The Royal British Legion Standard

Wiltshire

*NEW* Minutes of County Conference 11th January 2014

12 January 2013

WILTSHIRE COUNTY ROYAL BRITISH LEGION

MINUTES OF THE 92nd ANNUAL COUNTY CONFERENCE

HELD AT THE CIVIC CENTRE, TROWBRIDGE ON

SATURDAY 11TH JANUARY 2014 COMMENCING AT 1100HRS

 

 

 

PRESENT AT CONFERENCE

County President                                            General Sir Jack Deverell KCB OBE

County Chairman                                            Mr M Swabey

County Vice Chairman                                     Mr S Ashman

County Treasurer                                            Mrs D Walling

County Chaplain                                             The Reverend A Pollard

County Secretary                                             Mr C Prestwich

Community Fundraiser                                     Mrs F Dobson

 

GUESTS IN ATTENDANCE

The Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire                    Mrs S Troughton

The Mayor of Trowbridge                              Councillor D Halik & Cllr Mrs D Halik

The Chairman of Wiltshire Council                 Councillor C Crisp

President of Wiltshire Women’s Section          Mrs M Havergal

Chairman of Wiltshire Women’s Section         Mrs M Nunn

The Director of Fundraising                           Mr C Byrne

The Vice Chairman of Dorset County              Mr D Wright and Mrs Wright

Wiltshire Farm Foods                                    Mr M Fitt

Wiltshire Riders Branch                                 Mr M Wakeland

Area Manager                                              Mr A Maxwell

Area Administrator                                        Mrs F Hedges

Area Advice & Information Team Leader          Ms K Walton

Case Officer                                                 Mrs S Long

Case Officer                                                 Mrs K Webster

 

WILTSHIRE BRANCHES PRESENT

32 Delegates from the following Branches: Alderbury, Bratton, Bromham*, Calne, Chippenham*, Colerne*, Corsham (2)*, Cricklade, Devizes*, East Knoyle, Semley and Sedgehill*, Edington, Highworth, Malmesbury & Sherston, Marlborough*, Melksham*, Minety, Morgans Vale, Redlynch and Woodfalls, Potterne, Purton*, Royal Wootton Bassett, Salisbury (2)*, Shrewton*, Steeple Ashton, Stratton St Margaret*, Swindon, Trowbridge*, Warminster, Westbury*, West Lavington, Wilton, (an asterisk signifies that a Standard was also present from that Branch).

 

The Melksham Women’s Section Standard Bearer and the Wiltshire Regiment Salisbury Branch Standard Bearer also attended.

 

The County Standard Bearer, the Women’s Section County Standard Bearer and the Deputy County Standard Bearer led the Parade of Standards.

 

In addition there were 37 Visitors and Cadet Detachments from Stratton St Margaret and Trowbridge. The total attendance was 116.

 

 

 

OPENING OF CONFERENCE

 

Conference opened with the entry of Standards.  The County President said 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.

 

INTRODUCTION

 

In his introduction the Chairman welcomed all in attendance and especially the guests.  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 there would be no Open Forum this Year but that there would be the opportunity to ask questions of the Speakers in the afternoon session.

 

LOYAL GREETING

 

The President then read out the Loyal Greeting at the end of which he introduced the Mayor of Trowbridge and asked him to say a few words to Conference.

 

WELCOME BY THE MAYOR OF TROWBRIDGE

 

The Mayor thanked the Chairman for inviting him to attend this 92nd Conference of the Royal British Legion Wiltshire County and welcomed to Trowbridge all those in attendance.  He noted that this was the second time that the RBL had held their annual conference in Trowbridge and he hoped they would continue to do so. The Trowbridge Branch is well known for being very active in the Town and with their assistance the Armed Forces Day event was now close to being the main event in the Town’s calendar, closely followed by the Remembrance Day Service and Parade.  He thanked all those in attendance for their work in helping to look after our servicemen and women, both past and present, and he wished the RBL continued success with the Poppy Appeal.

 

COUNTY PRESIDENT’S ADDRESS

 

The County President remarked that it was a pleasure to be back in Trowbridge again and he thanked all in attendance for making the effort to be at Conference today.  He said it had been a time of change for the RBL, but necessary change because the military population is decreasing and there is an aging veteran population. He asked the members to give the changes time to bed in but added that all of us at the sharp end of the organisation need to be able to reflect back to Head Office the impact of the changes and in doing so we should look at the new way of working rationally and logically.

 

The President thanked everyone who got involved with Armed Forces Day; the Trowbridge Day is an impressive event. He believes that the RBL, together with the Reservists and Cadets will become the Services representatives as they move into the new Super Garrisons behind the wire.

