At a Special Conference held earlier this afternoon, Branch Delegates unanimously supported the Motion to reduce subscriptions to zero opening the door for our Association to shift to a donation based income model. This is undoubtedly a major decision and it is a very special day in our history. The willingness of Shipmates to embrace significant change was not surprising but it was and is heartening.
We recognise the risk in this but we also believe that there is even more risk in the status quo as we have been losing approximately 1000 members a year for the last 6-7 years and it gives us a real opportunity to grow our proud organisation once again. I must also express my huge thanks to the RNRMC who have been at the forefront of this initiative and with whom we will work closely to deliver the desired success. It is important to reach more of the naval veteran community out there as I firmly believe that anyone who has served in Her Majesty’s, or indeed His Majesty’s, naval forces, deserves the dignity of companionship. Something which our beloved organisation does so well.
As the Archbishop of Canterbury remarked on national television, there will come a time to celebrate our eventual deliverance from Covid and also a time to mourn those we have lost but not been able to give the send-off we would like. With that in mind, I hope that next year’s Annual Conference can provide an occasion for celebration and as you probably know our honorary chaplain Martyn Gough, Chaplain of the Fleet, has kindly agreed to conduct a special service at the National Memorial Arboretum in which we will commemorate all our shipmates who have crossed the bar during the pandemic.
As we all contemplate what 2021 will bring, may I close 2020 by extending a huge and heartfelt thank you to everyone across the Association, who has worked so hard and so tirelessly throughout the year to ensure support for all those in need or simply just make life a bit more bearable. This year has been truly unprecedented, and our shipmates have met each and every challenge with amazing dedication and commitment.
So, despite the restrictions, it just remains for me to say, wipe away your tiers (boom, boom!) and have the best Christmas you can in the circumstances and don’t forget to pick up the phone to shipmates who might be on their own.
Merry Christmas and very best wishes for the New Year.
Vice Admiral John McAnally