PEOPLE in the Amman Valley have been supporting the armed forces community for a century and this support will be marked with a number of events.

The Garnant Branch of the Royal British Legion is holding its centenary year in 2024, marking 100 years since it began to raise funds for and support members of the Army, Navy and Royal Air Force in 1924. Following the First World War, communities wanted to pay their respects to and remember those who served.

In 1918, a letter was published in the Amman Valley Chronicle suggesting that a memorial hall should be built and have a swimming pool on the ground floor because local children were swimming in the polluted River Amman.

On December 31, 1923, a new picture house and dance hall called The Palais de Danse was opened with a well-attended ball. The aim of the building was to hold dances once a week and used as a cinema for five nights a week.

Less than a year later, the building became the New British Legion Hall and the opening was attended by Will Hanson, the Amman Valley’s most decorated serviceman at the time. It later became known as the Haig Memorial Hall after Field Marshall Douglas Haig, commander of the British Expeditionary Force from 1915 to 1918 and who was one of the founders and president of the Royal British Legion until his 1928 death.

South Wales Guardian: Ysgol y Bedol has a war memorial which was funded by the Royal British Legion's Garnant branchYsgol y Bedol has a war memorial which was funded by the Royal British Legion's Garnant branch (Image: Kevin Madge)

The Garnant branch was established in 1924 and has raised funds for a range of memorials as well as compiling a list of the men and women from the Garnant and Glanaman areas who lost their lives fighting for their country.

A total of 45 men and women from the area were killed during the First World War in military action, with 19 killed during the Second World War and one who was shot by accident in 1955 when retiring from patrol in Malaya. Two of these were posthumously given the Military Medal. The details of all of these were compiled in 1994 through 20 years of research by former Royal Welch Fusilier and Garnant branch president Nevin Anthony.

In 1995, the branch – alongside Cwmaman Town Council and Dinefwr Borough Council – installed a memorial stone at Parc Golwg yr Aman.

Between 2008 and 2010, the branch fundraised for a new memorial at Ysgol y Bedol, which was unveiled on April 24, 2010. It displays the names of all who died in action from the Cwmaman area.

Branch chairman Cllr Kevin Madge said: “I would like to thank my secretary Cllr Pauline Barker, vice chairman Dewi Branch, president Nevin Anthony, and all branch members for their hard work for the legion. Also a special thanks to Gethin Richards, head of Ysgol y Bedol and staff and Garnant Club for their support over many years.

“In addition, the branch would like to thank all of our friends and supporters and local businesses in the community for the support that you have given to the branch and the poppy appeal over the last 100 years in Garnant and Glanaman. We are very grateful for your support.”

As part of the centenary celebrations, there will be a centenary buffet dance at Garnant Golf Club on February 24 at 7pm. Entertainment will be provided by Fracture and the buffet is provided by the golf club. Tickets cost £12 and are available at Ysgol y Bedol, Cwmaman Community Centre or by calling Cllr Kevin Madge on 01269 825438 or Cllr Pauline Barker on 01269 84259.

There will also be a concert in November at Ysgol y Bedol, with more details to be announced.