Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, members of Dumfries and Maxwelltown branch have made an extra effort to keep in touch and look out for each other.

While remaining socially distanced, branch members joined forces with Veterans Garden Dumfries to work on the upkeep of the green space.

They fed the hens and ducks, collected eggs and looked after the vegetable plots. A lot of the produce from the gardens went to the elderly in the local area who were at that time in lockdown.

As was the case across the country, many events that had been planned by the branch had to be cancelled, some at the last minute.

One event that did go ahead was a virtual Remembrance Festival recorded in Crichton Church and organised by the branch in conjunction with the King’s Own Scottish Borders Association, Veterans Garden Dumfries and organisers of the Dumfries Tattoo. Everyone taking part was given a time slot to appear and the completed film was released by Veterans Garden Dumfries on 1 November.

Meanwhile the Poppy Appeal in Dumfries, which is organised by branch President Major William Turner MC, went ahead as planned but COVID-19 restrictions did have an effect on the total raised due to the fact that pubs and non-essential shops were closed.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom as larger supermarkets including Tesco and Morrisons got behind the appeal, for which the branch is extremely grateful.

A Plan B had been put in place for a restricted Armistice Service on 8 November but at the last minute the branch learned it couldn’t go ahead at all. However, those wishing to lay a wreath were instructed that they could still do this at certain set times on the day and again on 11 November.

At 10.45am on Armistice Day, a small group of ex-service personnel gathered at the Midsteeple in Dumfries town centre. Branch Padre Reverend Basil Pratt recited Beynon’s Lines and just before 11am Emma Johnstone of Dumfries Town Band played the Last Post. This brought the town centre to a standstill as everyone observed the two-minute silence, and after reveille was played the Padre gave a blessing.

These unprecedented times call for new ways of thinking and looking to the future the branch may consider doing this again when Armistice doesn’t fall on a Sunday.