Our chairman Martyn Hawthorn explains how we hope to celebrate the centenary of Legion Scotland and what this milestone means for the organisation.

It is 100 years this summer since Legion Scotland (then the British Legion) was founded. Why is this anniversary so important?

 A lot has happened since Legion Scotland was founded 100 years ago. There have been conflicts all over the world and it is very important that all veterans be remembered. Comradeship is still a key factor for Legion Scotland and that is why this anniversary is so very important, especially in these difficult and trying times.


How do you hope we will be able to celebrate?

 At this moment in time, it’s hard to say exactly how we’re going to celebrate. We have been working on plans for over a year but Covid-19 has meant that we have to have a Plan A, a Plan B and even a Plan C, as we just don’t know at this moment in time if any of the events planned will be allowed to proceed. The situation regarding Covid-19 changes on a regular basis and we have to be flexible in our approach to events and event planning. We are considering all options at the moment.


Is there a main event planned?

 There was a main event planned at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh as that was where the first event took place in June 1921. At this moment in time we just don’t know if it will go ahead. The hall is booked and various people approached to be part of the event but we are waiting to see if we are allowed to proceed. It may mean that we have to move all planned events until after the summer in the hope that by then the virus is under control.

 An event was being planned for Founders’ Day at Dryburgh Abbey too, but circumstances may prevent this happening as we would like. Again, we are considering all options until we know what we are allowed to do.


How do you think Legion Scotland has evolved in the past 100 years? Are its aims the same?

 The aims of Legion Scotland remain the same, but as we pass 100 years we must move with the times and also make Legion Scotland attractive to younger men and women leaving the Armed Forces. There are so many challenges for ex-servicemen or women to consider, such as housing, jobs, schools for the children, and so on. Legion Scotland has to be there to help them, so we must become more proactive.


Looking ahead, what do you think is most important for Legion Scotland?

 Membership is an area that is so important. We have an excellent Membership Committee under the leadership of the National Vice Chairman, Davie Paton. The group are looking at all aspects of membership including cadet membership, to name just one area being considered at the moment. Legion Scotland members and friends do such a lot of excellent work in the community not just for Legionnaires but also the community in general. They go about their work with dedication and professionalism but sadly often go unnoticed, and we want to change that.

 We have been very fortunate to have an excellent and very supportive President in Lt General Sir Alistair Irwin KCB CBE who has been in office some 14 years.

 The National Board of Trustees (NBT) work so hard to promote and give guidance to fellow Legionnaires. Their dedication to duty is second to none.

 We also have an excellent staff at Head Office under the leadership of the CEO, Dr Claire Armstrong. During these difficult and testing times all the staff have gone above and beyond. Nothing is ever too much trouble and they all enjoy being there to help and assist Legionnaires and friends as and when needed.