December 8 2013 Latest news:
BY DAVID BALE
Monday, August 6, 2012
A second world war veteran who will be 96 next month has been honoured with one of the Royal British Legion’s most prestigious awards.
Sidney Blanch, from Hellesdon, near Norwich, was presented with a National Life Membership Award by the national vice-chairman of the Royal British Legion, John Crisford, together with Stewart Blackburn, the vice-chairman of the Norfolk RBL, at Hellesdon community centre.
Mr Blanch gave 36 years’ continuous service as Hellesdon branch secretary and only left last year, at the age of 94.
During his long tenure, he also supported the Poppy Appeal, spending long hours collecting door to door and raising considerable sums over the years. He organised many functions for the branch, including the annual dinner, where he often doubled as the cabaret act, the Punch and Judy Show.
Meanwhile, he single-handedly organised the day to day running of the branch, and organised the annual remembrance parade and the service co-ordinating arrangements.
Mr Crisford told him: “The branch owed much of its existence to you.
“You supported and worked tirelessly for the legion above and beyond that normally expected of an individual and you were recommended most strongly for the award of a Gold Badge.
“But when the national chairman reviewed the citation submitted, he decided the service should be recognised by the award above that of Gold Badge and decided to award the National Life Membership.”
Mr Blackburn added that very few life membership awards were given out and added that there was only one award higher - the National Certificate of Appreciation.
Mr Blanch said it was “wonderful” to get the award, and added: “I’ve enjoyed what I’ve done. Being secretary helped me to write letters and pushed me forward. It also meant that I got to boss a lot of people around.”
He served in the Royal Air Force in the second world war and spent the last two years in the Azores. “I had a good war,” he added.
After his stint in the war, he worked for the National Health Service at Hellesdon Hospital.
He never really knew his father who was killed in the first world war.
Being awarded a National Life Membership award, the recipient retains his full rights without payment of subscriptions for the rest of his life.
As part of the award, Mr Blanch was presented with a framed certificate, together with a national life membership card and badge.
Mr Blanch has one daughter, who lives near Bungay, four grandchildren and he has twice visited his 10 great-grandchildren in Australia.