Royal Naval Association (RNA)

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General Secretary's Message

Dear Shipmates

I regret I have to start this month’s editorial with some desperately sad news. We lost Shipmate Alan Magrath who crossed the bar suddenly with a heart attack in late June. At the tender age of 69, Alan was very much a member of what Andy Christie describes as the “Youth Wing” of the Association. He was known to us in Central Office for the role he played in Project Semaphore where he covered the north of England, Scotland and Ireland connecting the older generation to the wonders of the Internet through the iPad initiative. He was also the co-ordinator for the northern minibus. Entirely selfless and always willing and able to assist, the rest of us will need to pull up our socks if we are to continue to be able to claim our 1000 good deeds a day across the RNA as I know that Alan contributed to that total daily. Our thoughts are very much with you Nicki; we feel your loss. Clearly, one of our tasks will be to renew our staff photograph next month but I thought we would use the version with Alan in remembrance. I’m dedicating my charity cycle ride in September from London to Paris to Alan – more of this later.
On a much happier note the AFPRB recommendation of a 2.9% pay rise has been approved across the board apart from those most junior of personnel who, on completion of training, will earn £20k pa which equates to a 6% rise. Back dated to April too – I wonder if they’ll do the same with the pension? I think I’ll have to join up again….I hear they’re looking for Chefs and I can turn out a mean cheesy, hammy, eggy!
Stand by for a galley dit. I recall an amusing episode in HMS EDINBURGH in 1988 when I was a young Midshipman doing my Task Book. Prince Andrew was in the Ship then and his then wife, Sarah Ferguson, was visiting when we were alongside in Rosyth. It was my week with the S&S and I was in the Ship’s Galley that day. Having met HRH during standeasy coffee in the Wardroom, I was back in my chefs’ whites in the galley a little later when she dropped in on a ship tour. “Haven’t we met somewhere before?” she asked. “Yes Ma’am. About an hour ago in the Wardroom.” To wit, she replied, “Ah, I didn’t recognise you with your clothes on!”
Interesting times in the Straits of Hormuz too which will no doubt be familiar to many of us. I wonder if our new PM, Boris Johnson, will have an ear to the calls from politicians as well as academics and military chiefs, that the Royal Navy is currently too small for the tasks it is being asked to do? Indeed, our President, VAdm John McAnally, had a letter published in the Times recently adding his weight to the argument. Meanwhile, HMS DUNCAN has been despatched early East of Suez to support MONTROSE with KENT to follow later this year. As reported on BBC2 last night (no OPSEC breach!), they join an LSDA and 4 x MCMVs which are already deployed to the Gulf Region. We’ve received the Galaxy notice (some would remember it as a Fleet Temporary Memorandum) regarding the new First Sea Lord’s supersession and his vision for the Naval Service. It’s published in full after this note so you can see his ambition for the RN.

In other naval news, the reports of the flood in QUEEN ELIZABETH seem to have been blown out of all proportion on a quiet news day. She’s currently sitting alongside at Pompey in the more unusual bows south position in order to do some
outboard maintenance. She normally rests stbd side too as all the logistics are normally conducted through the aircraft lifts which are both on the stbd side. I must say she looks good facing south as her great bulbous ski jump is all you can see as you drive along the main drag into the Base.

More good news. Greenwich Hospital have very kindly agreed to fund Sarah Clewes for an additional couple of days a week to bring her up to full time in Central Office so that she can support our National Welfare Advisor Rita Lock in the co-ordination of Welfare Support. If the database in Central Office was sufficiently switched on (which it’s not!) I’d be interested to ask it the average age of our membership. My gut feeling is that this figure sits around the 75-80 age
group and is only increasing. The natural corollary of this assumption is that, as our membership ages, we are in greater need of support and although the RNA is not established for benevolence, there are plenty of charities out there who are and we are seeking to provide a better understanding of this complex web of charities so that Central Office can assist members requiring support to find the right assistance for their particular need. Sarah is the obvious person
to take this on as she has already seen some of the travails our members are stoically enduring whilst out doing her Project Semaphore piece.

I know I’ve mentioned this before but it’s important so I’ll say it again; our part (your part!) in the web of charities is to act as Naval Intelligence and look out for shipmates who might not be as blessed as ourselves physically and of course it’s often a sensitive issue especially for our typical member who has spent all his or her life at the service of others and is often reluctant to accept that they might now be in need of a bit of assistance themselves. And also, don’t forget that Naval Benevolence is available to widows/widowers of those who served.

Meanwhile, on a personal basis, training for the Heroes Cycle Challenge is well underway. The “heroes” of course being the brave souls who fought in Normandy and north France 75 years ago rather than the sorry lot who are dragging themselves round on bikes from London to Paris to raise money for the RNRMC. I’ve bought a new bike as I everyone was telling me that the bike I
delivered my newspapers on when I was 15 probably wouldn’t do. Anyway, the new bike is amazing and I’m now a regular weekend visitor to the top of Portsdown Hill; a feat which would only have occurred with my old bike had I had it strapped to a bike rack on the car!! I’ve just started a just giving page so if anyone cares to donate to RNRMC the link is below – many thanks.

Great to see so much going on around the Branches. Congrats to Christchurch on the blessing of their new standard and well done to S/M David Griggs MBE, No7 Area President, who has been awarded the Bronze Award as Volunteer of
the Year at the recent Veterans Awards in S Wales and S/M George Hockney BEM, of Peterborough Branch who was presented a Norwegian Commemorative Medal for the role he played in the Norwegian Campaign by Norwegian Defence Attaché Colonel John Andreas Olsen on the occasion of his 100th birthday. Heartiest congrats to you Sir! And finally, congrats to S/Ms Chris & Liz Lewarne from Spennymoor for their award from the Town Mayor for their services to the community. 

Parish Notices

Black Tot. For those attending the Black Tot commemoration in HMS BELFAST on Tuesday 30 July, Rig is RNA Rig (medals optional) although we may opt to relax jackets should it be as hot next week as it is now. Dining Room opens at 1200.
Biennial Parade. The new First Sea Lord, Admiral Tony Radakin, will take the Review at the Cenotaph. The Parade this year is on Sunday, 08 September and don’t forget it is open to all as it is the Parade of Naval Associations so if you are a member of the HMS FIFE, 3rd Commission, what a run ashore in Kirkcaldy Association, then you will be equally welcome. Muster point this year is the same as 2017 in King Charles Street, and Andy tells me we’ve to be “fell in” by 0930 with medals polished.
CONA Conference. The Conference of Naval Associations (CONA) is meeting this year in the Royal Maritime Club in Portsmouth on 20 September. Sarah is leading on this and it will be themed more towards the requirements of our respective memberships. She already has Rob Bosshardt from the RNBT signed up to present and also Prostate Cancer UK.
D-Day 75 Booklet. As well as a fully stocked slops cupboard, Nigel also has several copies of the excellent commemorative D-Day 75 booklet which we are able to offer at £5 which is half price on the cover price.
Open days. These have proven very popular this year with another full group of 40 due on Friday 26 July. October is already full but there are still spaces available on Fri 30 August if you want to come down. Please call Andy or Nigel on 02392 723747 to reserve spaces.
Semaphore Circular. Just a reminder that there is no Semaphore Circular next month as the office is at minimal manning for the summer break.
Central Office. In the office, we’ve had a review of tasks and responsibilities which has included a review of staff titles. We now look like the staff structure image on the left.

Best wishes from the Central Office Team