12 January 2013
WILTSHIRE COUNTY ROYAL BRITISH LEGION
MINUTES OF THE 95th ANNUAL COUNTY CONFERENCE
HELD AT THE CIVIC CENTRE, TROWBRIDGE ON
SATURDAY 14th JANUARY 2017 COMMENCING AT 1100HRS
COUNTY COMMITTEE MEMBERS PRESENT AT CONFERENCE
County President General Sir Jack Deverell KCB OBE DL
County Chairman Mr M Swabey
County Vice Chairman Mr M Challinor
County Chaplain Rev’d A Pollard
County Ceremonial Officer Mr B Mitchell
County Treasurer Mrs D Walling
County Committee Member Mr B Kingscote
County Committee Member Mrs C Smith
County Committee Member Mr K Passant
County Committee Member Mr G Wilson
County Committee Member Mr R Wright
Community Fundraiser Mrs F Dobson
Membership Support Officer Mr C Prestwich
GUESTS IN ATTENDANCE
The Mayor of Trowbridge Councillor L Self
The Chairman of Wiltshire Council Councillor R Britton
President of Wiltshire Women’s Section Mrs M Havergal
Chairman of Wiltshire Women’s Section Mrs M Nunn MBE
The National Chairman Mr T Whittles and Mrs Whittles
South West Membership Council Rep Mr P Davies
The Chairman of Devon County Mr K Jeffery
The Chairman of Dorset County Mr G Nunn and Mrs Wright
The Chairman of Hampshire Mr S Goldby
The Chairman of Oxfordshire County Ms L Atkins
The Chairman of Somerset County Major R McDonald
Co-op Ms S Jackson
Co-op Ms S Lowery
Co-op Mr Neil Williams
Area Manager Mr A Maxwell
WILTSHIRE BRANCHES PRESENT
29 Delegates from the following Branches: Bratton, Bromham*, Calne, Chippenham, Corsham (2), Cricklade*, Devizes, East Knoyle, Semley and Sedgehill, Edington (SB only)*, Heddington and Stockley, Highworth, Malmesbury & Sherston, Melksham*, Morgans Vale, Redlynch and Woodfalls*, Potterne*, Royal Wootton Bassett*, Salisbury (2), Seend, Shrewton*, Stapleford & Berwick St James, Stratton St Margaret, Swindon, Trowbridge*, Warminster (2), Westbury, Wilton, Wroughton* (an asterisk signifies that a Standard was also present from that Branch).
The County Standard Bearer (Westbury), the Deputy County Standard Bearer (Wilton) and the Women’s Section County Standard Bearer led the Parade of Standards.
In addition there were 33 Visitors. Three Permanent Staff from 2003 (Stratton) Squadron ATC, a Cadet from Trowbridge ACF and 4 members from 10th Chippenham Air Scout Troop and Endeavour Explorer Unit attended after lunch.
The total attendance was 110.
OPENING OF CONFERENCE
Conference opened with the entry of Standards. The County President gave the Exhortation after which the Last Post was played. After observing the Silent Tribute, the Reveille was played and the Chairman said the Kohima Epitaph. The County Chaplain led the Prayers. Branch Standards then withdrew.
In his introduction the Chairman welcomed everyone, especially the guests and the National Chairman and the three Members of the Co-op whose company was generously sponsoring Conference. He ran through the Health and Safety Brief and then introduced the personalities on the top table and all the guests to Conference. He explained that there was no guest speaker and this would require some minor changes to the Agenda: there would be no Open Forum but there would be two opportunities within the Agenda to ask questions of the Speakers. He then introduced the Mayor of Trowbridge.
WELCOME BY THE MAYOR OF TROWBRIDGE
The Mayor thanked the Chairman for inviting her to attend this 95th Conference of the Royal British Legion Wiltshire County and welcomed to Trowbridge all those present. It is the fifth time that the County has held its conference in Trowbridge. She said that Trowbridge has strong links with the RBL and the Armed Forces and that the town thoroughly appreciates the Legion’s involvement within the community, especially on Armed Forces Day and at Remembrance time. The Mayor finished by wishing the County a successful Conference.
