Her Majesty The Queen marks Royal British Legion Industries’ centenary
Thousands of local school children, residents and supporters welcomed Her Majesty The Queen to Royal British Legion Industries’ (RBLI) village at Aylesford in November, when she marked the charity’s 100th anniversary. Gullands Chairman Blair Gulland, a trustee of RBLI attended and was one of the team who showed The Queen around.
The Queen officially opened Appleton Lodge, RBLI’s new luxury care facility for veterans and their families. The building was named after First World War Sister Edith Appleton, OBE, who was born in Kent and awarded the Royal Red Cross for nursing on the front line during the Great War.
The new care home is part of the £22 million Centenary Village development which, when complete, will provide crucial homes, welfare support and create a community for the country’s most vulnerable veterans.
RBLI, which was formed in 1919 to provide support to sick and wounded soldiers returning from the First World War, launched a campaign in 2019 to build the Centenary Village – a veterans’ community comprising family homes, assisted-living apartments and a community centre, which the charity says will see them support hundreds of the most in-need ex-servicemen and women every year for another century.
Work will begin immediately on the second phase of the Centenary Village. When complete, the latest development will add a further 22 apartments, each designed to be fully accessible and house single veterans in urgent need, plus 18 new family homes, and 24 assisted-living apartments. At the heart of the new development, which will sit alongside RBLI’s existing village, care homes and manufacturing facility in Kent, will be a state-of-the-art community centre with an accessible gym.
The Queen was also introduced to RBLI representatives from the charity’s on-site social enterprise, Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company (BBMC) and the Employment Solutions and LifeWorks teams. The BBMC factory, which employs 70 veterans and people with disability, produces road and rail signs, and wooden products.
Brigadier Steve Sherry CMG OBE, Chief Executive of Royal British Legion Industries, said: “One hundred years ago, a group of philanthropists and forward thinkers came together to set up a community encompassing homes, welfare and employment to support vulnerable veterans. We’re immensely proud to still be doing this today.
“This century of experience has culminated in our most ambitious project yet, the Centenary Village, which will place us at the very forefront of veteran support, ensuring RBLI is there for those who need us most for another century to come.
“Whilst we have moved closer towards our goal, we are still not there yet. We are delighted that Her Majesty’s attendance marks the beginning of the next stage of this exciting development.
“We still require the support necessary to complete this nationally significant project, to ensure veterans both young and old have a community to turn to for the next 100 years.”
RBLI has raised £16.5 million of the £22 million needed to complete the Centenary Village project. To learn more about the project, visit: www.rbli.co.uk/centenaryvillage