 

This year is the beginning of the 100 year anniversary of the First World War and he is concerned that some people will put about the wrong message.  He thought that Jeremy Paxman’s book was a positive contribution to putting a rational slant on the 750,000 British and 250,000 Commonwealth troops who had died.

 

General Sir Jack said he would have more to say at the end of Conference as he reflected on the business of the day but for now he wanted to thank the speakers for joining us today: Charles Byrne from Head Office, Mathew Fitt and the Lord Lieutenant and he wanted to thank everyone present today and those who got involved in the Poppy Appeal for their contribution to looking after our servicemen and women, past and present, and he ended by saying that there is still much to work to do.

 

The County Chairman then took over Conference

 

The Chairman welcomed all the staff from the Area Team who were with us today.

 

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

 

The following apologies had been received:

Mr R Garratt, the SW Region Membership Council Representative.

The Chairmen of Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Hampshire.

Mr C Gordon, the Assistant Director of Operations (South).

Mr A Nolson, Chairman of Bedwyn and Disctrict.

Mr J Robbins, Chairman of Bromham.

Mr J Lankester, Vice Chairman of Cricklade.

Mr A Watts, Cricklade Standard Bearer.

Lt Col AV Claydon, President of East Knoyle, Semley and Sedgehill.

Col J Brake, Chairman of Stapleford and Berwick St James.

Lt Col C Vere-Whiting, Chairman of Ramsbury.

 

APPOINTMENT OF SCRUTINEERS

 

The following members were appointed as Scrutineers:

Mr PA Burgess                       Colerne

Mr P Garland                          Westbury

Mr R Giddings                        Salisbury

 

The Scrutineers agreed the count of 32 Delegates.

 

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.  The proposal was seconded by Mr E Bridges the Westbury Delegate and Carried.

 

MINUTES OF COUNTY CONFERENCE 2013

 

The Minutes of the County Conference held at Trowbridge on 12 January 2013 were approved as a true record.

Proposer:         Mr M Challinor           West Lavington

Seconder:        Mr L Osborn               Cricklade

Carried.

 

MATTERS ARISING

 

There were no Matters Arising.

 

PRESENTATION OF REPORTS

 

County Chairman

 

Introduction

 

The Chairman began his Report by thanking all those who have assisted him in running the County during the past year: particularly all those in attendance today, the County President, the County Office staff, the Executive Committee and our Branches and he was especially grateful for the continued support of Mr D Compton the former member of the Board of Trustees. 

 

The past year has been one of change and challenge. It has also been a busy year for the Legion in Wiltshire.  We are fortunate in having many active Branches which involve themselves in local community events, both to raise funds and to promote the work of the charity.  During the past year they were involved in more than 30 local events and this activity is so important in forging ties with the local community, both military and civilian.

 

Active Branches are also important to develop our current links with other organizations including other service charities, Age Concern, the CAB, Town and Parish Councils as well as the Lord Lieutenant’s Office and Wiltshire Council. In Wiltshire we are very fortunate to be well supported by the RBL Women’s Section and the Riders Branch.

 

The Legion’s change programme, The Pathway for Growth, is now in place, the new structure is based upon 3 Regions and 16 Areas: Wiltshire and Somerset form one of these Areas and we welcome the Area Manager, Alistair Maxwell and his team here today.  The New Way of Working is based upon the 4 core activities of:

  • Health and Welfare
  • Comradeship
  • Representation
  • Remembrance

 

The change programme has taken 3 years to complete and it has not been an easy process. Difficulties with Head Office’s communication and the associated disinformation are not helped by the sheer size of the organization but there have been significant improvements in this area in recent months.

 

At this juncture the Chairman acknowledged the work of 3 members of staff who had been particularly affected by the second phase of the change programme and who have now left the team at the Cottage: Lisa Laing, Malcolm Shaw and Chris Christopher.  He thanked them for all their contributions over the years and said that their experience would be greatly missed.

 

The New Way of Working will be widely promoted in 2014 and Branches will welcome this opportunity to improve image of the RBL.  Full implementation of the new ways of doing business will require the involvement of more volunteers and there will be a wide range of roles for them to fill. The Chairman took this opportunity to recognize that the Branch Membership has been delivering against these 4 core activities for many years and is well placed to continue to do so within the new structures.

 

County Executive Committee and Staff

 

During the course of the year, the Executive Committee met four times with the majority of the Committee attending each meeting.  Sadly, Jim Wild, a long standing member of the Executive Committee and a one time County Chairman, died in August. He was a lifelong contributor to the RBL and he exemplified all that the Legion stands for.  The Committee was further weakened by the retirement of Derek Tilney and Len Blake and the Chairman wished to record his appreciation of all that they have done for the County.