COUNTY PRESIDENT’S ADDRESS
The County President thanked the Mayor for her kind words and said it was good to be back in Trowbridge, our County Town. He welcomed the guests and all those in attendance and noted that there appeared to be more present than in previous years, with few empty seats. He then read the Loyal Greeting which he had sent to the Queen, and Her Majesty’s gracious response.
Tsar Nicholas 2nd had remarked that 1916 had been a terrible year and that he was sure 1917 would be better; he was to be disappointed! A hundred years on 2017 will be an equally interesting year with the progress of Brexit and election of Donald Trump, combined with the considerable external threats and the resurgence of Russia. The British Public and Press are worried about the outcomes and are concerned about what to do. The Public have lost confidence in the use of military force after the unsatisfactory outcomes of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – and an example of this was the reaction to the sight of an antiquated Russian aircraft carrier steaming through the Channel. So much uncertainty will impact upon the way our defence is used and the allocation of money it receives.
Fewer people today understand military service but we in the RBL do understand and so we have a role to explain to the public what military service is about and how military force can be used. It is a role that falls to all of us and we must use our best judgement in applying it and so we must not just look inwards but also outwards.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
The following apologies had been received:
The High Sheriff, Sir David Hempleman-Adams
The Chairman of Cornwall RBL
Mr and Mrs John Underhill
Mr John Haviland of Langford and Wylie Branch
Brig Carl Hewitt of Minety Branch
Mrs Maureen Perry of Wilton Branch
Mr Alvin Weeks of Morgans Vale, Redlynch and Woodfalls Branch and County Committee Member
Mr David Scovell Chairman of Salisbury Branch
Mr Kevin Toft of Seend Branch and the outgoing County Standard Bearer
APPOINTMENT OF SCRUTINEERS
The following members were appointed as Scrutineers:
Mr John Mouland Morgans Vale, Redlynch and Woodfalls
Mr Bill Sherman Trowbridge
Mr I Woodford Wroughton and District
The Scrutineers agreed the count of 27 Delegates.
(There were in fact 29 Delegates but two had not registered as such and had not collected their voting cards).
ADOPTION OF STANDING ORDERS FOR THE CONDUCT OF BUSINESS AT CONFERENCE
The Chairman proposed the adoption of Standing Orders for conduct of business at County Conference.
Seconder: Mrs Jane Woodford Wroughton and District
MINUTES OF COUNTY CONFERENCE 2016
The Minutes of the County Conference held at Trowbridge on 16 January 2016 were approved as a true record.
Proposer: Col Michael O’Donoghue Bratton
Seconder: Mrs Irene Sinclair Chippenham
There were no matters arising.
PRESENTATION OF REPORTS
The Chairman welcomed all present to the Wiltshire RBL’s 95th Annual Conference. The Annual Report and Plan for 2017/2020 are in the Conference Handbook, which was sent to Delegates before Christmas and he would not therefore dwell on them in detail but was happy to take any questions on them.
2016 had been a year of national and local change as well as one of commemoration and celebration, which included the celebration of our Patron’s 90th Birthday. The Annual Report shows that the County has enjoyed another busy year and he reminded Conference that the Plan is a living document which will be reviewed periodically throughout the year and amended as the corporate strategy develops.
The introduction of the Membership Services Project (new renewals process) in late 2015 cost the County 720 members. This represented 13% of our membership but this was better than the national average which saw an 18% loss of members. Despite this our membership remains strong and towards the end of the year we were beginning to recover some of our losses, thanks to the hard work of branches and particularly membership secretaries. The County membership now stands at 3,700 which is distributed between our 45 branches and 5 sub branches. We also have 6 clubs, which hold about one third of the county membership, and which continue to function in spite of difficult trading conditions. The Executive Committee remain committed to supporting our clubs as far as is possible.
