Tom Swarbrick 10am - 1pm
Armed forces given Christmas puddings made by the Royal Family
22 December 2020, 06:16
Christmas puddings mixed by four generations of the royal family have been distributed to armed forces communities at home and abroad as part of a Royal British Legion project to bring festive cheer.
The Queen, Prince of Wales, Duke of Cambridge and Prince George each wielded a wooden spoon in aid of the RBL's Together At Christmas initiative a few days before December 25 last year.
Now the festive treats have been given to serving military, volunteers and people supported by the RBL who took part in virtual gatherings to bring people together at a time when issues like loneliness and money concerns come to the fore.
At Buckingham Palace last December, the royals stirred four large puddings bowls, which traditionally brings good luck, and added four commemorative sixpences to be found by lucky recipients.
RBL director-general Charles Byrne said: "Christmas can be a time when people's financial worries or feelings of loneliness, isolation or anxiety are heightened, this year more than ever as people continue to adapt to life during the Covid-19 pandemic.
"We want all those within our community who may be feeling the pressures of the season to know that there is extra support available and the Legion is here for them.
"Bringing people together, combating loneliness and helping individuals and families feel connected is an important part of our work all year round."
The Legion's first Together At Christmas events were due to be hosted at high street locations, care homes and Legion branches but the pandemic meant the gatherings had to be moved online.
The RBL has sent 99 puddings to families in the UK, others in Spain and Fiji, and to service personnel deployed in Bahrain this Christmas.
Veteran Poppy Appeal volunteer Vera Parnaby, 81, from Consett, County Durham, who has raised more than £1 million, received a special Christmas pudding.
Julian Groves, 59, who served with the Royal Army Medical Corps for 11 years, joined one of the get-togethers and discovered a sixpence in his pudding.
During the pandemic he has been receiving regular calls from the Legion's Telephone Buddy service to help with his social isolation.
He said: "It's incredibly special to be part of Together At Christmas and I was amazed to discover the sixpence.
"I've never done anything like this before but the sense of comradeship it created made it feel like being back in the forces.
"No matter how tough things are, the Legion always rallies round, making sure everyone is looked after."