Say hello to our Events Manager!

There’s a team of 10 people working to support our CEO Dr Claire Armstrong at head office in Edinburgh. The team are also here to support you, and to that end, we are launching a new series that will tell you more about their work. 

This month, meet Brian Ward, our Events Manager who is responsible for Legion Scotland events including the national Remembrance services in November and other commemorations year-round. He is also the coordinator of the annual national sports competition, standard bearing competition, and the Best Kept War Memorial campaign. 

The former Scots Guards WO2 values working at Legion Scotland because it gives him a “link back to the forces”. 

“I enjoy the challenges of putting together one-off events from scratch in a safe and appropriate way,” Brian says. “Each event has a lot of different moving parts that all need to come together on the day and every event is challenging in its own way. 

“As we return to live events, we find ourselves in a position where there is an ever-increasing number of people required to assist us with events so that they can go ahead safely. We will shortly be asking members to put their names forward to assist us whenever they can – even if some volunteers are only able to help with one or two events in a year, it would still make a huge difference for us.” 

You can contact Brian by phoning 0131 550 1583 or emailing [email protected]

Say hello to our Events Support!

For the last two years, former cadet William Millar has been supporting Brian Ward in our events team. William will often be the person you get in touch with to RSVP an event, and he deals with a lot of the administration for events – for example, ordering wreaths and liaising with the Poppy Factory and other military charities and organisations.

 For most of that time, the world has been facing the impact of the pandemic. Now, with restrictions easing off, it’s time to think about returning to more in-person events.

 “I have enjoyed everything I have been a part of at Legion Scotland,” Millar says. “But one thing that will always stand out to me was seeing the smile on the faces of veterans and their families when we were delivering the VE/VJ 75th anniversary coins, hearing their stories of their time in the services.”

 Millar has also spoken fondly of correspondence that he and Ward received from attendees of the Legion Scotland centenary concert. “It made all the planning worthwhile,” he says.

 Already, there are plans in place for new and returning events in 2022. Such an ambitious programme will call on renewed focus in the Comradeship, Events and Remembrance team. “I think the biggest challenge we have is making each event bigger and better than the year before, and also returning to the full calendar of events of previous years.”

 If you ever want to contact the events team, call 0131 550 1562 or email [email protected]

Say hello to our Office Manager!

For the next few instalments of Meet the Team we’ll be looking at the Membership, Accounts and Administration team, which offers support across Head Office and beyond.

We start with Office Manager Gareth Laidlaw. Gareth’s responsibilities range from being a first point of contact for general enquiries, managing the team’s IT, HR and health and safety needs and acting as data protection officer, to assisting the CEO and organising the monthly email Bulletin for members.

As one of the newest members of the team, he has huge appreciation of how supportive the staff are of one another.

“The work environment is second to none," Gareth says. "Each member of the team has the focus of their role but will always step up to assist one another. This could be anything from events planning to filling envelopes. This sort of effort is a great show of just how willing the office team are in delivering success for our membership."

One of Gareth’s favourite things about his role is how public-facing it is. He explains, “As the first point of contact chatting to members of the public and community, I get first-hand experience of their queries. I then help them to manage any issues or guide them to any advice they might require.”

Gareth comes from a military family. His father served in the Royal Artillery and he worked his way up through the cadets at a young age. This experience has shaped his passion. He adds, “I’ve seen the difficulties of my father leaving the forces at a time were not many qualifications were available. I want to help resolve that divide in any way that I can within the Legion and Armed Forces community.”

To get in touch with the Membership, Accounts and Administration team, call 0131 322 1076 or email [email protected]

Say hello to our Accounts Manager!

Also in the Membership, Accounts and Administration team is Lorna Kane, Accounts Manager. 

Lorna has been with Legion Scotland for almost 25 years, and her role has changed a lot in that time. She explains: “Every day is different, as there are many aspects to working in my role, as well as dealing with day-to-day financials. I could be paying a volunteer’s expenses or helping someone sign up for a direct debit, or going along and helping with one of our events. 

“The role has changed significantly in terms of the accounting side of things. The introduction of the new membership process has seen the department implement a brand new financial system, which improves the invoicing and direct debit processes for membership. 

“Direct debits are a big focus this year, as they make things a lot easier for the organisation. Lorna adds: “We will also be encouraging branches to look at our investment portfolio and consider investing funds for the long term.”

To get in touch with the Membership, Accounts and Administration team, call 0131 322 1076 or email [email protected]

Say hello to our Accounts Support!

Alan Hayes works alongside our Accounts Manager Lorna Kane. For the last five years, Alan has been in charge of guidance on financial matters. He maintains the evaluation of area and branch accounts and assists with audits. 

Alan comes from a military family, with records showing continual service all the way back to at least the Boer War. 

“My maternal grandfather served in WW1 and was wounded in action twice,” he explains. “My paternal grandfather served in WW2, and both were with the Royal Scots. My father served for 24 years with 4th Royal Tank Regiment, 15th/19th The Kings Royal Hussars and The Scots Greys. I served for 39 years with the Royal Army Pay Corps, Adjutant Generals Corps and Intelligence Corps.” 