Our branches continue to be active across the full range of activities and our Standard Bearers are always at the forefront of our main events. The Chairman thanked them for their commitment and for the training and event support given by Brian Mitchell and Cathy and John Smith. He reminded branches that Standard Bearers, particularly new ones, should be encouraged to attend training in order to maintain standards.
The main County events continue to be the County Parade and Service of Rededication, Fovant Badges, Poppy Launch, the Salisbury Festival of Remembrance and the Field of Remembrance at Lydiard Park. This year, the Chairman also attended the Somme 100 event in Thiepval on 1 July where he proudly laid a wreath on the grave of an unknown Wiltshire soldier and the Vice Chairman attended the National Remembrance event in Manchester.
Branches remain committed to welfare and the support of our beneficiaries. The Executive Committee on behalf of the County Welfare Committee (currently in abeyance) had almonised £26,300 from the County Welfare Fund against the £105,000 granted to the 226 beneficiaries within the County during the year. This sum puts Wiltshire third in the order of counties, which is an excellent achievement for a small county. It is only made possible by the donations (just over £32,000 in year) from our branches and the Chairman thanked branches for their support.
Fundraising had another good year and the County Poppy Appeal raised £674,000 equalling the sum raised in the previous year. The Chairman thanked the CFR, Fi Dobson, and all the Poppy Appeal Organisers and their collectors.
2017 will be a year of challenges and changes which will provide new opportunities for branches and members. The new Corporate Strategy is aimed at modernizing the Legion and making it more relevant and efficient. An important part of this will be the RBL’s role in the establishing the National Veterans Gateway and which will see us working more closely with sister charities. The Strategy will also introduce clear recognition of the importance of the role of membership; something we have been pressing for in recent years.
The roll out of the Branch Community Support (BCS) project is part of this plan. Ten Wiltshire Branches are signed up to this project and the Executive Committee strongly encourages other branches to become involved and would like to see at least 50% of branches signed up to the project by the end of the year. There are five key activities within it, all of which most branches currently undertake. The County will be introducing a new County Community Support Committee under the Vice Chairman, which will have the role of promoting the BCS and supporting branches in administering it.
2017 is an election year for the County, which will provide a great opportunity for individuals to get involved in helping to shape the future of the RBL in Wiltshire. There is currently a vacancy on the Committee and the post of County Poppy Appeal Coordinator is also gapped. Shortly the post of County Training Officer will also become vacant when Mike Challinor takes on the role of Chairman of the Community Support Committee. The Chairman asked members to consider volunteering for these roles and thanked the Vice Chairman for holding the role of Training Officer for the past 10 years.
We recently introduced a scheme whereby members of the Executive Committee are allocated a group of branches. The aim is to improve communications between the Committee and branches and to be a source of advice for branches and to provide feedback from our branches to the Committee. The Chairman asked branches to make good use of this opportunity. He also asked branches to continue to use the County website and thanked Keith Passant for his commitment in maintaining it.
The Chairman ended his report in thanking the County Executive Committee, the President, his own family and the MSO for their support and help throughout the year.
There being no questions the Chairman asked for a vote on both his Report and the County Plan:
Proposed: Mr Tom Blundell Royal Wootton Bassett
Seconded: Mr John Lankester Cricklade
The County Treasurer told Conference that a Head Office instruction during the course of the year had required Counties and Branches to amalgamate their various accounts into one. Accordingly the County General and Benevolent Accounts have now been combined into one account. However, she still keeps two separate funds within the account and this enables her to safeguard the benevolent money which may only be spent on Welfare. The Treasurer remarked that some branches are yet to amalgamate their accounts and she offered her assistance to any branches that required it.
The audited County Account for 2015/16 is in the Conference Handbook which was circulated to branches before Christmas. The year end balance was £38,753.93
The General account ended this financial year £135 down on the previous year. The primary income for this account was from the annual grant from Head Office which was £4,796. This was £1,819 less than the previous year. The account is used for County Administration, which includes the administration of the Salisbury Festival of Remembrance, the profit from which is paid to the Poppy Appeal.
