Bill Oliphant Resized2Bill Oliphant Resized2

General Secretary's Message

Dear Shipmates

Welcome to another edition of the Semaphore Circular. I’ve lots of news today but firstly, I’d like to add my heartiest congrats to that of the National Chairman’s who obviously wrote his piece last month after me – BZ Shipmate Geoff Apperley, with your well-deserved, BEM.

Well, it’s not turning out to be the best of summers but nevertheless the prospect of being able to meet up again in Branches is tantalisingly close with Boris due to make some announcement this week – fingers firmly crossed. I realise that Branches will take things at their own pace but please remember we have the Branch and Club Support Fund which I am permitted to make grants of up to £250, so please use it to put an event together to get your Branch back up and running. Don’t forget there is also the 1000 Good Deeds Fund which you can draw on, for example, to take an elderly shipmate out for the day or buy him or her a birthday present.

I meant to say a huge thank you to all those who contributed to the St Vincent appeal earlier in the year. As you can imagine our collective efforts were very well received not only by the direct recipients of our benevolence but also our serving shipmates from St Vincent who, having recognised the significance of our Association, are now in the process of setting up their own Branch here in the UK.

Thank you too for all the donations which have been received in lieu of subs, some of which have been extremely generous. The policy of switching to a donation- based income model seems to be working and Central Office have processed over 1600 new memberships since the turn of the year. Considering weekends and public holidays, that works out at an average of 12.9 new applications a day. Some of which included the next generation of Commanding Officers and XOs who I briefed at COLLINGWOOD recently.

There are lots of things going on this summer/autumn. Please see the articles about each later in this edition and please get involved:
    • 30 July – Central Office Open Day, HMNB Portsmouth
    • 3-5 Sep – Annual Conference, Nottingham
    • 12 Sep – Naval Associations Parade, Cenotaph, Whitehall
    • 23 Oct – World Uckers Championships Finals, HMNB Portsmouth

In addition, plans for next year’s AGM/Conference in Portsmouth are coming along. These coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Falklands Conflict where Portsmouth City Council intend to afford the Association the Freedom of the City. Along with the projects to reach more of our elderly shipmates (Projects Semaphore and Sparko) and the revitalisation of the Shipmates and Oppos programme which we are developing in partnership with the RN to establish a mentoring scheme for those leaving and looking for employment in the big bad world, it makes for a busy Central Office.

We’ve also had talks with the Naval Families Federation recently as we believe that there are touch points where we can work together better for our people. We are all part of the wider Naval Family.

Now, a request for a volunteer, or a group of volunteers, to accept the challenge thrown down by Stuart Barnes who wants to drive a 1904 Oldsmobile from John O’Groats to Land’s End next year in support of Service Charities. Please see the article in this edition. Have we got a couple of enterprising shipmates in a Branch who could take this on? I would be very happy to lend an RNA minibus or two as support vehicle(s).

Please note the offers on Forces Cars Direct, Pussers Rum and for those who don’t do rum, Sea Urchins Gin. All of whom also support your Association in some shape or form. Finally, thank you also to AW Shipping Management who have kindly sponsored our lunch at Conference this year – much appreciated.

As ever,
Bill Oliphant