 

Throughout the year the Committee have ensured the proper running of the County and continued to deliver the aims and objectives of the County Plan within the budget set. The Treasurer would cover the budget in more detail in her report but her careful management of the County funds has allowed a carry forward into the current year which will allow the purchase of further promotional items.

 

Welfare

 

The changes to the way welfare is now delivered have not allowed us to identify to date the number of cases that we have supported throughout the year, nor how much we have spent. However, Wiltshire remains a busy county welfare-wise. One of the principal aims of the Pathway for Growth is to reach more beneficiaries and to make it easier for them to access our assistance. There are now 3 ways in which they can do so:

  • The Knowledge Base – an online facility
  • The Contact Centre
  • Face to face meetings

 

As these systems bed in the role of Branches within welfare will develop.

 

Fundraising

 

Fundraising is the lifeblood of our charity and in which our Branches have had a longstanding and vital role.  The County’s Poppy Appeal Launch in October 2012 was held at Salisbury Racecourse and the subsequent Poppy Appeal raised over £550,000. This was a drop of 4% on the record 90th Anniversary year but it was up 1.9% on 2011.

 

Fundraising and donations are essential for the County Welfare Fund and Branches contributed a very generous £13,000 to this Fund during the course of the year.

 

Branches, Clubs and Membership

 

The County membership is down by 3.2% on the previous year and at 30th September stood at 4,637. Retention is steady but the number of new members at 383 was down. Gift Aid is running at 71% and there has been an improvement in Direct Debit payment which is now running at 52%.

 

We have not lost a Branch for many years but this will change this year with one Branch voting to close and at least two more moving to sub branch status. The main difficulty is in finding committee members. The County provided training courses for Secretaries, Treasurers, Standard bearers and Branch members during the year and caseworker training will recommence in February.

 

The change in the branch financial year has not seen an improvement in the submission of Branch audited returns.  There are currently 7 outstanding and there are also 9 MS1 forms which have not been submitted. The Chairman asked Delegates to check the situation within their Branches.

 

Monthly Circulars continue to be distributed by the County Office and the County website has been given a new lease of life by the new editor, Keith Passant. The membership often criticizes communication within the County but there is information on our website and Branch Secretaries should try to distribute relevant information from the Circulars to as many members as possible.

 

During the year Bedwyn Club closed which reduced the number of Clubs in Wiltshire to 6. Trading conditions for clubs is still not easy. The Penhill property was handed back to Swindon Borough Council and the Marlborough property was sold. The Bedwyn property will be put up for sale in 2014.

 

Ceremonial and Major Events

 

The main events this year were the County Conference, the Parade and Service of Rededication, Armed Forces Day celebrations, which took place in a number of locations, and Fovant Badges.  All of these were well attended.  The Parade and Service of Rededication was hosted by the Warminster Branch and they staged an excellent event with the salute being taken by the Lord Lieutenant. Two National events were staged at Lydiard Park and the Woodfalls Band ran a very popular Festival of Remembrance Concert in Salisbury which again featured the Salisbury Plain Military Wives choir.  Swindon Branch ran a Festival of Remembrance at the Wyvern Theatre and the Chairman thanked both Brian Easterbrook and Roy Smith for staging these two events. Wiltshire hosted a very well attended Regional Standard Bearers competition at the Services Cotswold Centre in Corsham. The Chairman thanked the Commandant for allowing us to use the Centre and he also thanked Women’s Section for providing the excellent refreshments and congratulated them on the outstanding performance of their Standard Bearer in winning the competition. Both Purton and Westbury dedicated new Standards during the year and Penhill arranged for their memorial to be moved to a new site outside St Peter’s Church.

 

A common theme of all these events is the strong attendance by Branch Standard Bearers.  This has been a characteristic of Wiltshire events for many years and we are all very grateful for their determination to turn out time and time again whatever the weather.

 

The County Plan

 

The Chairman then drew Conference’s attention to the County Plan for 2014/17 which was contained in the Conference Handbook and which provided the direction of travel for the County for the next 3 years.  The Plan is linked to the Area Plan and progress on meeting the objectives will be reviewed and reported on during the course of the year.  Successes in 2013 included:

  • The retention of members.
  • Achieving the agreed training programme, including the on line accounting system.
  • Filling vacancies on the County Executive.
  • Becoming a signatory to the recently refreshed Wiltshire Community Covenant.

 

However, we have failed to increase our membership and the Chairman urged Branches to make this a priority in 2014.