The Benevolent Fund is £10,371 down on the previous years ending balance. There was over £32,000 of donations during the 2015/2016 financial year, some of which were:
RBL Burbage and Easton Royal 21,300.00
RBL Ramsbury 5,000.00
RBL Chippenham 2,500.00
RBL Seend 1,000.00
RBL Morgans Vale, Redlynch & Woodfalls 1,000.00
RBL Wilton (Charity Night held in The Bear) 600.00
RBL Biddestone & Slaughterford, Barford St. Martin and Potterne 400.00 each
RBL Corsham and Downton 300.00 each
RBL Cricklade 200.00
The Treasurer said that the County Executive Committee is very grateful for these donations and that we have already received further donations in the current financial year. These donations helped us to support beneficiaries in Wiltshire to the value of £26,300.
In closing her report the County Treasurer wanted to thank Brian Easterbrook who organises the annual Festival of Remembrance in Salisbury in aid of the Poppy Appeal. In 2015/16 the Festival raised £4,426.01.
There being no questions the County Chairman requested a vote on the County Treasurer’s Report:
Proposed: Mr Donald Anderson Morgans Vale, Redlynch and Woodfalls
Seconded: Mr Bob Giddings Salisbury
ADDRESS BY THE NATIONAL CHAIRMAN - MR TERRY WHITTLES
The National Chairman (NC) welcomed all those in attendance and told Conference that he would begin his talk by looking back over the past year and then have a look at the future before ending with some of his own thoughts.
2016 had been quite a year, with the success of Team GB at the Olympics, HM The Queen’s 90th Birthday and the party on the Mall and ending with some free publicity when FIFA refused to allow the British Teams to wear poppies on their shirts, which conveniently gave the RBL the opportunity to explain the relevance of Remembrance and the Poppy symbol. He had attended the commemoration of the Battle of Jutland in Scapa Flow and the Somme events. The RBL had been responsible for running the ensuing 141 services of commemoration at Thiepval. The final event was on 18 November, The National Chaplain, Bishop James Newcome, had officiated and the NC had attended the service.
In November the RBL was selected to run the new Veterans Gateway and during the bidding process we had enjoyed good support from other Service Charities. It will provide a one stop shop service to point beneficiaries to the best charity to meet their needs. The official launch is in April and initially it will be for veterans only; however, the RBL plans to keep it going beyond the initial two year period and then to open it to serving personnel as well.
The Public Affairs and Campaign team had a highly successful year with the Mesothelioma Campaign, Insult to Injury (War Pensions) and with the current Count Them In Campaign (to include Service questions in the next Census). The work of this team impacts on the lives of thousands of veterans.
The Poppy Appeal had a very good year raising £46.6m and it looks as though the final sum raised this year will be very similar.
The NC said that the Membership Services Project (annual membership renewal) had not gone well but this year was going better, though it was still not good enough and he understood the frustrations that this caused branches and individual members.
The National Memorial Arboretum now has a new, world class visitor centre with excellent facilities and work has now begun to repair the Armed Forces Memorial.
At the end of October/early November the Chairman of Women’s Section and he had signed a joint declaration on the way forward for Women’s Section. The NC hoped that the solution will be in place by 1 October this year. Unfortunately rogue elements in the Press continue to print damaging and inaccurate stories, which create discord at local level.
The NC then turned to look to the future and said that far too often we hear the public and other organisations expressing surprise at how much we do; we have therefore developed a new statement which explains what we do. It is called “Our Purpose” and a pamphlet will be made available to the public in due course - currently it is only available on the intranet. It uses the following sentence: “The Legion is at the heart of a national network that supports our Armed Forces community through thick and thin – ensuring their unique contribution is never forgotten”.
We are now working closely with other military charities and Government bodies. The NC stressed that it is not a competition - we are all working to try to achieve what is best for our servicemen and women, veterans and their families.
The new 5 Year Strategy extends to 2021. Many of our beneficiaries are older and have more complex needs. There is pressure on national and local government spending.
- The Legion is not doing another Pathway for Growth programme; we just want to deliver the best support we can to our Armed Forces both past and present and their families.
