Former Suffolk Royal British Legion president from Bury dies

Neil Kirkham in the centre of the front row when he was shortlisted for Bury Town Council's Citizen of the Year in 2015

Neil Kirkham in the centre of the front row when he was shortlisted for Bury Town Council's Citizen of the Year in 2015

Former Suffolk County president of the Royal British Legion Neil Kirkham has died.

Mr Kirkham, 86, of Mayfield Road, Bury St Edmunds, became RBL county secretary in 1979 and then president in 2005, serving three years.

He met his third wife Ann after she saw him at the 1977 Remembrance Day parade in Bury and a friend took her to the Roundel Club afterwards.

Mr Kirkham, who was born in Wrexham and was a long term Liverpool FC fan, began National Service in the RAF in 1948 and rejoined 10 years later after serving with Cheshire Police. He moved to Bury with the Civil Service in 1966.

Mrs Kirkham said: “He did a lot with the Royal British Legion until he had to pack up a few years ago. I looked after him at home.

“We just got on ever so well with the work. I used to help him. We used to enjoy the work – we went to some lovely conferences.

“He took a coach load to America to meet legion members over there – they call the branches Posts there.”

That was in 1990 and 39 Suffolk RBL members stayed with American members, who were largely people who had emigrated after service in UK forces. The next year their American hosts stayed with their former guests in Suffolk.

Mr Kirkham was buried at Nowton Church following a funeral he organised himself, with Welsh and Liverpool flags on his coffin.

RBL county chairman Denis Bloomfield said: “He will always be remembered for the immense contribution he made to the work of the RBL in Suffolk over many years.”