British Legion

A Brief History of Kirby Muxloe Women’s Section British Legion 1946 – 1995

British Legion Men's parade

British Legion parade (Men's Branch)

British Legion Women's parade

British Legion parade (Women's Branch)

Photos courtesy The Will Walker Collection

Kirby Muxloe British Legion was first formed in 1921 and held their meetings and social events in the room upstairs at The Royal Oak Public House. The ladies had always helped with Legion work and the Poppy Appeal, but it wasn’t until the end of WW2 that the Women’s section was formed.

Success came very quickly, with many dedicated ladies, including Doris Henson and Alice Ball, and by 1956 the group had 304 members on the register. They won numerous cups at both county and area level, including the Chairman’s Cup at the National Conference.

The first standard bearer was Alice Ball, followed by her daughter Muriel Price, and later by Kath Snow, all of them being successful in county standard bearer competitions.

In the late sixties, the Royal Oak was demolished and replaced by the Spanish Blade, and the Legion lost their meeting room, starting the decline in both branch and women’s sections. The ladies started to meet in the Primary School, with the committee meetings being held in the homes of members. One example of this was in the home of Ann Forman on Main Street where fund raising bingo sessions were held.

From "Kirby Cameos": Something which my mother was notable for in the late 1960’s and for most of the 1970’s was the regular bingo sessions which she used to hold, as a means of raising funds for the Women’s Section of the British Legion, when all available rooms in the bungalow seemed to be filled with people, whilst the bingo caller occupied a central position in the hall.

Following school cutbacks, a new venue was sought for meetings, and for a while they were held in the Church Hall, but when the Youth Group was formed, yet again the ladies were without a meeting room.

The Chairman at this time was Mrs Dorothy Fowkes (Dotty), who was trying to keep the group going, but as her fellow officers lost interest, she announced the closure of the Kirby Women’s section at a Secretary’s Reports meeting in 1980. It was then that Joan Bloomfield and Kath Snow stepped in and contacted Mrs M Brutnell, the county chairman, who suggested a meeting of the members be called at their home, Wisteria Cottage. Twelve members attended this meeting who all wanted the group to continue, so a recruiting drive then began and membership gradually increased, with members still meeting at the home of Kath and Joan. Their first open day was held in 1981 in the garden of Wisteria Cottage, and the group were thrilled to have raised £117.00.

Interest blossomed, and members began to attend county events. In 1984 the main branch was about to close, and the women’s section took over the organisation of the Poppy appeal.

In 1987 the group hosted the county conference, and continued with their annual open day.

In August 1994 the group hosted the county purse presentation in the community centre, and over 200 county members attended.

By this time the group had outgrown Kath and Joan’s upstairs flat, and after holding coffee mornings in the homes of various members, which split the group considerably, they hired the parish council chamber. This proved to be a very successful move with 23 members attending the first meeting. This number quickly rose to 38, with many more ladies showing an active interest.

The British Legion Women’s Section celebrated their 50th anniversary on 19th September 1996.

By 2001, when Kath and Joan moved to Carey Gardens, the group was very small, and they joined the Market Bosworth Women’s Section. Following the closure of this section, Kath and Joan being the only two remaining members from Kirby, they joined the holding branch at St James, London.

Poppy Appeal : There had been a poppy appeal in Kirby Muxloe since 1921 when the Royal British Legion Branch was formed.

When the men’s branch closed in 1984, Joan became the Poppy organizer for Kirby Muxloe and district, and continued until 2012 when Graham and Ellen Hillier joined her with the task.

Sadly, Kath passed away in August 2013.

Author: Joan Bloomfield