Royal British Legion Industries has appointed Lisa Farmer as Chief Executive with CEO Steve Sherry CMG OBE retiring after 12 years leading the military charity.
RBLI provides employment, welfare, health care and accommodation support to the country’s most disadvantaged military veterans and people with disabilities. The charity operates its village in Aylesford, Kent, which provides a home to more than 300 veterans and their families through emergency accommodation for those who are homeless, as well as care homes for elderly ex-servicemen and women.
The same village is home to Britain’s Bravest Manufacturing Company, which provides direct employment to more than 100 people – more than 70% of whom are veterans or have a disability. It is here that the now nationally-iconic WW1 ‘Tommy’ soldier figure was created by the factory’s team of veterans. The charity also operates a second, Glasgow-based social enterprise, Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company, which provides flexible employment opportunities in manufacturing for disadvantaged military veterans in Scotland.
Lisa first joined RBLI six years ago since when she held positions as Director of Strategic Development and latterly Deputy Chief Executive. During her tenure at RBLI, Lisa has been instrumental in broadening the charity’s beneficiary reach which now numbers more than 10,000 every year, and has secured more than £34 million in funding to dramatically expand the charity’s care provisions for military veterans and national employment support services.
Lisa has also led the charity’s most ambitious project in its more than 100-year history, the Centenary Village – a £22m development which when complete will see RBLI provide a home to hundreds more veterans every year for the next 100 years. The development will include 22 apartments, each designed to be fully accessible and house single veterans in urgent need, 16 new family homes, and a further 24 assisted-living apartments. At the heart of the new development, which will sit alongside RBLI’s existing village, care homes and manufacturing facility in Kent, will be a state-of-the-art community centre with accessible gym. The second phase of the project, which was officially launched by Her Majesty the Queen during a royal visit in 2019, is due for completion later this year.
Under Lisa’s guidance, RBLI’s Centenary Village, holistic welfare support model STEP-IN, nationally-delivered employment programme LifeWorks and the charity’s practices in disability employment have become leading national exemplars not just in veteran care but also in wider communities.
Lisa Farmer said:
“As RBLI embarks on another incredible period of growth, I am thrilled to begin my new role as chief executive and lead the charity to further success. There are a number of fantastic campaigns already underway to support the veteran community, their families and other individuals, as well as new opportunities to enhance our vision to help so many others who can benefit from our support.
“I would like to express a huge thank you to Steve Sherry CMG OBE. Without his commitment and dedication as chief executive, RBLI simply would not have experienced the historic level of success it has over the past 12 years. I am honoured that Steve and the board have entrusted me to lead the charity forward as we enter into this exciting time ahead and I can’t wait to get started.”
Lisa takes the reigns from Steve Sherry CMG OBE who joined RBLI in 2010. As is the charity’s tradition, on his final day, Steve was paraded through the charity’s Kent village. Veterans, residents and charity staff alike took to the streets of the village to wave off the former Brigadier as he rode aback Will MB US Army Jeep which was used by British airborne forces during the Second World War. Steve’s journey through the 75-acre site ended with him literally passing the baton to incoming chief executive Lisa at RBLI’s Centenary Village site.
Steve Sherry CMG OBE said:
“I am immensely proud of all that RBLI has been able to achieve over my 12 years here. We have supported tens of thousands of disadvantaged military veterans and people with disabilities across the UK.
“Our growth and our successes are not down to me, but down to the unwavering dedication of the whole RBLI team, as well as the phenomenal support we have received from our customers, donors, corporate partners, charity partners, local authorities and individual supporters.”
“I leave RBLI at this exciting time in the extremely capable hands of Lisa Farmer. Her background in care, disability education and business development is exactly the right mix for RBLI’s services and ambitions.
“I know Lisa will serve the charity and its supporters with determination passion and will take RBLI’s successes to even greater heights.”