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RBL announces new national president and elects first female national chairman

RBL announces new national president and elects first female national chairman


31 Aug, 2019

Lieutenant General James Bashall CB CBE has been appointed new Royal British Legion National President following a distinguished Army career, plus milestone moment as RBL membership elects the charity’s first female national chairman in 98 years, Una Cleminson BEM TD

The Royal British Legion (RBL) has announced the appointment of its new national president, Lieutenant General James Bashall CB CBE, and the election of the charity’s first female national chairman, Una Cleminson BEM TD. Both new National Officers took up their roles at the end of RBL’s annual conference in Bournemouth.

The figurehead role of the Legion’s national president is the most senior representative of the charity and is normally held by a senior retired officer. It rotates every three years between the military services. Lt Gen James Bashall took over the role in mid-May and immediately assumed duties for the commemorations of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings.

Following 34 years’ service, Lt Gen James Bashall retired from the Regular Army in October 2018. As a young officer he commissioned into the Parachute Regiment and served with the its 2nd and 3rd battalions. During his career Lt Gen Bashall commanded the 2nd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment, the 1st Mechanised Brigade and the 1st (UK) Armoured Division, deploying to Germany, Afghanistan, South Armagh, Iraq and Libya, to name a few. He later held positions as Chief of Staff at Permanent Joint Headquarters, and Director Personnel at Army Headquarters. His final post was Commander Home Command, overseeing the Army’s main support elements from training and recruitment to soldier welfare.

He says, ‘It is an honour to be appointed as the national president of The Royal British Legion, a charity with an esteemed history, and one that plays a vital role in today’s Armed Forces community. Throughout my military service the Legion has been a constant, championing the unique contribution of the Armed Forces community, providing life-changing support, and ensuring the sacrifice and service of those who have gone before is honoured and remembered. I  am very much committed to and enthused by what the next three years in my position have to hold, including serving the charity during its centenary and supporting its staff while we look ahead to the next 100 years.’

The role of national chairman of The Royal British Legion is elected by its membership once every three years. It is an active position, leading the Board of Trustees and representing the Legion’s interests both internationally and across the UK. Having served for three years as the Legion’s national vice-chairman, Una Cleminson started her duties as chairman at the close of the organisation’s annual conference this year.

Una has a long and rich history with Legion, starting her involvement by collecting for the Poppy Appeal at the age of 16. She was aware of the Legion’s welfare work, especially at that time with First World War veterans, and subsequently joined the organisation’s membership in the 1970s. During her military career Una was a Major in the Territorial Army’s unit field hospital and worked for 18 years as a sister at the Hospice of St Francis in Berkhamsted. 

She says, ‘I am immensely proud to be the first female national chairman of The Royal British Legion. The Legion is a hugely progressive organisation, with women holding roles of influence and responsibility on our Board of Trustees and Executive Board for decades, and I am pleased we can continue to demonstrate equality in our most senior roles with my election to this role.

‘I look forward to the challenges involved, including building our connections and working collaboratively with other military charities, growing and developing our membership – and, importantly, ensuring that current serving members of the Armed Forces community feel that our membership offering is right for them. I feel a special connection with the Legion’s work in the field of mental health and well-being, and I am particularly keen to ensure we continue to break down stigmas and reach out to those most in need of our support.’

The newly appointed National president and elected national chairman will serve in their roles until May 2022, and throughout the Legion’s centenary in 2021.

To find out more about the work of The Royal British Legion, visit

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