 

Looking Forward

 

The Pathway for Growth programme is now mostly in place and the task this year will be to iron out the glitches and to make it work efficiently.  Recruiting sufficient volunteers to support the programme and training them will be a major challenge.  The drawdown of British Forces in Germany over the next 4 years will see 4,000 extra troops stationed in Wiltshire together with their dependents. A significant percentage of those being made redundant have also chosen to settle within the County.  This will be a challenge for our welfare system but also an opportunity for us to forge closer ties with the Services and to recruit new members.

 

Over the next 4 years there will be many events to commemorate the principal events of the Great War.  The County is represented on the Wiltshire Support Group for WW1 commemorations and there will be many opportunities for our Branches to get involved.

 

The role of our membership in supporting the 4 Core Activities of Welfare, Comradeship, Representation and Remembrance as well as our fundraising duties will remain as important as ever. We are fortunate in retaining the Tidworth Office but our staff support is reduced which will have an impact on the service it is able to provide. Fortunately we now have an active MC representative and his work in improving the lines of communication with Head Office will be very helpful

 

The Chairman asked for a proposer seconder and a vote on his report.

 

Proposer:         Mr M Millward                       Wilton

Seconder:        Mr D Tilney                            Malmesbury and Sherston

Carried

 

County Treasurer

 

The County Treasurer drew Conference’s attention to the County General and Benevolent Accounts which are in the Conference Handbook and had been circulated to Branches before Christmas.

 

This Financial Year (FY) had only consisted of 9 months as Counties and Branches transitioned to the new FY which now runs from 1 July until 30 June.

 

The end of year balances for the two accounts were: General £1,725 and Benevolent £23,916.  There is also a small reserve of £2,850 in a savings account.  The General Account ended the FY down by £1,207 on the previous year mainly due to the planned purchase of a new roof section for the county marquee which cost £1,029.  The primary income to this account is the annual grant from Head Office which this year was £5,135.

 

The Benevolent Fund was up by £2,626 on the previous year’s balance, mostly due to the travel costs of our welfare caseworkers being handled centrally rather than through the County accounts. During the year there were substantial donations to this account totalling £13,266:

  • Chippenham Branch                         £4,000
  • Calne and Warminster                      £2,000 each
  • Highworth and District                       £1,597.79
  • Marlborough Council dinner               £700
  • Codford, Cricklade and Seend           £200 each
  • Corsham two donations, each of        £200
  • Various other donations totalling       £1,068.87

 

The Treasurer said that the County was very grateful for these donations and that further donations have been received for the current FY.

 

She ended her report by telling Conference that Head Office is in the process of introducing an electronic accounting system.  In the first phase, the County Accounts and 15 of our 52 Branches are now operating their accounts on-line, which is one of the best take up rates in the Country.

 

There being no questions, the Chairman thanked the Treasurer for her Report and then asked for a Proposer and Seconder for the accounts:

Proposed:        Mr P Mayo                              Calne

Seconded:       Lt Col A Williams                   Colerne

Carried

 

 

ADDRESS BY THE DIRECTOR OF FUNDRAISING (DF) - MR CHARLES BYRNE

 

Mr Byrne said how pleased he was to have the opportunity to return to Wiltshire which held many happy childhood memories for him. He had reduced the Corporate Message and put it into his own words and he promised to take back relevant comments from Conference to Haig House.

 

He first discussed the Branch Property Trusts and the need to transfer a substantial sum from unrestricted to restricted funds to make amends for historic breaches of the terms of these trusts.  He stressed that this had only a limited impact on the charity which has assets in excess of £300M.  There is still a lot of work to do to in resolving the issues related to these Trusts but good progress is being made.

 

He then talked about the New Way of Working, the Knowledge Base and the Call Centre which is now open 7 days a week from 8 am until 8 pm and it is currently resolving over 60% of the calls it receives. He explained the need to gather data to audit the effectiveness of the new procedures.

 

DF told Conference that there will never be enough resource for all the welfare needs and he talked of the role of volunteers in delivering this resource and said that there is still a lot of work to be done on volunteering.

 

Turning to the centenary of the Great War, Mr Byrne said that it would be important to guard against commercialization and to focus on the sacrifices that were made by so many. It would be necessary to keep out of debates and to remember at all times that the task is to commemorate those who had died.  He linked this to a recent visit he had made to the Somme and the impression it had made on him, especially the reaction of the younger generation.

 

The Director then spoke of the good work that Bob Gamble was doing with Armed Forces engagement and how he was improving the communications between the RBL and the serving community and he linked this to the membership and the need to look for members who wanted to support the Charity.

