New Royal British Legion chief sets out priorities for Shropshire
The new leader of the Royal British Legion in Shropshire says improving welfare, increasing membership and fostering comradeship will be his top priorities.
Ian Williams, from Ellesmere, has been elected county chairman to succeed Neil Jenkins from Clee Hill, who held the post for eight years.
The 55-year-old former soldier will represent more than 1,600 Legion members, belonging to 33 branches across Shropshire, at county, regional and national level.
He takes over as the charity prepares to celebrate its centenary next year.
“People usually associate the Royal British Legion with the Poppy Appeal and remembrance, but many don’t realise how much we do in providing financial, social and emotional support to members and veterans of our armed forces, their families and dependants," he said.
“The Legion is needed now as much as it was when it was founded in 1921 in the dark days after the First World War.
"Times may have changed, but we are committed to giving lifelong practical help to those who have bravely served their country and have often suffered physical and mental trauma in doing so, often with long-term consequences and hardship for their families."
Ian first became a Legion member in the Cockshutt branch near Ellesmere, in 1982 – the year he joined the army at 16 as an apprentice mechanic with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, working mainly on tanks.
He added: “I hope that during my term as chairman we can uphold and carry forward the founding principles of 100 years ago by strengthening our care and welfare service, fostering the spirit of comradeship among our members and encouraging more people to join the Legion.
“Of course, we never discriminate in reaching out to offer help to those in need, whether they are Legion members or not. But our numbers have been falling over the years as we lose veterans of the Second World War and later conflicts, so I hope to encourage more of today’s servicemen and women to join the Legion earlier and play an active part while they are still in the services.”
Ian completed tours of duty in the Gulf War in 1990-91, the Falklands, Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Kosovo. He also took part in major exercises in Germany, Canada and Poland, and reached the rank of sergeant before leaving the army in 2005 after 23 years’ service.
Since then he has been a member of the Legion’s Ellesmere branch, serving as secretary, branch delegate and chairman over the past 13 years before being elected branch president last November.
He works as an engineer for a large powered access company, maintaining and inspecting cherry pickers and scissor lifts, helps to run Ellesmere youth club in his spare time. and is involved with the town’s Rotary Club.
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