- We want to improve the way we run our business and we must stop working in silos.
- We will continue to champion commemoration and will ensure that the torch is passed on to the next generation.
- We are going to forge stronger links with our membership and improve the way that we manage them.
We are now trying to use the term “Advice and Support” in place of Welfare – because of the negative undertones associated with “Welfare”.
For far too long the Legion has suffered from poor communication between its departments. The new Executive Board is no longer operating like that and we are now working with other charities. The Plan to put in place the new Strategy should be ready by the end of March.
Currently we are developing a clearer purpose for our membership. We want to increase the member’s involvement and the BCS scheme is an example of this – it is simply an extension of the way that branches already operate but Head Office need to know the extent of the work (the numbers) done at local level and so the NC encouraged branches to register for the scheme. There is a plan to move to a simplified governance structure and to make more use of the digital space.
The NC then explained the plans to recreate a pilgrimage to the battlefields in 2018. The hope is that two members per branch, including Women’s Section branches, will attend a five day programme based on the battlefields and the Menin Gate. It will take place around 8 August, 100 years on from the first day of the 100 day offensive which led to the end of the First World War (and the day known as “the black day for the German Army”). The original pilgrimage took place in 1928 and it saw 10,000 veterans travel to the battlefields culminating with a march past at the Menin Gate. The NC urged the Branches to support this initiative.
The NC ended his talk with a few of his own thoughts. He does not see himself simply as a figurehead, nor is he solely involved with the membership. His role is to see that the RBL delivers the best support for our community, both beneficiaries and membership, and continues to deliver remembrance. He has four aims:
- To streamline internal governance – from Board of Trustees to branches.
- To create a Group structure.
- To improve our cooperation with other military charities and related organisations.
- To regularly monitor the new strategy and to ensure that it succeeds.
Conference adjourned for lunch at 1255 hours and reassembled at 1345 hours.
PRESENTATION BY THE CO-OP
Mrs Sue Jackson, the Regional Organiser of Co-op Funeral Care, introduced her members of staff and they gave a short talk about the Co-op charitable foundation scheme. Mr Neil Williams explained how the foundation is funded and told Conference that they rely on their members and members of the public to recommend local charities for them to support. The foundation supports charities and institutions with less than £1m turnover and the current application round is open until 25 January.
WOMEN’S SECTION’S ADDRESS
The Chairman introduced Mrs Malcolm Havergal as the President of the Wiltshire Women’s Section (WS) and also the Central Committee Representative for the five counties of the South West Region.
The theme of Mrs Havergal’s talk was the future of WS. She said that change is never easy but that an organisation that was founded in 1921 has to adapt to the very different situation 95 years on. There is a working Group, which consists of two members of the WS Central Committee and three members of the RBL’s Board of trustees. They have come up with key areas of change and these have been agreed both by WS and the RBL. The changes will begin to be implemented from 1 October 2017.
- WS membership will abide by the governance arrangements of the RBL, and shall be accountable to the Membership Council, to which it shall be entitled to appoint one member.
- The Section will be called The Royal British Legion Women’s Section.
- WS will retain its National Status, National Standard and ceremonial dress.
- The WS Chairman will remain on the Board of Trustees.
- The WS Chairman will continue to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday until November 2018, after which one wreath will be laid by the RBL National President on behalf of the whole organisation.
- WS accounting and funding practices shall follow RBL practice.
- The membership fees will be aligned to those of the RBL by 1 October 2019.
- WS Central Committee will continue to operate sub-committees for welfare, conference and finance and the Section’s schemes will be administered by the RBL Central Grants team.
- WS Branches will be eligible to attend and participate in Annual Conference, and from 2018 onwards a member of the WS will be able to stand for election to the National Conference Committee.
- The 2017 WS Annual Conference will take place in April, as usual, and it will be held in Eastbourne. Subsequent Annual Meetings of the Women’s Section will last no more than one day, and will be held between November and February to enable any motions or nominations to be submitted at least 13 weeks before the RBL Annual Conference.
