Royal Marines Association North Devon

ONCE A MARINE ALWAYS A MARINE

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Articles are in month order starting with January.  Scroll down to find a particular month's report.

Articles published so far

January

February/March

April

May

June to August

September/October

November/December 

 

January 2015 

We had our frist branch meeting of the year at the WO&SNCO's Mess.  A smallish group enjoyed "Pussers Scran" and then we had branch business and a social drink in the bar.  For 5 days in January we had our buckets out in Green Lanes.  As January was a quiet month we had a slight twist to the collection this year.  Mr Chair took his exercise bike into the shopping centre and Wilko's and BHS staff raced each other while branch members held the buckets.  Wilko's were first up with 2.5 days (12 hours) of continuos cycling to rack up as many miles as possible.  The the bike was moved to BHS who did a similar thing (without any knowledge of the total distance Wilko's had travelled - of course).  Between the 2 stores they covered over 900 kilometres and both teams were hugely enthusiastic.  The net result of their efforts was £1659 towards our Christmas Appeal.  

I can now report along with emptying a number of tins around North Devon we raised £8475 which will be shared between the RMA (£5275), BLESMA (£800), RMB Chivenor Welfare (£1600) and the RNBT (£800).  I will report on February's branch night, the visit of the Deputy Commandant General RM, Joiners and Leavers in the Mess and the inaugural lunch for some of our more senior members next bulletin.

February and March 2015

In February 27 members enjoyed a similar format but with a guest speaker.  Bruce White, our new Support Officer, gave an in depth and intriguing talk on List X and national Security; this being the area Bruce went into after leaving the Corps.  It was of huge interest to hear about the various establishments who carry out development work for the military and how National security can be breached if we are not careful. Combining “PowerPoint” with his dits made for an enjoyable night.  I was tempted to say “Death by PowerPoint” but this was far from that and captivated our attention throughout.  Our thanks to Bruce. We also had a talk from new member Bertie Sambrook.  Around the 1990’s he took a group of disabled people on a 350 mile paddle down the Copper Mine River in the Arctic Circle and gave us an inspirational talk on their adventures.  

In February we were also honoured to have the RMA Ops Manager, Richie, pop in on us and I know he had an enjoyable evening.  During our business meeting Richie enlightened us on developments at Central Office and key bulletins from the Repnet.  It is always good to have someone come along from Central Office and our thanks to Richie.  The monthly raffles during this period raised around £110 or branch funds.  Well done the Rafflettes.

On the 17th February the branch was invited to meet the DCGRM, Brigadier Spencer as he was visiting CLR to deliver his Road Show. So 25 members mustered at the Camp church where we were entertained by the CO, Col Baxendale, Corps RSM, WO1 Phil Gilby and new Unit RSM, WO1 Rick Angove and Jonathon Ball, Chief Executive of the RMCTF.  The CO welcomed the branch and following a “PR” cheque presentation to the Brigadier, he and RSM Gilby gave an overview on the health of the Corps and the way ahead.  Then the branch members were invited to fire some questions at the esteemed group.  A lively conversation ensued and I have to say there was nothing very controversial.  In fact the Brigadier commented later that he thought he had got off lightly. 

Members of the branch attended the first Joiners and Leavers of the year under the new RSM.  As usual all those who attended enjoyed a lively evening of frivolity.  Branch members won a couple of joints of meat on the meat draw.  to add text, images, and other content.  In March we were invited to RHS Rosemoor with our stand to take part in their Survivalist Weekend.  As we now have a survival expert in our ranks, Roli Jones, we were well placed to put on a good show.  The chairman set up in the general marque along with other exhibitors and a mannequin dressed in a Gilly Suit while Roli and a colleague from the Devon Army Cadets set up in the woods with a 12' x 24' tent, all Roli's field cooking kit and many items of military equipment.  We proved to be a huge attraction to the public who enjoyed sampling "Pussers" ration packs, nettles, wild garlic, meli-worms - just to name a few of the delicacies Roli had to offer.  A good weekend withe £65 donated to RM Charities.

April

The first duty during this month was to attend the funeral of Lt Col Simon Guyer Retd.  Simon came onto the branch radar through a member of the Royal British Legion, Appledore.  As a result we cast our support net to introduce the branch.  Simon, at the time, was in recovery from treatment for cancer.  He also was in post at 11ATT, Instow as a Civil Servant. Simon duly joined the RMA and branch.  However, sadly his cancer returned and was never able to attend (although had had every intention of taking an active role.  The standard paraded at the church in Chittlehampton and there was an excellent turnout of serving and former Royal Marines.