 

He then addressed a number of fundraising issues, starting with the Poppy Appeal which now stood at just over £33M and he thanked all those who got involved with the Poppy Appeal at ground level. There is a lot of competition for a limited pool of funds and fundraising conditions are currently very tough. He regretted that the “Door to Door” and Direct Mail initiatives trialled this year had upset local collectors and accepted that the best way to raise funds is by face to face communication which works well with the Poppy Appeal but the difficulty is that most of this money comes in as cash which is hard to administer.  Direct Marketing tends to bring in money through Direct Debits which is much easier to administer.  The RBL is well behind other charities in this field and he spoke of Cancer Research UK which raises £1M in direct debits whereas the RBL only raises £50K.

 

The RBL is asking the same donors too often for funds and the plan is to reduce this but to do so we need new supporters and this is being achieved by direct mailing and it is working. Unfortunately this year Head Office failed to tell those on the ground what it was doing and to communicate the need to look at more ways to support the Poppy Appeal. However, there has been a great improvement in merchandising, especially in new lines of clothing, which has helped to achieve a 600% increase in Poppy Shop revenue. But there remains the need to engage with younger people and to engage better across the whole range of society and his team are working on this.

 

 

PRESENTATION BY WILTSHIRE FARM FOODS

Mr Matt Fitt of Wiltshire Farm Foods (who generously sponsored Conference for the second year running), then gave a presentation on his Company, the way they operate and their products. They now produce 320 different meals and they have a have a team of volunteer tasters to make sure their new products are of the required standard. He talked about their delivery system, the pricing of the range, the simplicity of cooking the meals and said that there is no minimum quantity for delivery. He explained the care taken to ensure the menus are healthy and their strict observance of current advice which he illustrated with their recent decision to stop producing diabetic meals in favour of meals with reduced sugar content. All their meals come with the guarantee that they will be replaced if not enjoyed.

 

Conference adjourned for lunch at 1250 hours and reassembled at 1340 hours.

 

 

WOMEN’S SECTION COUNTY CHAIRMAN’S ADDRESS

 

The Chairman of Women’s Section began her address by telling Conference that their Melksham Branch were planning a trip to the National Memorial Arboretum and anyone who would like to join them should contact Mrs Shirley West.

 Mrs Nunn then told Conference of their County Standard Bearer’s success in winning the Regional Competition at Corsham early in the year and of her own promise to buy her a new Standard if she won. This had resulted in her leading a Women’s Section fundraising bicycle ride in the Shires Shopping Centre in October, which was supported by representatives of many of their Branches, the Trowbridge Branch and even the Mayor! Unfortunately the quality of the new Standard was not good enough and so it had to be returned.

 WS are very pleased now to have a youth representative on their Committee and hope that this will encourage younger women to join them. The Committee is in touch with local Girl Guides and RAF Cadets with the hope of recruiting new members or establishing an Affiliation.  Recently the County Committee had to take over the running of the Tidworth Branch in order not to lose the 80 Branch members.

During the year WS participated in several joint events with the RBL, most notably the County Parade, Fovant Badges and the Regional Standard Bearer’ Competition.  Mrs Nunn had also attended the Chairman’s seminar at Tedworth House which had been very informative.

 The redevelopment of the Barracks in Bulford will include the Study Centre and so it will not be available for their conference in 2014. However, the 2013 Conference had been another great success with the attendance of the National Chairman together with several servicemen and women, representatives of Riders Branch and the County RBL and with a good number of Standards present.  The total attendance was 153 which is a record for recent years.

Sadly both Freda Smallwood, one time Chairman of the County, and Margaret Hughes who had once been the County President died during the year.  Mrs Nunn had attended both funerals together with a good showing of Standard Bearers.

Mrs Nunn and other County members had attended National Conference in Eastbourne at which the RBLWS County Standard Bearer, Mrs Amanda Bearryman, had represented the South West Region in the National competition and she gained a very creditable 6th place.

 

 

PRESENTATION BY THE GUEST SPEAKER – THE LORD LIEUTENANT OF WILTSHIRE, MRS SARAH TROUGHTON.

The Lord Lieutenant gave a talk about the role of the Lieutenancy, its historical background and how it has developed into its current role. The post of Lord Lieutenant was first created by Henry VIII but not formalised until Charles II’s Militia Act of 1616.  The role did not change again until 1889 when County Councils came into being and the role of Lord Lieutenant developed into what it has become today. MrsTroughton has now been in post for two years and she talked of the selection and interview and appointment process and what her duties consist of within the County. She said that the first female Lieutenant had been created in 1974 and that today the split between men and women was about 60/40.  Mrs Troughton told Conference that she has the support of a back office in County Hall and that she has a team of about 30 Deputy Lieutenants to assist her. She ended her talk by thanking the County Committee for inviting her to speak and in wishing the County good luck with the Poppy Appeal.

