Tom Foy is a Corporal in the RAF Regiment – and the Standard Bearer for his local branch, West Dereham in Norfolk.
He tells us how he got involved with the branch, and how proud he is to carry the standard for them.
Supporting a new Branch
As we were both serving when we moved to West Dereham, my wife and I felt it was important to get involved in the village community.
When we heard that Nick Cann was looking for members to form a new branch of RBL, we both thought it was a great idea and wanted to offer our support.
Becoming a Standard Bearer
In the lead-up to Remembrance Sunday a few years ago I was asked to second for Paula
Kellingray, who had been acting as our Standard Bearer.
I carried the standard for the service at our local church with little training or knowledge, but thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I offered to become Deputy Standard Bearer – but because Paula had other commitments, she asked me if I’d be willing to take on the Standard Bearer role.
My earliest memories of wearing a poppy are attending Remembrance services with family as a child.
My stepfather was in the Army both as a Para and in the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment, but had left Service before I met him. We also had a neighbour who used to tell me stories about his experiences of National Service and I always loved hearing them.
I joined in October 2003 as an RAF Regiment Gunner. During my time to date I’ve served a tour of duty in Basra with 34 Sqn; two tours in Kandahar, one with 34 Sqn and one with 15 Sqn; and two tours at Camp Bastion with 15 Sqn, including the handover of the site to the Afghan forces.
I have recently been asked to represent RBL at two local funerals. On both occasions, the families of the deceased have told me how much it has meant to them.
I think it helps to demonstrate that no matter how long someone served or how long ago they left Service, there is a support network there for them and their families. I believe this is a very important act of homage, whether you are the only person there or one of hundreds.
Our presence shows that The Royal British Legion stands together in honour and respect for all, whether fallen in battle or passing peacefully.
Attending the Festival of Remembrance
During one of our branch meetings, Nick mentioned to me that the opportunity was being offered for volunteer Standard Bearers to attend the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall.
I can honestly say that the whole experience was one of the proudest moments of my life. It showed me how much RBL is like a family and how we are all there to support each other.
The raw emotion in the Royal Albert Hall was clear to see on everybody’s faces, and I’m not afraid to admit that it brought a tear to my eye on more than one occasion over the two performances.