Royal Naval Association (RNA)

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Previously circulated Central Office advice still stands but, as self isolation and social distancing come closer, we need to take stock locally on how we can care for ourselves and each other as shipmates. Many shipmates are in the high-risk groups - particularly our senior members. There is a risk of information overload on Covid 19. This brief summary does not replace official advice but seeks to simplify it with an emphasis on senior shipmates. So, what’s going on and what can you do?

Have I got it? The symptoms have been very well described but in summary key symptoms are fever with high temperature and hot to touch on chest and back with repeated dry cough. However sometimes shortness of breath, fatigue, aches and pains, sore throat, headaches are experienced. Many of the “sometimes” are what many seniors live with anyway.

How do I avoid it?  The virus is taken into the body through the mucous membranes: eyes, nose and mouth and is most likely to be transferred by touching your face after you have picked it up on your hands from a surface. See below but reduce your risk of infection by washing hands in warm water with soap or gel for at least 20 seconds; catch sneezes in tissues and dispose of them then wash hands. No tissue to hand? Use your sleeve is the advice. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with dirty hands and finally do avoid contact with people who are unwell. Keep a distance of 2m from others where practicable

What should I do? Follow all the advice given and do not panic. Avoid crowds. List what you need to do to be able to stay at home eg. getting medicines and food shopping and see if others can do it for you. Also, if staying at home, remember to keep active and mobile; move every 15 minutes or so and exercise if you can. Keep your mind active with books, crosswords and some TV. Catch up with friends by phone for conversation. What about a de-clutter ready for the spring?

I’m over 70, should I self-isolate (stay indoors)? – The Government are now advising this will be recommended soon for all but essential needs. It is not legally enforceable (as yet) but is good advice so be prepared for your life to change. Ask yourself is it really essential for me to go out or travel? Be particularly careful if you have underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, COPD or cancer as this puts you at much increased risk. We’re all different but do ask family, friends and shipmates for help.

What about seeing my family and friends? This is a matter for common sense and so long as you are careful you can have contact but avoid close contact, keep that 2m distance and wash those hands. Current advice is not to attend mass gatherings or pubs and clubs

What about food buying and my medicines? Panic buying of food is not the answer for any of us but do keep your stocks topped up. If you cannot get to the shops there will be others who can for you. Get your help in place. The same applies to your medicines.

 How can I help my shipmates? Practically if you are at lower risk and stay healthy then offer to help as above. Contact your more senior shipmates (but only if sure you are not infected) and ask if you can help in their self-isolation. Keep a safe distance of 1-2 metres when door is answered and find out what is needed. Keep your hands clean on returning items. Be aware of what else will be offered by community groups locally and share to shipmates. Even a copy of the newspaper dropped off is keeping shipmates in touch with what’s going on. For those more technically literate, setting up a Whats App group can keep everyone socialised or alternatively a Friends Group on Facebook as virtual Shipmates and Oppos. You can make it happen to everyone’s benefit.

If in the high-risk group and at home don’t be alone. Why not become a “Virtual Shipmate and Oppo” and keep in touch by phone, text or email or letter with each other. A chance to make new friends and contacts! Self isolation will mean social isolation for many seniors. Branch Secretaries should have contact details for all their shipmates that they can share to help make this happen but all shipmates in Branch can help. The Secretary and Welfare Advisor cannot reach everyone. Even if only have a group of three or four that will help.

What about NHS care? The NHS is there for essential use only as capacity will be really stretched in the coming months. Advice is not to go to your GP, Pharmacy or Hospital if you have symptoms but self isolate.

Where can I find out more or get help? There are many sources but key ones are the NHS ( and Government ( sites for current advice. Alternatively look at NHS 111 online ( for advice and assessment if feeling unwell but only call if you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home or your condition gets worse or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days.

Please distribute widely, keep following government public health guidelines and look after your oppos by phone. text or email.



Expenses Refund Policy – Covid-19

Whilst it is very disappointing that a number of Central Office organised events have had to be cancelled, we must take the advice of the Government around group gatherings, especially mindful that the majority of RNA members are in the high-risk group.

However, whilst all Central Office organised events up to the end of June 2020 have been cancelled, you should not be out of pocket for tickets or accommodation you may have already purchased.     

Try all avenues to get a refund

Central Office experience is that most firms are being kind enough to reimburse individuals; all cancellations we have made over the last couple of days (hire cars, accom and travel) have been reimbursed without question.