 

PRESENTATION BY THE SOMERSET/WILTSHIRE AREA MANAGER – MR ALISTAIR MAXWELL

 

The Area Manager thanked the County Secretary and Treasurer for the work they do in the County on behalf of the Membership and himself. He told Conference that he was accompanied today by most of the Area Staff.  Mr Maxwell said that there were 8 points which he wished to make:

  • He was allocated 5.3 staff to manage the two Counties of Somerset and Wiltshire. All these posts had been filled by December 2013 but unfortunately both the Wiltshire Advice and Information Officers decided to leave to take up other appointments before Christmas.  The process of filling these posts would begin in the New Year.
  • A premises for the Swindon Office in Regent Street has now been agreed.  It is hoped to open the office in summer. However, opening the office is completely reliant on the appointment of sufficient volunteers.
  • Over the past year Wiltshire has handled in the region of 260 cases.  Currently both the Swindon and Wiltshire Case Officers have work loads of about 70 cases each. Later this year the AM will be able to provide the County Chairman with quarterly welfare statistics.
  • There are 5 converted Caseworkers in the County and more will be trained in February.
  • There are outreach locations established in various locations across Wiltshire and Swindon and in Tedworth House.
  • The Area Manager’s main effort to date, after filling the staff posts, has been in establishing partnerships with other organisations.  In doing this Wiltshire Council has been a great help and SSAFA has also been very helpful. At local level we have a very good relationship with H4H.
  • His plan is to coordinate visits to Branches throughout the year in conjunction with the County Chairman and County Secretary.
  • Delivering the Area plan will be dependent upon volunteers.  The AM would like to offer these opportunities to the membership in the first place.

 

QUESTIONS FOR THE SPEAKERS

 

The following Questions were put to the Speakers from the Floor. 

  • Mr B Darvill.  Poppy Merchandise.  Wristbands are very good for young people and Poppy Pins are popular but at £2.99 too expensive. A catalogue of merchandise would be useful.

DF replied there is a need for a greater range of products. He agreed there should either be a catalogue or a web based system. The new 1914-2014 poppy badge cost 7p to produce. Branches should be able to get them free through their PAOs.

  • Major P Williams. The issue of the Poppy Appeal school packs clashed with half term and so were of limited use.

DF replied that 500 of these packs had been trialled this year. They cost £50 to produce and can generate £250. On the whole they worked. He accepted the point about half term.

  • Mr E Bridges. Made a general point that War Memorials were the responsibility of the local Council. The RBL should not assist with funds but should encourage our members to help in other ways such as keeping the area tidy and cleaning memorials.
  • Mrs C Smith. There is a lack of Standard Bearer equipment.

DF commented that there is now a new Head of Trading and a professional buyer in place. 99% of products are delivered on time. The product range was very limited but it is now being improved. There is much more to be done including improving the service to members and the Head of Trading will be working on this. He is also investigating small trading opportunities and working on the provision of “a shop in a box”.

  • Mrs M Kneen. We need to be able to obtain Standard Bearer equipment from one place.

DF acknowledged this point.

  • Mrs I Sinclair. Retiring servicemen and women are not getting information about the RBL when they leave.

DF replied that this was the area that the Assistant Director Membership and Armed Forces Engagement is working on and he is aware that we need to reach out to cadets, reservists and serving service people.

  • Mr B Mitchell. In response to Mrs Kneen commented that the Ceremonial Working Group is working on one recommended supplier of Standard Bearer equipment. He then said the Head Office focussed too much on London and the South East and the need for better communications from London.

DF responded that he has taken the communications issue on board.  

  • Lt Col Williams. Said that there was a danger that the new Military Membership would break the link to local Branches.

DF said he would take this back to the Assistant Director Membership and Armed Forces Engagement.

  • Major P Williams. The RBL should work closer with H4H and the other military charities.

DF replied that COBSEO does ensure considerable cooperation between charities but raising money is competitive. A merger between charities might be too challenging but perhaps more collaboration was possible.

  • Mr M Waterhouse. The public are unaware that non military people can join the RBL. There is a need to inform the public.

DF said the Brand image is a challenging problem and there appears to be a division between the over and under 50s. Work is currently in hand to recruit a Marketing Director.

The Area Manager said that this should be tied in to recruiting the volunteers that we need.

 

In closing the Question session, the Chairman thanked Conference for the interest they had shown and the Director of Fundraising for fielding all the questions.