The job of looking after accounts is one that Alan loves. “I derive considerable satisfaction from my role within Legion Scotland,” he says. “First and foremost, I thoroughly enjoy accounting, an area in which I have considerable experience. Being able to assist branches with their accounts is a benefit to them and a pleasure for me.”


Say hello to our Database Administrator! 

Alastair manages the membership process, from new membership cards to record amendments and everything in between. He liaises closely with the Accounts Department. 

“As the role has progressed," he says, “I now have a lot more interaction with the branches and wider membership. It has been great to build up a rapport with many branch office bearers. 

“A highlight is catching up with branch officers and other members at the annual conference." 

Spending so much time looking at Legion Scotland’s data means that Alastair can unlock better ways of working. 

“I enjoy building new features and finding new solutions regarding how the database can be used currently, and in the future,” Alistair explains. “It has become a real tool for how the charity implements the services we offer to the veterans community.” 

He adds, “The past two years have had an impact on the membership figures across most of the branches, but the 21/22 membership year started strongly with branches submitting a steady number of new memberships. 

“The increase of members taking up the annual Direct Debit option to pay for their membership would help with renewal retention, and at the same time take some of the admin burden from the branches as members receive their renewal directly once the membership fee has been collected.” 

To find out more about how the Direct Debit option works, click here.

Say hello to our head of advocacy

Head of Advocacy Neil John Robinson is very proud of his record over the past 15 years at Legion Scotland. During that time, he’s helped veterans in Scotland obtain almost £14m owed to them in pensions and other benefits.

He and Deputy Pensions Appeals Officer James Johnston deal with enquiries relating to disablement pensions and the Armed Forces compensation scheme claims, from people looking to make a claim or to appeal a decision. They also handle queries relating to war widow and funeral expense claims. And they can attend court with claimants to help them present their appeal.

Pensions support has been a key function of the organisation since it was first established in 1921. Neil explains, “I believe that we have an important role within the community, and wherever possible we want to ensure that after serving their country, veterans should be recognised and allowed the freedom which they have fought for, and are supported in their integration back into society.”

If you would like any pension support, get in touch by calling 0131 550 1566

Say hello to our deputy pensions appeals officer!


Working alongside Neil John Robinson in the pensions and advocacy team is James Johnston, Legion Scotland’s deputy pensions appeals officer. 

James is responsible for most enquiries related to disabled pensions and armed forces compensation scheme claims. He will also support people who are looking to make appeals against decisions made in their claims.

 He says, “A lot of the time I get calls from people who feel like they have been fighting for their pensions for a long time and have very little fight left in them. Being able to put them at ease about the appeal and alleviate any concerns they have about the process can make a huge difference to someone who feels nobody has listened to what they have to say about their injuries and how they affect them.

 “Quite often, people are nervous when they first call but after chatting through things it puts them at ease and they feel more positive about going to appeal knowing we are there to help.” 

James adds, “The past couple of years have been tough for many people and has taken its toll particularly on those suffering with mental health conditions. I suspect we will see an increase in those types of cases in the coming year.”

Say hello to our Veterans Community Support Administrator!

Sally Orr Ewing is the Veterans Community Support Administrator at Legion Scotland, working alongside Tam Douglas. She helps ensure the successful delivery of support services, liaising with the coordinators who implement the programme. She also assists veterans and their families directly, and works across the Armed Forces community to improve outcomes for veterans and those serving in the military. 

Sally says: “I absolutely love my role, as no day is the same. I have seen great sadness and amazing achievements – the veterans we help never cease to amaze me with their attitude, and I feel very privileged to be able to help in some very small way. Our coordinators all go above and beyond to help the veterans.”

She adds, “The role has definitely changed since I started working for Legion Scotland three years ago, as the needs of the veterans have changed and become more complex especially while we have been dealing with the pandemic. 

“Headquarters may be small with only 11 people, but we are mighty! We will all help each other out when needed, especially when it comes to the events: it is all a team effort.”

Say hello to our veterans community support manager 

Tam Douglas works alongside Sally Orr Ewing in the Veterans Community Support Service (VCSS), supported by four regional volunteer coordinators. 

Tam says, “The VCSS has evolved from providing a befriending service for veterans living with isolation and loneliness, to providing a more direct link to other military charities for veterans with more complex issues. In some cases, this has included government bodies such as the Department for Work and Pensions, the NHS, the MOD, local government agencies and local council departments. It really is a mixed bag, which has provided the team with a broader range of knowledge and expertise than anyone could have foreseen at the beginning of the VCSS. 

“After many years working in the veterans’ community I assumed I had a good understanding of their needs. I was wrong! During the time I have worked for Legion Scotland, I have encountered some situations which I could never have dreamed about.” 

While tough, the job can also be very rewarding. 

“I get a great feeling of enjoyment, satisfaction and calmness when we manage to put things right,” Tam says. “I see what a difference we are making to those who need our help. A particular highlight was finding a veteran living in squalor, scraping his rent together for accommodation that was damp-ridden and rodent-infested. He had been off the radar for many years and didn’t know how to get out of the plight he was in. It took over a year, but he now has his own accommodation in sheltered housing and receives benefits for the first time since leaving the Army over twenty years ago. This has happened due to the determination and perseverance of one of our team, but they all have similar success stories to tell.”