BRITISH LEGION (LADIES SECTION) - Isa Keenan
I First joined the Ladies Section
of the British Legion in the winter of 1955. My neighbour. Mrs
Vincent and I though it would be a wee night out for us as the
premises were only a five minute walk from our homes. Rope Walk
was the location chosen for Prestonpans Legion. Our wee night
out turned into a ritual and every' Wednesday at 7 o'clock we
were ready to leave the children to the tender mercies of their
As the Ladies Section had only just begun the main topic at the
meeting was how to raise funds. We decided all members would pay
the sum of one shilling for tea and a scone. Also we had a raffle
for half a dozen fresh eggs and a game of bingo every meeting,
all profits going to the funds. I was roped in to help the Kitchen
Convener and as the only means of heating the hall was a big open
fire. we took it in turns to go early to get it started before
Our first stab at catering was a Bums night which proved a disaster
as some of the haggis burst and we had to strain it to make it
go round! However, the social side was a success and this encouraged
us to try more and we all developed excellent catering skills!
Slowly the funds grew and it was decided to buy a Standard as
all the other Ladies Sections had one. We also gave donations
to Linburn House. Queensberry House, Erskine Hospital and Edenhall.
Invitations were also given to the residents and their carers
for social evenings. The boys in the Royal Blue suits and red
ties from Edenhall appreciated the entertainment laid on for them!
When we changed premises across the road to the present British
Legion it was decided to start a canteen on Saturday nights to
increase our funds. We sold hamburgers, stovies, hot peas and
filled rolls, all profits again going to our Ladies Section which
enabled us to further our donations to worthy causes.
We then purchased our Standard. Having done so the next thing
was to choose a standard bearer and this honour fell to me, only
because I was the tallest lady in the section and perhaps would
look more imposing. I remember going for instructions on how to
carry it, dip it. and also the different ways of presenting it.
I travelled to a Crescent at Haymarket every Sunday for four weeks
to learn. The only lady in a class of men! When the standard was
dedicated at the Grange Church, I remember walking down the aisle
and hearing my son shout out "That's my Mummy!" At Armistice
you had to carry the flag down the passageways of the Usher Hall
when the name of your Legion was called out and make your way
up the stairs to sit for the finale of the Armistice Show. The
stairs were pretty steep and it was the dread of everyone carrying
a standard that they would trip. At one of the parades I had put
bIanco on my gauntlets to make them pure white but it rained "on
my parade" and I ended up with white streaks all over. Mrs
Franklin is now our present Standard Bearer.
Once a year we are invited to Whitefoord House for ex-servicemen
and given a meal and social evening in appreciation of the donations
received. Over the years a lot of effort has gone into maintaining
our Ladies Section as many have fallen by the wayside. At the
forefront, though, have been the Stewart sisters. Anne and Jean.
who keep us all on our toes. I hope the Ladies Section will go
on for many more years and continue to do the good work we all
set out to achieve all these years ago.