd Swindon Scout Group at the re-dedication of the war memorial at St Peter

A WAR memorial saved from demolition has been rededicated in a service which ushers in a new era for a military charity in Penhill.

The cenotaph which was outside the former Penhill Royal British Legion club in Downton Road for more than 40 years was at the centre of a service at St Peter’s Church, in Penhill Drive, on Saturday.

The ceremony was attended by more than 60 members of the community, who watched as the Rev Carol Anne Stone led hymns, made readings and conducted prayers.

The re-siting of the memorial was the product of work by members of the Penhill branch, the RBL’s county officers and representatives from the church, who did not want to lose the memorial when the now derelict RBL club was demolished.

The changeover and restoration was carried out at a cost of £6,000, £2,500 of which was covered by a grant from the War Memorials Trust and the remainder by the RBL.

The permanence of its new home could help strengthen the long term future of the Penhill RBL branch.

Members of RBL branches from Salisbury, Purton and Stratton attended the ceremony, bearing their standards in the service, which underlines the credibility of the Penhill group according to one senior member.

Tim O’Sullivan, 52, of Avebury Avenue, a Penhill branch member, said: “I am very, very proud.

“This was something that had to be done.

“It means so much to the people of Penhill and now it’s done I think you can see it’s all been cleaned up and restored. It looks really impressive.

“The three other branches turning up shows there is still some care for Penhill, even though it’s a very tiny branch.

“We are trying to rebuild it. We are very excited because the club now has a safe and permanent home.”

Tim also said the Rev Stone had agreed to allow the branch to use St Peter’s as its base free of charge, with plans afoot to make the cenotaph the centre of a Remembrance Sunday service in three weeks.

The Rev Stone said: “We are thrilled to have it restored on the grounds of St Peter’s Church because we are the heart of the community here.

“With it being on the site of the old British Legion club we just needed, as a community, to cherish that monument and give it a permanent home.”

Mike Swabey, the county chairman of the RBL, said: “There was great concern when the club itself closed and about what would happen to the existing memorial.

“I was very pleased to work with the branch to enable it to save this memorial and continue to remember the fallen of Penhill.”

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