Mrs Havergal said she is very grateful for RBL’s support in working out these arrangements and she is confident that better things are ahead and that the future of WS is brighter. There will be very little change at local level and she hopes that some of the branches that have closed over the past year will reopen.
PRESENTATION BY THE SOMERSET/WILTSHIRE AREA MANAGER – ALISTAIR MAXWELL
The Area Manager began his talk by congratulating the County on their Conference and he thanked them for the high profile events they stage, namely the County Parade, Fovant Badges and Lydiard Park. He also thanked the CFR for her excellent Poppy Launch, and the branches for their contributions to the County Welfare Fund.
During the year 15,000 people had contacted the Area team, which included 6,000 in Swindon, 400 in Tidworth, 1000 in Weston-super-Mare and 1,200 at outside events. Successful outreach events had been held in Calne, Warminster and Trowbridge and he thanked the branches involved. 2,283 people had sought assistance in Wiltshire and 251 grants had been made totalling just over £150,000.
He had received two applications from Wiltshire to spend the money held in branch property trusts but both proposals are currently too focused on property rather than in reaching out to more beneficiaries who need our support.
There are 5.3 welfare staff posts in Wiltshire and Somerset and the Area Manager had rebalanced these assets to provide Somerset with an additional .5 of a post. However, he stressed that there is no boundary when dealing with beneficiaries. We have worked with both Alabare in Wiltshire and Our Wilton, which has a veterans’ accommodation centre, and it is hoped to have some form of RBL presence based there in the future. We had also made a grant of £2,000 to Lyneham School to support children of service families with learning difficulties.
The Area Manager said that the RBL’s Contact Centre was the biggest force-multiplier the Legion has and he asked Conference to do their best to promote it. He believes that the new Gateway will have a similar impact. Within Wiltshire the Armed Forces Covenant is well supported and this will be increasingly important as the Army’s rebasing policy gathers momentum.
Our strongest partner is SSAFA but we also work closely with Combat Stress both in Swindon and at Tedworth House, with RAFA and with Alzheimer’s Support in Trowbridge.
The Area Manager ended by strongly encouraging branches to register for the Branch Community Support scheme.
QUESTIONS FOR THE SPEAKERS
The following Questions were put to the Speakers from the Floor:
Mr Bill Sherman, Trowbridge. Would the 2018 pilgrimage to the battlefield be open to Regimental Associations?
The NC replied it would be if there was room.
Mr Sherman. What is the RBL’s position on the IHAT and is its remit to be extended to cover Northern Ireland?
NC. The RBL does not get involved with individual criminal cases and the purpose of the IHAT is to prevent claims being made in the International Criminal Court. The NC accepts the concern that the IHAT is being extended to Northern Ireland and he is arranging a meeting to discuss the implications. He added that the RBL would not provide individuals with legal representation but will always provide any welfare support required.
Mr Dave Mort, Heddington and Stockley. Mr Mort said he had been encouraged by the NC’s talk especially by the emphasis on the membership which in the recent past had felt it was being ignored. But he is concerned about the flaws in the renewal process and the impact upon small branches. The Membership Administration Portal frequently goes down and the MS4 Form cannot be downloaded because of its size and it has to be printed double sided.
The NC said he would take these points back to London.
The President then asked Conference if this was a general problem and the response was a unanimous Yes.
Mr Paul Mayo, Calne. Questioned the 18% loss of members last year and said that more would be lost this year. Calne Branch had also been omitted from the on-line joining process on two occasions and the Branch is having great difficulty trying to identify who are members of the branch.
The NC thought last year’s loss had been 8%, but then accepted that 51,200 members represented 18%. He is very aware of the failures in the renewal process which is still not right and he had personally been a victim of this. He added that the Branch could request a print out of their members from Head Office or the MSO.
Mr Nigel Walker, Stapleford and Berwick St James. Referring to the Veteran’s Gateway and its extension to serving servicemen and women, surely this is the role of the Services not the RBL?
