The Remembrance Torch of the Royal British Legion was taken to Ypres as part of their Grand Pilgrimage for 2018. It returned to Norfolk, where Royal British Legion members carried it across the county, uniting young and old in remembrance of those who gave their lives. One of these was 14-year-old Sam Carruthers from Norwich Ward, the youngest Standard Bearer in Norfolk.
“It’s good for people my age to get involved with the Legion,” said Sam, “and it’s an honour to carry the torch, which is symbolic. Passing it from the old to the young is one of the Legion’s messages.”
The torch relay started at Halsey House, the Legion’s care home and was passed to Sam by a resident and veteran. It went across Norfolk with the final leg finishing at 900-year-old Norwich Castle. Sam was present at the other relay points. He spoke with the press, senior Royal British Legion Officers, veterans, the Mayor of Norwich, and faith leaders. Filmed for the Royal British Legion while dressed in his Standard Bearer uniform, he reiterated the motto for this year’s Poppy Appeal, “Thank you to the World War 1 generation, who served, sacrificed and changed our world.”
With his family, Sam got involved with the Poppy Appeal in his village by selling poppies at a local supermarket with members of his ward. Sam was given a Somme Poppy pin by his Aunt. Handmade from a British shell fuse fired during the Battle of the Somme, it came with a certificate commemorating the life of an individual soldier who fell during the Battle. He and his Dad, Bishop of the Norwich Ward, took a trip to France and Belgium and found the grave of Private DJ Stewart, the soldier commemorated on the pin, at the Guards Cemetery. It was a moving experience.
In November 2017 Sam attended the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall with his Mum and Grandma. It was the start of a renewed commitment to the Royal British Legion. Sam is Deputy Head Boy at his high school and was given time off to take part in the Remembrance Torch Relay.
His Headteacher said, “We are very proud of Sam – what a great honour and achievement.”
Sam is meeting with the County Royal British Legion chairman and his school Principal about affiliating his school to the Legion and becoming the point of contact.
On Remembrance Sunday this year, Sam bore the Standard, leading the parade down to his village’s war memorial where over 200 people were gathered. It was poignant to see him slowly lower the Standard while the bugle played the Last Post. His trainer said that he was very proud of how Sam had performed his duties. Sam attends Standard Bearer training every month and enjoys chatting with the older members of the Legion. He takes his duties very seriously and conducts them with honour and respect, just as he does his Priesthood responsibilities