On the 17th 4 branch members journeyed to London  to attend the final night of the Mountbatten Festival of Music at the Royal Albert Hall.  Meeting up with the Mitchells who had completed their "Gap Year" in the US and had returned to Ipswich we enjoyed an outstanding evening of entertainment.  For those who haven't attended this event before it is well worth the effort (at least once).  I believe the members who attended are considering going again next year.  One error of judgement was not paying the congestion charge and trying to skirt the city centre on a Friday - a big mistake! After 3 hours and a financial saving of only £11 a decision to find lodgings west of the city next year were announced. 

Due to Unit leave at CLR the Sgt Mess was unavailable for our normal branch night.  So this was postponed to the  24th.  This was our AGM night as well.  A good turnout enjoyed fish and chips prior to the meeting.  The branch year was summarised by the Chairman and the outstanding note was that the branch had raised around £21,000 for Corps charities.  This was a surprise as normal annual returns are in the region of £15/16,000.  However, the addition fund raising for the 1664 Challenge accounted for this magnificent sum of money.  The committee all stood again and were unopposed.  We have, however, gained a new committee member - Lyndsey Burton-Chambers and we welcome her to our team.

Coming up in May is the annual Graspan Parade, the Ajax Parade at Commando Logistic Regiment here in North Devon and out Branch Annual Regimental Dinner.  All will be reported on next month.

May

A number of members attended May's Joiners and Leavers at CLR where as is now usual we won a few of the prizes at the meat draw.

Sunday the 17th 10 members attended the annual Graspan Parade in London.  A glorious day, weatherwise saw the standard parading with 25+ other branch standards and a number of the branch marching.  The ladies took part form the spectators area.  Following the Service of Rememberance the parade set off down the mall and a loop back to Horseguards where the Commandant General took the salute. It was then off to the Union Jack Club for refreshments.  An excellent venue, close to Horse Guards where old opos swaped "dits".  The group were also introduced to the CG andour old friend the Corps RSM and Mrs RSM Anita as well as RSM Bruce Riach.  All in all a great day.

Back in North Devon the President, Chairman, Vice Chairman and 3 members attended the Ajax Bay Regimental Dinner at the WO’s and SNCO’s Mess at Commando Logistics.  This was a joint Mess evening and was attended by the Brigade Commander, Brigadier Stickland OBE and Brigade RSM, WO1 RSM Tomlinson CGC MC RM.  Two of the branch members, Dave “Polly” Perkins and Rob “TC” Davison served with Logs during the Falklands War and were at Ajax Bay.  The evening went off very well with considerable amounts of liquid refreshment being consumed.  Our thanks for the privilege of being able to attend this Regimental Memorable date Dinner.

A small group of die-hards attended Joiners and Leavers in May and some came away with their roast for Sunday dinner.  Similarly members enjoyed June’s Joiners and Leavers and were looked after very well by Mess Members in the Warrant Officers and Senior NCOs Mess at RMB Chivenor.

The branch held it’s annual Regimental dinner with a gathering of 73 members and guests enjoying a mix of the formal and not so formal.  WO2 Mike “Scouse” Wilton and Sodexo Mess Manager Kirsty Fernerhough ensured the evening went smoothly and kept the Chairman on track.  Mess beatings was carried out by the Bideford Youth Pipe Band again and as usual they did the branch proud.  The Top Table was piped in and a lament to Absent Friends was played by Mike Harper, a very good friend of the branch.  Our formal guests included the CO of CLR Lt Col Bob Baxendale and is wife Lu, RMA PDO Lt Col Charlie Wilson Rtd and his wife Marianne, OC 11ATT, Instow Major Mark Woosey and wife Rachel and WO1 RSM Rick Angove, RSM at CLR.  They all received presentations from the branch and Charlie was Quaiched as well.  The branch raffle raised £680.00 for branch funds and our sincere thanks to Mrs Treasurer, Fran Rivenberg and Mrs Chair, Jacky Peel for another outstanding effort.  The assembled group listen to very informative address by Charlie Wilson and not so gripping address by the Chairman.  Following formalities guest rolled back the years and enjoyed a disco and late bar.  Our thanks to the RSM, PMC and Mess committee for allowing the branch to use this fine Mess for our formal dinner again.

