Royal British Legion industries welcomed Her Majesty The Queen to its village at Aylesford to mark the military charity’s 100th anniversary.
The Queen was introduced to representatives from Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company (BBMC), the charity’s on-site social enterprise, which employs 70 veterans and people with disability, produces road and rail signs, and wooden products. They were joined by colleagues from the Employment Solutions and LifeWorks teams.
Formed in 1919 to provide support to sick and wounded soldiers returning from the First World War, RBLI launched a campaign this year to build a new village to mark its centenary.
During the visit, The Queen toured the completed first phase of the Centenary Village, which includes 24 specially-adapted apartments for wounded former military personnel. She also officially opened Appleton Lodge, RBLI’s new luxury care facility for veterans and their families, which is also part of the proposed £22 million development.
Work will begin immediately on the second phase of the Centenary Village. When complete the latest development will add a further 22 apartments, each designed to be fully accessible and house single veterans in urgent need, plus 18 new family homes, and 24 assisted-living apartments. At the heart of the new development, which will sit alongside RBLI’s existing village, care homes and manufacturing facility in Kent, will be a state-of-the-art community centre with accessible gym.
Steve Sherry CMG OBE, Chief Executive of RBLI, said: “One hundred years ago, a group of philanthropists and forward thinkers came together to set up a community encompassing homes, welfare and employment to support vulnerable veterans. We are immensely proud to still be doing this today.
“This century of experience has culminated in our most ambitious project yet, the Centenary Village, which will place us at the very forefront of veteran support, ensuring RBLI is there for those who need us most in the future.
“Whilst we have moved closer towards our goal, we are still not there yet. We are delighted that Her Majesty’s attendance marked the beginning of the next stage of this exciting development.
“We still require the support necessary to complete this nationally significant project, to ensure veterans both young and old have a community to turn to for the next 100 years.”
RBLI has raised £16.5 million of the £22 million needed to complete the Centenary Village project. To learn more about the project, visit: www.rbli.co.uk/centenaryvillage