Bill Oliphant Resized2Bill Oliphant Resized2

General Secretary's Message

Dear Shipmates

Well, what a fabulous AGM and Conference weekend that turned out to be! This edition comes to you slightly adrift, for which I apologise, but, I confess, there was an element of recovery post Conference. I was a tad worried that it might be a little difficult this year to encourage shipmates to crawl out from under their Covid shelters and come along to Conference but, I am delighted to say that my fears were unfounded. Of course, and rightly, I respect those amongst us who are taking more care as the Covid battle is still on and it’s still taking casualties but those who joined us in Nottingham this weekend thank you all for coming and making it such a great weekend. Good to see elements of the Riders Branch roll into town on their machines along with Mike Burnham on his 4 wheeled mean machine!

The opportunity to meet again and see some old friends was a real tonic after the long winter of Covid hibernation. I think we all needed it!!

It was the occasion to bid farewell to our revered National President of over 20 years, Admiral John McAnally who still amuses us with both his light hearted conduct of business throughout the AGM but also his after dinner tales as he wanders around the tables. And, with Admiral Duncan Potts now at the helm, it would appear that the tradition of style, panache and good humour with our National President is set to continue. There’s more about Conference later in this edition and some excellent photos too.

This brings me neatly onto Nigel Huxtable, who, as well as being an absolute rock as our Membership Secretary for over 13 years, also acts as our staff photographer often getting himself into strange nooks and crannies to find a good angle on something.
It’s almost impossible to replace someone like Nigel as his depth of knowledge on veterans’ affairs is truly encyclopaedic but, also, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone quite as selfless as Nigel and I constantly need to check myself that I am not taking advantage of his good nature. Nigel, we will miss you in the office but I hope you will come back and take some more excellent photos for us please.

Please can I take this opportunity to thank shipmates for your extremely generous contributions to both John and Nigel’s leaving gift; both were overwhelmed when they received an envelope with a donation as a token of Shipmates appreciation from ‘Project Ultra’. We are pleased to report that OP ULTRA was good with both recipients remaining completely in the dark until it was presented. I know that both John and Nigel were thrilled to receive the gift and want to say how grateful they are.

(From Andy - Very many thanks to Branches and individual Shipmates for donating to ‘Op Ultra.’ You’ll be pleased to know that my Postman calls me Shipmate now!)

One dampener on an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable weekend was the news which reached us on Sunday afternoon of the passing of S/m Jim Hammond, NCM No 5 Area and long-time servant of the RNA, who crossed the bar on Saturday after a brief illness. Jim was an absolute gentleman and worked hard in Counsel to improve the management and governance of the Association. RIP Jim.

Looking ahead to the forthcoming weekend, the Naval Associations Parade on Sunday at the Cenotaph will rightly by supported by the HMS COLLINGWOOD Band of the Royal Marines and we are honoured to host the Naval Secretary and Director People and Training, Rear Admiral Phil Hally, who will take the salute. We will also take the opportunity to remember our shipmates like Jim who didn’t make it through the pandemic, whether taken by Covid or not. I feel this is an acceptable minor amendment to tradition as, certainly during the early phases of the crisis during the restrictions, some were unable to enjoy the marks of respect that they might usually have expected at their funerals. Please gather in King Charles Street from 0900. See you there!
Finally, just to let you know that the there is an order form at the rear of this issue for 2022

As ever,
Bill Oliphant