Women’s section of RBL folds

The final meeting of the Portadown's women's section. INPT03
The final meeting of the Portadown's women's section. INPT03

The Royal British Legion (RBL) women’s section in Portadown has stood down - after 67 years in existence.

The 36 members have voted unanimously to close the branch as the result of a national diktat.

Section chairman Noell Crawford, who was also NI chairman, told the Portadown Times that “more than half the branches in the province and all over the UK” had done likewise.

She emphasised that the town’s general RBL Branch was unhappy at the move from London – and that the members at Thomas Street fully supported them.

“We remain branch members of Portadown,” said Noell. “We feel that the decision has been forced upon us.

“It’s all down to finance. They feel we’re not cost effective.”

The saddest woman on the night the branch closed was 87-year-old president Martha Reaney, who has been in the ranks since it was founded in 1949.

Martha, who was in tears, said, “I’ve made so many friends here and it’s terrible that it has come to this. We’ve had great friendship from the start, and this decision has been made from London by people who don’t seem to understand what it means to us and the hard work we have done.”

Over the years, members of the hard-working branch have been prolific fundraisers and the organising 
force behind many events.

“They amalgamated the women’s section into the RBL, because the new membership payment system changed, and they lost a lot of members,” said Noell.

“They weren’t geared up for the change, but saw that the women’s section was still making money and took the decision to amalgamate.”

It is estimated that half the UK’s 32.000 women’s section members will have left by mid-November 2017 when the decision comes into effect.

It was scheduled to come into effect last October, but the board of trustees put it