Royal Naval Association (RNA)

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Shipmate Keith Ridley National Chairman 2020Shipmate Keith Ridley National Chairman 2020

Chairman's Chat


Dear Shipmates,

Shipmates, yet another edition of Semaphore Circular produced from S/M Andy Christie’s Man Cave who is not a bad lad having to work under extreme conditions. Just wish he would change from his slippers and bath robe into decent rig!

Since mid-March, our lives have been turned upside down by COVID-19. Sadly, we learn daily of Shipmates or their love ones who have slipped away as victims of this terrible virus. Our thoughts are with them and we must not forget them. Back in December who could have imagined we would find ourselves in this situation.

On the rare occasions that my wife and I have ventured out to collect and deliver medicines or provisions to housebound Shipmates, it is pleasing to see that the majority of the public are adhering to the Government’s advice to ‘Lockdown’ and the eeriness of the once bustling roads and local town. Click & Collect and home deliveries have now become the norm as opposed to the usual visit to town where in my case I would always bump into friends and a few Shipmates. Sadly, we see on the TV news or hear on the radio of those who choose to ignore the Government’s advice to stay at home simply because they cannot see this invisible enemy and that is what it is. Our admiration goes to all frontline staff, be they NHS, Carers, Shop workers, Bin men and all those involved in logistics behind the scenes or delivering vital supplies around the country.

On the brighter side of life, it is heartening to learn through Facebook the good work and deeds being carried out by you, the members. We have Wrexham Branch who have created the virtual TOT Night using an App called Zoom which having started with a handful of members taking part, and has now grown in numbers to an almost unruly bunch with S/M’s Kevin Hackett and Eric Holmwood exercising control. Well done lads in bonding together us future AA attendees. Interested? Checkout either S/M’s on Royal Naval Association Community Site. My thanks to S/M Karl Webb of RNA Huntingdon for his super IT skills in quickly capturing and posting on Facebook posters of the WANTED! who took part. These events are held each Wednesday & Saturday evening @ 1900 (that is 7.00pm to those Crabfat Members who are reading this).

Many Branches are embracing modern IT technology by holding virtual meetings and what a great way of maintaining contact within a Branch or with other Branches mostly with that added ingredient of banter. Well done all concerned. Just to share my own Branch’s initiative, we run a Buddy’s scheme whereby each committee member (Lead Buddy) makes frequent contact with several designated members to ensure they are well and enquire if they need any shopping etc. Each Lead Buddy then reports back on a Friday to the Branch Welfare Officer, reporting earlier if assistance is required. No doubt many Branches have developed their own support system.

Unfortunately, in readiness for the Uckers Championship members are losing ground being able to practise for the event. So, now is the time to pit your wits against your family members and show them how Jack/Jill occupied some of his/her time at Sea. However, I do not recommend playing Uckers with your wife/partner unless you want to cook your own meals.

The current situation has thrown up numerous issues for the Association which Bill Oliphant will no doubt have covered in his introduction. Behind the scenes we have had to address how to organise national committee and the national council meetings along with this year’s national conference. This will necessitate the national council to consider suspending various Bye-Laws for a limited period. Details will be promulgated to Branch Secretary’s shortly. As you will be aware all Association national events up to and including National Conference have had to be cancelled including the Standard Bearers Competition and the Welfare Seminar as well as several Open Days at Portsmouth Naval Base.

Returning to my earlier reference to Shipmates we have lost and may lose as a result of both the virus and natural causes. Following a suggestion from S/M Gordon Williams No 7 Area (South Wales & Glouc), Bill Oliphant has made an approach to the Chaplain of the Fleet, the Venerable Martyn Gough QHC with a view to holding a Service of Commemoration for all Shipmates we have lost. Consideration will be given as to the most appropriate venue and date.

My admiration goes to all serving and reserve members of the Navy who are supporting the frontline against the virus, and no doubt confined to Ship or Base. Our thoughts are with you and the fact that you are unable to be with your families. Please endeavour to spin your dits and experiences by continuing to send them to Andy Christie at
To all Shipmates and your families here in the UK and throughout the world, keep safe and adhere to all the advice being given to you. Remember, let us all set our sights on coming out of this crisis together. Stay Safe.

Yours aye,   
Keith Ridley