Late Royal British Legion stalwart is honoured at Poppy Appeal launch

The Bitton & Oldland branch of the Royal British Legion launched their annual Poppy Appeal at the Garden of Remembrance at Payne Green in Barrs Court today.

During the service a memorial plaque was unveiled in honour of local man Graham Downing CBE, who received his honour from the Queen for his commitment to the Royal British Legion.

In 1992 Mr Downing became the Legion’s national vice-chairman and from 1995 to 1998 served as national chairman, representing the Legion at many national events including the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall.

He organised the annual Poppy Appeal Asda in Longwell Green over the best part of two decades. He was also a member of Oldland Parish Council for many years, serving as both vice chairman and chairman. He died in April 2020.

Graham’s family at the bench following the unveiling of the memorial plaque

This morning’s ceremony at the Garden of Remembrance was attended by representatives of both Oldland and Bitton parish councils, local Legion members, branch padre the Rev Steve Britton, the Commanding Officer of 243 Field Hospital in Keynsham Colonel Caroline Whittle, and several members of Mr Downing’s family.

A short service was led by the Rev Britton during which there was a two-minute silence. The Last Post and Reveille were sounded and wreaths were laid.

Dedicating the memorial plaque, on the bench that had been placed in the garden in 2018 to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, the Rev Britton said that Graham Downing had faithfully served the Royal British Legion both locally and nationally for many years, working tirelessly to help servicemen and women and their dependents.