A NAVY veteran who transformed the fortunes of a Petersfield group has been given a heartfelt thanks for “making the difference” over two decades.

Clive Lewis may have stepped down as their chairman, but he will always be king of the Petersfield Royal British Legion.

Mr Lewis, who was a senior officer in the Royal Navy, stepped down in November after 16 years at the helm.

A legion of colleagues, friends and fans gathered in the town hall last Wednesday for a surprise ceremony.

Club president, David Lodrick, hailed Clive’s “outstanding leadership and commitment” before proclaiming that his legacy would never die.

He said: “His innovative management style, vision and leadership skills, often under difficult circumstances, have been key to the ongoing strength and success of the branch.

“He went over and above the call of duty, just like he did when he was a serving officer with the Royal Navy.

“Clive gave guidance, inspiration and support during his term of office. His legacy will never die. It will live on.”

Clive was presented with a decanter, certificates and a lanyard while his wife, Anna, was also given flowers.

He recalled how a meeting with a fellow veteran on a windswept Petersfield station platform led to his first RBL meeting. He name-checked colleagues past and present, saying he couldn’t have led without the fantastic people who have been with him along the way.

He added: “If we’re talking about achievements, then I think moving from one man, one dog and a band on Remembrance Sunday to the event we have now is probably the biggest.

“We may not be the biggest RBL club, but we’re the best.”

His replacement, Cllr Chris Paige, continued the praise, saying: “I’ve got huge shoes to fill.

“I’m never going to live up to what Clive has achieved but I hope to do you proud.”