 

 

ELECTION OF COMMITTEES

 

  • County Executive Committee.The Chairman explained that in 2012 Conference had elected the County Executive Committee for a 3 year term.  In the past year two vacancies have arisen on the Committee and the Chairman asked Conference for their agreement to the County Executive Committee considering replacements at their next meeting on 25 January.
    • Proposed:        Mr M Challinor           West Lavington
    • Seconded:       Mr A Light                  Marlborough
    • Carried

 

  • County Conference Committee.  Three members are required from the Floor for this Committee.  The current incumbents are Mr P Collier, Mr D Packwood and Mr P Davies (who was appointed by the Committee to replace Mr R Kingshott on his retirement in 2013).  All three are prepared to stand again.  These appointments are made annually.
    • Proposed:        Mr E Scovell               Salisbury
    • Seconded:       Mr P Mayo                  Calne
    • Carried

 

  • County Delegate to Conference.  The County Chairman said that he was putting himself forward to be the County Delegate to National Conference.
    • Proposed:        Mr D Packwood         Corsham
    • Seconded:       Mr L Osborn               Cricklade
    • Carried

 

 

LOCATION AND DATE OF CONFERENCE IN 2014

 

The Chairman explained that no Branch has proposed an alternative location for Conference in 2015.  The County Conference Committee has therefore recommended that, following the success of Conference in 2013, the Trowbridge Civic Centre should be adopted as the location for Conference in 2015.  As the first Saturday in January 2015 falls on the 3rd this does not allow sufficient time between the New Year’s holiday and Conference and so he recommended that Conference in 2015 is held on the second Saturday which is 10 January.  The Chairman asked for a Proposer and Seconder for the location and date:

 

 

Proposed:        Mr D Packwood                     Corsham

Seconded:       Mr G Evans                             Highworth

Carried

 

LOCATION FOR COUNTY PARADE AND REDEDICATION SERVICE IN 2014 AND 2015

 

The Chairman said that Conference in 2013 endorsed that Salisbury should be the location for the Parade and Service of Rededication in 2014.  The date will be Sunday 8 June.  No application has been received for the Parade and Service of Rededication in 2015.  With Conference’s approval he suggested that the choice of location should be left to the County Executive Committee.

 

The Chairman asked for a vote.

 

Proposed:        Lt Col M O’Donoghue           Bratton           

Seconded:       Mrs C Smith                            Melksham

Carried

 

MOTIONS FROM BRANCHES

 

The Chairman told Conference that there were two Branch Motions this year from Corsham and Trowbridge Branches.

 

Motion 1 - Corsham

 

“This Conference agrees that any Motion rejected by Conference cannot be proposed again the following year but must be rested for a further year.”

 

The Chairman asked Mr P Collier of Corsham Branch to speak to their Motion. After Mr Collier had spoken the Chairman asked for comment from other Delegates.

 

Major P Williams (Trowbridge Branch) spoke in favour of the Motion.

Mr R Crawford (Warminster Branch) proposed an amendment to the Motion which would allow a Motion to be raised in consecutive years if there was relevant new evidence.

Mr P Mayo (Calne Branch) supported Mr Crawford’s amendment.

 

Mr Collier did not accept the amendment and the Chairman then asked for a seconder for the Motion.

 

Seconder:        Major P Williams        Trowbridge

A vote was then taken:

In Favour:       6

Against:           26

The Motion fell.

 

Motion 2 – Trowbridge

 

“This Conference urges the Board of Trustees to consider as a matter of urgency the need to improve the image of the Royal British Legion to its Membership, the In-Service Welfare Organizations, Service charities and other third Sector related charities.”

After Major Williams had spoken to the Motion, the Chairman asked for comment from other delegates. Mr P Mayo (Calne Branch) and Mr R Crawford (Warminster Branch) spoke against the Motion.  The Chairman then asked for a seconder for the Motion.

 

Seconder:        Mr M Challinor           West Lavington

A vote was then taken:

In Favour:       9

Against:           16

The Motion fell.

 

 

COUNTY AWARDS - JANUARY 2014

 

The President together with the Lord Lieutenant made the following awards:

 

THE COUNTESS OF SUFFOLK CUP – awarded for efficiency to the winner in the large branch category.

 

                        1st Place                     Calne                          50 points

                        2nd Place                     Trowbridge                47 points

3rd Place                      Warminster                45 points

 

THE STILLWELL CUP – awarded for efficiency to the winner in the small branch category.

 

            1st  Place         Shrewton                                                                    46 points

            2nd Place         Morgans Vale, Redlynch and Woodfalls                43 points

           

THE FOSTER-CURTIS CUP - awarded for efficiency in the Clubs category.        No Entry

        

THE HEAVYSIDE CUP – awarded for the highest percentage increase in membership during the year.  

                    

                                1st Place    Marlborough                                   22.92%                                         

                                2nd Place   Burbage & Easton Royal               16.89%                           

                                3rd Place    Wroughton & District                     16.67%

                                4th Place    Heddington & Stockley                   9.09%

 

THE COLONEL TEMPEST CUP – awarded for the highest percentage increase in poppy appeal collections over 3 years 2010/2011/2012.

