The ‘Bridge Lookout’ has reported that the Festive Season is just over the horizon and a Captain’s Barge is insight, shortly to come alongside. As the end of the year approaches, we will sadly be saying farewell to Paul Quinn. Since taking up the post of the Association’s General Secretary at the National Conference held in Ouistreham, France in 2010, Paul has strived relentlessly to give the RNA a high profile not just throughout the naval service, but with the MOD, numerous charities and industry. His midas touch has resulted in the association gaining financial support from the Aged Veterans Fund, Greenwich Hospital Trust and RNRMC just to name a few. During his tenure, Paul has sought and gained over £1.5 million in grants to support the numerous projects he dreamed up and to pay the salaries of the 5 staff that run the projects. He has created an amazing network of contacts the RNA can call upon for advice and support. Paul has been the driving force behind both CONA and the IMC and is well respected by both. Despite working a very busy day, Paul has always found time to give advice when asked, and not just within office hours. In achieving so much for the association, Paul has been fortunate to have a dedicated team in Central Office to support him. On behalf of the Association I thank Paul for his loyalty, dedication, hard work and relentless pursuit in furthering the name of the RNA. As we say farewell to Paul we say a BIG hello to Bill Oliphant who has just retired from the Royal Navy after a 35 year career who we have been most fortunate to recruit as our new General Secretary. Bill’s last appointment was as Captain of HM Naval Base Portsmouth, a mammoth task with a mega amount of responsibility. Welcome Bill, the membership looks forward to meeting you in the coming year and I wish you every success in your new role. At the time of writing, Bill has been sitting in on committee meetings and getting out and about meeting members of those institutes who support the RNA with funding. Bill will assume his new job as the Association’s General Secretary after the 8th December National Council Meeting.
At the September National Council Meeting I was privileged to be re-elected your National Chairman and S/M Paul Stephenson was re-elected as your National Vice Chairman, both for a third-year term. At the same meeting we welcomed the newly elected National Council Members; S/M Stuart Maclean, (No 3 Area) and Arthur Gutteridge BEM (No 4 Area). Visits to meet Area Committees, Delegates & Shipmates around the Areas continue. I have found it interesting how the various Areas structure their meetings most of which involve a social aspect. My thanks to Shipmates of No 4 Area who made my wife and I welcome at Dorchester in September and I look forward to visiting No 9 Area on 1st December at Lincoln and No 12 Area in early January. How time has flown by since this time last year, where has the year gone? Reading through the Semaphore Circular each month gives a good indication that Branches have been having fun times, be it fund raising or living life to the full enjoying social events. Looking through the various Facebook sites it has been heartening to see so many Branches Flying the RNA Flag, having fun and enjoying themselves at so many events be them fund raising, but more recently, Trafalgar Night Celebrations. Keep it up. During the period of Remembrance, it was heartening to see the dedication and good work of Branches paying their respects at the numerous parades & services held throughout the country. On Remembrance Sunday I was most privileged to represent the Association at the Cenotaph in London where I laid a Wreath on behalf of all Naval Veterans.
As mentioned in Chairman’s Chats, the initiative by Paul Quinn and introduction of a Minor Grant Scheme funded from the Branch & Club Support Fund has proved a great success with the initial allocation of £7500 having been almost expended by the 2nd week of November. To ensure that no Branch misses out this year, Paul requested an increase to the allocated budget which the Finance Administration Committee approved with a further £2500 being allocated. Just to remind Branches, the General Secretary is authorised to make grants up to a maximum of £250 to assist with, but not restricted to; recruitment publicity, purchase of a Gazebo, entertaining veterans to a lunch or tea party etc. Applications & administration of the scheme have been kept to an absolute minimum. A simple email to Paul setting out the reason for the application is all that is required.
Of serious concern is it has come to my attention that there is a Branch which will not allow females to join the Association as Full Members, nor accept applications for Associate Membership, be the applicants, male or female. This practice is to STOP NOW. I strongly advise the Branch Committee concerned to read the RNA Royal Charter, Rules & Byelaws as a matter of urgency and to accept applications from those I have mentioned. Our newly appointed National Recruitment & Retention Officer, S/M Gareth Booth has been busy conducting a survey and communicating with NCMs and Branches following which Gareth has submitted a very interesting report to the Association’s Management Committee on his findings so far. I cannot stress the importance of giving Gareth your full cooperation when he seeks information. Gareth is no stranger or an outsider to the Association as he is the Chairman of Merthyr Tydfil Branch. Recruitment of new members must be a priority for all members, not just Branch Committees. As I have previously mentioned, if only 25% of the membership recruited just one new member each we would grow the membership by over 3000 in a year. There are 1000’s of potential recruits out there. Remember - always carry a membership form in your pocket (obtainable from your Branch Secretary or Branch Membership Secretary). The distribution of iPads under Project Semaphore continues with over 730 having now been issued. Sarah Clewes continues to be kept busy with the Project moving around the country setting up workshops for iPad users along with her colleagues Julie Royston and Alan McGrath up North. As a reminder when spreading the word about this great project, remember that Non-RNA members may also qualify for an iPad. Candidates simply need to be a naval veteran 65+ who does not have access to a computer and are digitally isolated. If in doubt about someone qualifying, please contact CO.
To our serving Shipmates in the Fleet, which includes the Royal Marines, all Shore Establishments and Naval Units, please let Andy Christie firstname.lastname@example.org at Central Office have any dits you have, or better still submit news from your Ship or Establishment for inclusion in the Association’s Semaphore Circular as we want to hear from you. To those on Deployment may you have safe passage and a safe return. In closing, my wife Maureen and I wish you all a Happy Festive Season and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year. I would like to ask you all to spare a thought over the festive season to remember all service personnel and support staff who will be on duty protecting our great nation, parted from their families and love ones.