NC said that assistance is provided to serving personnel as well as veterans but he accepted that we should be careful of crossing over with the Services responsibilities.
Mr Brian Mitchell, Trowbridge. Is the NC aware that there are to be no Standards deployed at the rearranged Rugby match in Bath in May?
NC was not aware of this and he would take it back to Head Office.
Mr Eddie Bridges, Westbury. Was concerned about the renewal letter which stated that if the remittance form was not completed when paying by cheque, then the cheque would be destroyed.
NC was not aware of this and he will take it back to the Membership Department.
ELECTION OF COUNTY CONFERENCE COMMITTEE AND
DELEGATE TO NATIONAL CONFERENCE
- County Conference Committee. The Chairman said that three members are required from the Floor for this Committee. The current incumbents are Mr Peter Collier, Mr David Packwood and Mr Phil Davies. Both Peter and David are prepared to stand again but Phil has to stand down because, as a member of the Membership Council, he is not allowed to be on any County Committees. The Chairman asked for one more volunteer but no one was forthcoming and the Chairman then asked Conference to agree the election of Peter Collier and David Packwood and to authorize the Executive Committee to appoint a third member.
Proposed: Mr Peter Collier Corsham
Seconded: Mr Paul Mayo Calne
- County Delegate to Conference. The County Chairman said that he is not available to attend National Conference in Southport on 21/22 May but the Vice Chairman is prepared to attend as the County Delegate. He asked for Conference’s approval that the Vice Chairman should be our delegate.
Proposed: Mr David Packwood Corsham
Seconded: Mrs Sue Porter Swindon
LOCATION AND DATE OF CONFERENCE IN 2018
The Chairman explained that no Branch has proposed an alternative location for Conference in 2018. The County Conference Committee has therefore recommended that, following the success of Conference in the Trowbridge Civic Centre for the past four years, it should be adopted as the location for Conference in 2018. The Chairman proposed the date should be the second Saturday in January and asked for a Seconder for the location and date:
Proposed: County Chairman
Seconded: Mr Len Blake Shrewton
LOCATION FOR COUNTY PARADE AND REDEDICATION SERVICE IN 2017 AND 2018
The Chairman said that bids had been received from Royal Wootton Bassett and Trowbridge Branches to hold the County Parade and Service of Rededication in 2017. He invited both Branch Chairmen to outline their plans to Conference, after which Delegates would be asked to vote for their preference.
Both Chairmen spoke to Conference and a vote was then taken the result of which was:
Royal Wootton Bassett 14 Votes
Trowbridge 13 Votes
The County Chairman said that the Parade and Service will therefore be hosted by Royal Wootton Bassett Branch in 2017. He then told Conference that SSAFA have asked us to join with them, and possibly other service charities, to hold a service in Salisbury Cathedral in 2018 to commemorate the end of the First World War. The plan is only in outline at present but if it goes ahead it is hoped to invite neighbouring Counties to participate and the event would be in place of our annual Parade and Service. If this plan falls through then Trowbridge Branch would be asked to host the Parade instead.
MOTIONS FROM BRANCHES
The Chairman told Conference that one Motion had been received from Morgans Vale, Redlynch and Woodfalls Branch concerning the policing of their remembrance parade but that the Conference Committee had decided not to run it because it is a local issue. However, he intended to work with the Branch with the intention of raising the matter with Wiltshire Council and the Chief of Police.
COUNTY AWARDS – for the year 2015/16
The County President together with the Chairman of the Council made the following awards:
THE COUNTESS OF SUFFOLK CUP – awarded for efficiency to the winner in the large Branch category.
1st Place Warminster
2nd Place Corsham
THE STILLWELL CUP – awarded for efficiency to the winner in the small Branch category.
1st Place East Knolye, Semley and Sedgehill
2nd Morgans Vale, Redlynch and Woodfalls
THE FOSTER-CURTIS CUP –awarded for the best membership retention rate for the Branch with a club attached. No such Branch finished the year in positive territory but the three Branches with the smallest decrease were:
1st Place Corsham -3.4%
2nd Place Salisbury -4.8%
3rd Place Burbage -8.1%
THE HEAVYSIDE CUP – awarded for the highest percentage increase in membership during the year.
