RNA General Secretary Capt Paul Quinn RN (Rtd) has handed on the baton to his successor following the December National Council meeting in Portsmouth.
S/M Paul (pictured) was formally dined out by National Council members and staff from Central Office at the WOs & SRs Mess in HMS Nelson on the eve of the meeting, and, on completion of some final paperwork, he stepped down and was succeeded by S/M Bill Oliphant, who retired as the Captain of Portsmouth Naval Base earlier this year.
Speaking of S/M Paul’s legacy, National President S/M John McAnally said he had been “absolutely outstanding” in the role.
“He combines in one person the very rare characteristics of being able to conceive of ground-breaking projects, to manage them to triumphant initiation, monitor their progress and adjust as necessary – and also to raise the funds that make them possible,” said Admiral McAnally.
“The list is almost endless, but to refresh your memories we’ll pick on just four – the Naval Service Memorial, Project Semaphore, which has done so much to end digital isolation for so many shipmates, the Shipmates and Oppos programme for Naval and Royal Marines leavers and the LIBOR minibuses available to us all.
“Paul has been a wonderfully diligent servant of National Council, organising to a T our meetings and, more widely, the annual conferences and reunions and the biennial parades.
“He has brought our Association much closer to the serving Navy and raised its profile more widely by such means as extending Area 4’s excellent mentoring of Raleigh recruits to produce culture and values training across the Navy, developing relationships with senior officers and with the Command Warrant Officers, lecturing to Commanding and Executive Officers and Warrant Officers courses and sitting on the Council of the Confederation of British Service and ex-Service organisations.”
The Admiral added that it was not just S/M Paul’s workrate that will be remembered.
“A fair and frank friend to all, he is always approachable and ready for a laugh and he leads brilliantly a small but most effective team at Semaphore Tower which, typically, he renamed Central Office rather than HQ better to reflect its role as the servant rather than the boss of shipmates.”
Admiral McAnally then presented Paul with his retirement gift of shopping vouchers, paid for by donations from branches and shipmates around the country, while Paul’s wife Liz was presented with flowers and chocolates.
S/M Paul said he was speechless at the generosity of his shipmates, but managed to recover his voice to contemplate his time in the hot seat since taking over on Sword Beach in Normandy in June 2010.
He said he had been amazed and delighted by the willingness of the National Council to embrace change and progress, and he picked out some highlights over the course of eight years or so, including national conferences at Plymouth (“with more raffle prizes than I have ever seen”), Ouistreham in Normandy (“remember the apple sorbet floating in a sea of Calvados…?), Dublin this year, featuring memorable performances by a harpist and young Irish dancers, and Liverpool, with the late, great Dave Tollerton’s epic SODS Opera and RNA technical expert Lyndon Ford’s session on the organ in St George’s Hall.
He added that, “being made a Life Member of the Association, I am delighted to continue my connection in this way – and as I have told Bill and Keith, remain available to help out – on the complete proviso that I don’t get under the feet of the new General Secretary or the Central Office staff.”
S/M Paul’s workload is unlikely to decrease significantly in ‘retirement’ as he continues to support groups and charities in various roles, including Trustee.