In the first instance, please pursue a refund from the travel company (See advice from National Rail enquiries at this Link) If you paid for tickets using a Credit Card, you may be able to get monies refunded from them or perhaps claim on your travel insurance.  If a refund is not forthcoming, please provide evidence that you have pursued all avenues and send this together with your tickets to RNA Central Office; you will need to complete an Expenses Form so that we have your bank details for payment.

Contact RNA Central Office

Please be aware that we have recently moved office, our new address is:

RNA Central Office, 1/87 Scott Road, HM Naval Base Portsmouth, Hants, PO1 3LU

If you have any questions, feel free to seek advice from Michelle, our Finance Manager or call 023 92 723823 or, as we may shortly be working from home, 07542 679819.

Keep up to date with the RNA

Please check the RNA website for updates on events, follow our Facebook page and of course read the Semaphore Circular (you can download it from the RNA website Members Area).    

Thank you for your patience and co-operation in these both challenging and uncertain times and keeping washing your hands regularly.



Further to my note of 09 March (BELOW), the Coronavirus crisis continues to escalate and only yesterday the World Health Organisation (WHO) reclassified this Covid-19 contagion as a pandemic meaning that the threat is now world-wide.   As previously noted the demographic of our membership is in a significantly higher risk group therefore the RNA is now updating our advice to branches and members which is above and beyond that issued by Public Health England.

We would be neglecting our duty of care to our shipmates if we did not give this the priority and respect it deserves.  The measures suggested below may therefore appear somewhat draconian however please understand that if we lose even one of our shipmates because it was spread at an Area/Branch or national event then it would be a tragedy.  Clearly, we don’t want to shut down operations but to carry on regardless may be construed as reckless.

The Government has a 4-phase action plan to combat this lethal strain and has just moved the country from the current phase of Contain to Delay.  The purpose of the Delay Phase is to push the bulk of the outbreak to the summer when there is less pressure on the NHS.  This implies that we should anticipate that this virus is likely to be around and virulent for the next several months.

With this in mind, and in consultation with both the National President and National Chairman, the decision to cancel this summer’s Conference in Liverpool has been taken.  How we might rearrange or fulfil our AGM responsibilities will be promulgated in due course.  In addition, the Welfare Seminar on 25 Apr and the Standard Bearers Competition on 16 May are also postponed.  Watch this space for rearranged fixtures.

The decision to do this has not been taken lightly however it is felt that early and decisive action is necessary not least before shipmates make bookings which later have to be cancelled.  Shipmates who have already booked will not be left out of pocket however every attempt should be made to use travel insurance or reimbursement through their credit cards.

 In addition, although we cannot dictate, Central Office now strongly recommends a policy of social distancing and therefore all Area/Branch meetings should be suspended indefinitely; there is no point in exposing potentially vulnerable shipmates to unnecessary risk.  We will update this guidance as soon as we feel it is prudent to do so.  For those Areas/Branches which have AGMs planned, these unusual attenuating circumstances warrant exceptional measures and delayed governance is an acceptable outcome.

This advice applies equally throughout   (Conference of Naval Associations)

Very Sincerely,
Bill Oliphant



As the Coronavirus continues to escalate, we are issuing the following urgent guidance above and beyond that issued by Public Health England due to the main age demographic of our membership being in a significantly higher risk group.

First identified in China in Dec 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) believes COVID-19 more severely affects older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes). The UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the UK from low to moderate and the PM has led another COBRA meeting today. Although not yet switching from the current phase of Contain to Delay, it was however suggested that further advice may be issued later this week focusing on protecting the most vulnerable groups – the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions.  Reducing social contact will form part of that.

Central Office is not yet cancelling any national events however this will remain under constant review as the epidemic develops.  Whilst each Branch Chairman may decide for themselves what precautions to take, including cancellation or postponement of meetings, Central Office strongly suggests you follow this advice:

  • If you or a family member are showing signs of illness, please do not attend your Branch meetings.
  • Self-isolate if you are displaying even minor flu like symptoms.
  • Minimise mass shared transport and wash hands thoroughly and regularly.

Any Shipmate who feels unwell should follow the advice from Public Health England. If a Shipmate is known to have been infected with COVID-19, then it is standard policy for Public Health to contact all those with whom he has been in contact. Full co-operation is expected to ensure the risk to other Shipmates – and members of the public – is minimised. We recommend the Secretary maintains an attendance book while the outbreak continues to be virulent

.If you are worried about a shipmate, please keep in contact with them via the phone and text to keep an eye on their wellbeing.  Please look after yourselves, each other and your families.

Very Sincerely,
Bill Oliphant