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Remembrance Day adjusts for COVID-19

President Nelson Lillington (left) and Secretary Classie Marshall (right) of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 11 in Port aux Basques join Mayor John Spencer (centre) to raise the flag of Remembrance. – submitted

PORT AUX BASQUES – Count the Royal Canadian Legion as being among the volunteer organisations impacted by COVID-19. Nelson Lillington, who has been serving as President of Branch 11 for about a year and a half, says that Remembrance Day will look a little different this year.

“There will not be a formal ceremony due to the restrictions placed on gatherings. Wreaths will still be laid at the Cenotaph,” shared Lillington via e-mail.

He and other volunteers with Royal Canadian Legion will be on hand between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. to assist those who wish to lay a wreath, or lay the wreath on behalf of those unable to attend.

“Everyone understands the changes the fact that health and safety of people is the priority. We feel the way that we have organised the event factors this in while still allowing the Remembrance of family and loved ones,” wrote Lillington.

The annual poppy campaign has also been adjusted to deal with the new reality of living in a global pandemic. Participating businesses will allow patrons to buy a poppy to wear and there will still be a table at the Grand Bay Mall to purchase a poppy, but there will be no door to door canvassing for donations.

“While these changes will have an impact on fundraising for the Poppy Fund, we still expect to have a successful campaign,” stated Lillington.

The annual Legion Poppy Fund offers financial assistance and support to Veterans and their families who are in need. The funds can help with everything from food and utilities to clothing, medical and emergency shelter and much more.

“There are also other ways that anyone who wishes to (can) make a donation,” advises Lillington.

Donations can also be sent to Branch 11 directly, and by cheque or online to the National Poppy Trust Fund.

The Legion President served for 25 years in the Royal Canadian Navy as a Naval Communicator, 16 of which were spent on various ships.

“During my time in the Navy I learnt the value and importance of teamwork and leadership. Those lessons I use every day in my personal life as well as the President of Branch 11,” shared Lillington.

One of the biggest challenges he is facing is simply maintaining the Branch 11 building. The roof is in urgent need of replacement, and with a four-month closure due to the pandemic the Branch has not been able to raise the necessary funds. Lillington hopes to raise money this winter so that the roof can be replaced early next Spring. His goal is to make the facility a more comfortable and welcoming place for local Veterans.

“Hopefully, over the next few years the Branch is able to raise the funds required to make the building more appealing to veterans and to the general public to visit, enjoy some entertainment and tell a few stories.”

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