Royal Naval Association (RNA)

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Chairman Keith Ridley 2018Chairman Keith Ridley 2018
Chaimans Chat August 2019Chaimans Chat August 2019

Chairman's Chat


Dear Shipmates,

It is with sadness that I report the untimely passing of S/M Alan McGrath on 28th June. The Funeral took place on 16th July at a packed and overflowing Accrington Crematorium. The Association was represented at the funeral by our National President, myself, Andy Christie, numerous Shipmates and many former Stores Accountants who served with Alan throughout his long association with the Royal Navy. The National Standard was Paraded by S/M Bob Coburn.
Some years back Alan volunteered to be a Branch Support Officer giving assistance to Branches as and when requested. He later volunteered to assist in the delivery of Project Semaphore whilst at the same time volunteering not only to be the Northern Libor Minibus Coordinator, but on many occasions being the driver transporting Shipmates here, there and everywhere. Alan represented the best the RNA has to offer. Watch Over, Stand down Shipmate, your Duty is done. Our thoughts are with S/M’s Alan’s family and his wife Nicki.
My apologies S/Ms for my absence since the March Circular after which on 10 April I became a Sick Bay Ranger following a Hip Replacement under the Veterans Medical Service. Trying to sit at my wife’s PC was unbearable and none too good for my recovery. With that and a busy time nationally, as a member of the 2019 National Conference Working Group and Chairman of my Town’s Armed Forces Day Committee a 25 hour day has been the norm.
My thanks go to Lt. Col Carl Meyer, his team and the wonderful staff of the Robert Jones & Angus Hunt NHS Orthopedic Hospital Oswestry and my wife, Maureen who was a superb nurse in my time of need and support. Humorous Military banter before, during and after the operation in a relaxed hospital atmosphere was a super tonic. Referral by my GP to undergoing the knife was just 14 weeks. Due to previous medical problems I was given an epidural so was able to view broadside on through a reflecting glass this interesting 75-minute operation. Lt.Col Meyer who specializes in Hips & Knees welcomes referrals via your GP from the Veterans Community. He is a great surgeon with a great personality. Interested? For details please get in touch with me at

It was pleasing to see so many Branch Delegates at this year’s National Conference hosted by No 6 Area in my home Town of St. Neots. The Project was Managed and delivered by S/M Geoff Apperley of Royston & District Branch. Geoff has had a tough year having experienced a serious medical set back 12 months ago but has made a remarkable recovery. For his outstanding dedication to his own Branch, the Area over many years and Project Managing Conference, he was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation which was presented by the National President at the Gala Dinner. Congratulations and well done Geoff.
Browsing through Facebook and with summer upon us I congratulate the many Branches who are out and about promoting the Association at numerous public events in towns and villages. Most notable have been No 10 Area, Pendleton, Wrexham, Shrewsbury & Oswestry Branches to name just a few. Well done those Branches. We must not forget that whilst Central Office is the
main administration base of our Association, it is we the members who are the sales team responsible for recruiting new members. Online applications along with those from the Shipmates & Oppos Programme continue to arrive at CO. Please try and remember to carry an application form in your pocket ready to gain a new member.
Project Semaphore under the leadership of Sarah Clewes assisted by Julie Royston and the late Alan McGrath continues to be busy with the distribution of the iPads. Applications from digitally isolated naval veterans are still invited. So if you know of any likely candidates please let Sarah know at Central Office. Sarah Clewes & Julie Royston have been organising Group Training Sessions. My thanks go to all volunteer trainers who give their time to support the project by the ongoing training of iPad recipients.

I thank the Lincoln Branch for inviting me on 30 May to unveil the restored Ensign of the Destroyer HMS MAENAD which took part in the Battle of Jutland and survived. Two days later I attended and enjoyed a well packed HMS COLLINGWOOD Families & Field Gun Run Day. The RNA /PUSSER’S Rum Gazebo attracted great interest from the Part 2 Trainees and Old Hands alike. By invitation of the TRBL (Republic of Ireland) on Saturday 13 July I attended a very moving Annual Ceremony of Remembrance at the Irish National War Memorial Gardens, Islandbridge, Dublin where I laid a Wreath on behalf of the RNA. On Parade were the Standards of No12 Area, Dublin, Limavady & Londonderry Branches and how smart they looked. Well done S/Ms. The following day by invitation of the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) I attended the Irish National Day of Commemoration Ceremony at which I was introduced to the Irish President Michael D Higgins. Both ceremonies commemorated the 60,000 Irish Servicemen both North & South who lost their lives during WW1 & WW2. My thanks go to our National Vice Chairman & NCM of No 12 Area (Ireland) S/M Paul Stephenson for organising matters on behalf of the Association and to both him and his wife Mary for hosting me over the weekend.
On Sunday 8th September the Association will hold its Biennial Parade & Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph. Details of this were circulated in the July Circular and elsewhere in this edition. I urge Branches to do their utmost to support this important event and I look forward to meeting as many of you as I can.
To our serving Shipmates in the Fleet, which includes the Royal Marines, all Shore Establishments and Naval Units, please let Andy Christie 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.

Yours aye,   
Keith Ridley