 

1st Place          Susie Fitzgerald                     Horningsham                         + 33.74%

2nd  Place        Anthony Bolton                     Market Lavington                + 19.17%

3rd  Place         Cindy Nelson-Twiby             Salisbury                               + 16.07%                         

 

THE ANNUAL STANDARD BEARERS COMPETITION  

                                    1st Place          Ron Fraser                             Potterne
                                    2nd Place         Geoff Moore                          Trowbridge

                                    3rd Place          Ian Woodford       Wroughton and District

 

Youth Standard Bearer                    Andrew Webster

 

 

 

CATH NEWMAN-EYLES CUP           

Mr Andrew Webster

 

THE LORD LIEUTENANT’S CUP – awarded to the Cadet Detachment which collected the most for Poppy Appeal 2012/13.

 

                                    1st Place         2003 (Stratton) Squadron ATC

                                    2nd Place         Trowbridge Detachment Wiltshire ACF (Bugles Platoon)

3rd Place          1304 (Chippenham) Squadron ATC

4th Place          Chippenham Sea Cadets

5th Place          2189 (Calne) Squadron ATC

6th Place          Chippenham Detachment Wiltshire ACF

  

THE RAFFLE

 The Chairman thanked all those who had so generously donated Raffle prizes and Mr B Mitchell for running the Raffle. It had raised £366 and would be very helpful in offsetting the costs of Conference.  Prizes were handed out by the Cadets.

 

 

PRESIDENT’S CLOSING REMARKS

 In his closing remarks the President said it had been a successful Conference and he judged this by the level of participation from the floor. He thanked the speakers, the Mayor and Charles Byrne especially for his engagement with Conference and he thanked the Lord Lieutenant for making the time to remain with us for the whole afternoon session. He also thanked the Executive for laying on Conference. 

The President said that in his view Conference is very important because it gets us all together. However, he believes that there will always be tension between the top and bottom of the organization because the organization is trying to do two things and it is therefore dysfunctional.  At the top level there is the campaigning and fundraising and policy direction whereas at the lower level there is the membership which is trying to deliver against the 4 Pillars and also to fundraise. Given these conflicting roles he thought that we are all managing pretty well!  There is clearly a consultation/communication problem but it is a very big organization and clearly Head Office has a problem in communicating with the breadth of the organization It should be also be remembered that consultation is just that: it does not mean that Head Office has to comply with the views of the membership.  So, we should not be surprised by the tensions that exist because that is just the nature of the beast.

The President thought that we should not be too concerned with the public image of the Legion it has, after all, been around for 90 years.  There were 7 million who fought in the First World War and 4 million in the second so there are many people around today who had relatives who fought in these wars.  And the RBL has the Poppy Appeal and the Cenotaph Parade: no other charity has a state occasion linked to it.  We are really very lucky.

 There is confusion between the need to raise funds and to deliver against the 4 Pillars. We, in the field, should concern ourselves with the Poppy Appeal and not worry about other fundraising.  Head Office is best place to do this and to raise the extra millions that we need.

The President ended by focusing on the Director of Fundraising’s comments about commemorating the events of the Great War and the need for us in the field to have a sustainable, simple line to follow. Guidance is needed from Head Office and we need a helpline in Head Office to refer people to. 

The President finished by thanking everyone for a thoroughly worthwhile day.

VOTE OF THANKS

 

The Vice Chairman gave the vote of thanks to all those who had helped in organizing the day, and especially:

  • Mr Carl Buckingham and his team who are responsible for the administration of events in the Civic Centre. 
  • The Mayor of Trowbridge, Councillor David Halik, for welcoming us to his town and for being so supportive of the local Armed Forces both past and present.
  • The local Trowbridge Branch for all the support they have provided in assisting with the running of today and to our County Women’s Section for the assistance they have given us throughout the year.
  • Our guest speakers, the Director of Fundraising, Mr Charles Byrne, and the Lord Lieutenant for their informative and interesting talks.
  • Wiltshire Farm Foods and their representative here today, Mr Matt Fitt, whose generous sponsorship has enabled us to use the excellent facilities of this Civic Centre.
  • Trowbridge Town Council who kindly gave us a grant to offset the costs of today.
  • All who have been with us today, whether as guests, standard bearers, delegates, cadets or visitors for giving your time to support the County.

 

RE-ENTRY OF STANDARDS

 

The Standards entered and the President presented the County Standard to the County Standard Bearer, Mr R Fraser, and duly charged him with his duties.


NATIONAL ANTHEM

 

Conference remained standing for the singing of the National Anthem after which the Standards withdrew.

 

CLOSE OF CONFERENCE                      Conference was closed at 1611 hrs.