1st Place Highworth 38.7%%
2nd Place Melksham 16.0%
3rd Place Potterne 15.6%
4th Place Barford St Martin 14.3%
THE COLONEL TEMPEST CUP – awarded for the highest percentage increase in Poppy Appeal collections over 3 years 2013/2014/2015.
1st Place Mrs Gill Brasher Berwick St James + 79.8%
2nd Place Mrs Susie Fitzgerald Horningsham + 37.7%
3rd Place Major Anthony Markham Salisbury Districts + 30.4%
These results are based on the highest percentage increase over the last three years providing that the PAO has been in post for the duration. However, special mention should go to two PAO’s who were not eligible to be included, due to their length of time in place: April Porter, Swindon and Karen Stanbrook, Tidworth. They have both nearly doubled their District’s income within two years. Other thanks must go also to may other longstanding PAO’s who have continued to grow their Poppy Appeal income over many years.
THE ANNUAL STANDARD BEARERS’ COMPETITION
1st Place Dale Williams Westbury
2nd Place Lee Glyde Wilton
3rd Place Ian Woodford Wroughton
THE LORD LIEUTENANT’S CUP – awarded to the Youth Group which collected the most for Poppy Appeal in 2015/16.
1st Place 2003 (Stratton) Squadron ATC
2nd Place 1304 (Chippenham) Squadron ATC
3rd Place Trowbridge Detachment Wiltshire ACF
4th Place 10th (Chippenham) Air Scout Troop and Endeavour Explorer Unit
5th Place Larkhill Detachment Wiltshire ACF
6th Place Swindon Detachment ACF
7th Place TSResolution
8th Place 1244 (Swindon) Squadron ATC
Mrs Irene Sinclair Chippenham Branch
The Chairman thanked all those who had so generously donated Raffle prizes and Mr B Mitchell, Mrs Owen and Mrs Sherman for running the Raffle. The Raffle had raised £401.50 and would be very helpful in offsetting the costs of Conference. Prizes were handed out by members of the 10th (Chippenham) Air Scout Troop and Endeavour Explorer Unit.
PRESIDENT’S CLOSING REMARKS
In his closing remarks the President thanked the members for attending Conference, the Speakers, the National Chairman, the guests, the sponsors and all those responsible for arranging Conference.
In his opening remarks he had spoken of the uncertainty and threats which we currently faced and he reminded Conference of this. He then quoted Danton, who when asked if the French Revolution was turning out as planned had said “the Revolution is far too large to be perfect in every part”. The President suspected that the same applies to the Legion but that we are moving in the right direction, though we do need to remember to keep looking outwards.
We represent the values and standards of the Armed Forces: Service and Duty and Service before Self, are standards which are at odds with large numbers of the population. He is concerned that the accusations being investigated by the Iraq Historical Allegations Team (IHAT) emanating from Iraq, Afghanistan and now Northern Ireland will impact on the reputation of the Armed Forces. The public will not understand that these operational theatres are any different to what happens on mainland Britain and this could begin to start the public questioning what we do. We as veterans and members of the RBL may well be asked by members of the public if these allegations can be true and we must be prepared to respond.
Turning to Remembrance, the President said that years ago we would all have known someone who was killed in the First World War; a War in which 25% of 18 to 40 year old were killed. Passchendaele, or the third battle of Ypres, which was fought from July to November 1917, was one of the hardest battles to justify and its centenary will be commemorated this year. The President left Conference with the final thought that Remembrance today has transferred the memory of those who died in WW1 from who they were to what they did.
RE-ENTRY OF STANDARDS
The Standards entered and the President presented the County Standard to the County Standard Bearer, Mr Dale Williams, and duly charged him with his duties.
Conference remained standing for the singing of the National Anthem after which the Standards withdrew.
CLOSE OF CONFERENCE Conference was closed at 1555 hrs.