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Ancient Foresters: Bermondsey pub to host new British Legion branch

A Bermondsey pub is going to host a new local branch of the Royal British Legion, and will hold a launch party this Saturday night, July 17, celebrating the organisation’s hundred-year anniversary.

Sandra Smith, the landlady of the Ancient Foresters on Southwark Park Road, said she wants “to create a bit more of a community round here”. The party on Saturday night will feature food, drink and “old war songs”, she said. It will also be an opportunity for people to learn about the Royal British Legion and sign up.

The Bermondsey branch of the group, which supports former Armed Forces members, will then hold their monthly meetings at the Ancient Foresters. Sandra also wants to hold events about every three months.

“We want to do something for the older people,” she said. “There aren’t many places for them to go to anymore.

“Before my day there were lots of factories around here. A lot of people around here either worked in Hartley’s Jam, Peek Freans or Shuttleworth’s next door.. They say ‘we had this, we had that’. They had coach trips. There’s nothing like that now. A lot of old people get cabs here. They don’t want to walk back home. We want to build up that sense of community more.

“If we can put a couple of evening functions on during the year, and some things during the day that would be great,” she said.

“Some of the pensioners that don’t like coming out of a night, they can come to a legion do of an afternoon and have lunch.”

Sandra said members would thrash out more plans for events at the monthly meetings. “Someone said we could have Saturday nights as fancy dress. If you get people to dress up it’s a bit of a laugh.

“It’s really good Saturday night anyway – we play all the old songs, some people get up and have a dance, you get others sitting down waving their arms about.”

Anyone can join the Royal British Legion: you don’t have to belong to the forces. Both men and women are welcome. Although Sandra expects the people who sign up to mainly be older, younger people are also welcome to join.

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