June

The branch held it’s annual Regimental dinner with a gathering of 73 members and guests enjoying a mix of the formal and not so formal.  WO2 Mike “Scouse” Wilton and Sodexo Mess Manager Kirsty Fernerhough ensured the evening went smoothly and kept the Chairman on track.  Mess beatings was carried out by the Bideford Youth Pipe Band again and as usual they did the branch proud.  The Top Table was piped in and a lament to Absent Friends was played by Mike Harper, a very good friend of the branch.  Our formal guests included the CO of CLR Lt Col Bob Baxendale and is wife Lu, RMA PDO Lt Col Charlie Wilson Rtd and his wife Marianne, OC 11ATT, Instow Major Mark Woosey and wife Rachel and WO1 RSM Rick Angove, RSM at CLR.  They all received presentations from the branch and Charlie was Quaiched as well.  The branch raffle raised £680.00 for branch funds and our sincere thanks to Mrs Treasurer, Fran Rivenberg and Mrs Chair, Jacky Peel for another outstanding effort.  The assembled group listen to very informative address by Charlie Wilson and not so gripping address by the Chairman.  Following formalities guest rolled back the years and enjoyed a disco and late bar.  Our thanks to the RSM, PMC and Mess committee for allowing the branch to use this fine Mess for our formal dinner again.

Approx 22 ranks attended a visit to 11ATT Instow including our President, Mr Derek Sargent and our resident D-Day Veteran Cliff Coates, who was also accompanied by his wife Evelyn – good to see her out and about. After a comprehensive safety brief and introduction by CSgt Paul “Spudly” Taylor RM, they were ushered outside to have a look at the many static displays which included the Offshore Raiding Craft (ORC), Viking and Jackal vehicles. Lunch followed and then the group were taken to watch a Waterproofed LandRover drive through a dip-tank filled with water at a depth of 1.5m. A number of our contingent were then “invited” to accompany the driver through the tank – after donning a special suit – to which several eagerly agreed. Well done to Bob Ferguson, Anne Stanley, Mandy Berryman and Dave Rowlands. However they may have contributed to the vehicle stalling  which then had to be recovered – or was this a deliberate addition to the display. Huge thanks to Maj Mark Woosey RM (OC 11 ATT), WO2 Tommo Thomas RM (SSM) and of course, CSgt Spud Taylor RM – your lads did you proud.  The feedback below from the Squadron demonstrates that the serving Corps continues to enjoys the contact with the “Old and Bold” here in North Devon. 

Major Mark Woosey, OC 11ATT Squadron - “It really is our pleasure.  I hope to be Clifford one day and hope that people will listen to my dits”.  Mark, be careful what you wish for!  WO2 Tommo Thomas Royal Marines, 11 ATT Squadron Sergeant Major - “Please pass on to the RMA we also had a great day spinning dits and listening to some of the stories and how we are still dealing with the same challenges today but with newer kit. The young lads can learn a lot from listening to the old boys with their wealth of experience and utilize it in today’s world with modern kit.” -

June’s branch meeting went off well with a good attendance.  Following the usual light meal in the Mess and branch business, which I am sure was briefer as the branch Chairman was away on leave; the members listening to a hugely interesting talk about the Deal bombing given by Bruce White. Our thanks to Bruce.

Torridge District and Bideford Town Councils hosted Armed Forces Day Flag Raising in Bideford on 22nd June.  Along with other veterans groups, cadets, brownies and scouts the branch had around 12 parading along with the standard. 11 ATT Squadron were also in attendance.  A short march behind the Tarka Pipe band was followed by the flag breaking to the sound of the Dambusters March with words played and sung by the Bideford Town Band and male Voice Choir.  The padres from RMB Chivenor, Rev Janice Honey Morgan and Phil Waite conducted a short service with an interlude when the choir sang some old favourites White Cliffs of Dover, Pack Up your Troubles, It’s a long way to Tipperary and Jerusalem.  Cliff Coates recited those moving words from Binyons For the Fallen.  Following proceedings it was back to Bideford Rugby Club where the Council lashed everyone up.

Finally to complete Armed Forces Week the branch had their stand at the North Devon Vets Expo in Barnstaple.  With members of CLR, 11 ATT and Armoured Support Group also in attendance with some hardware for the school children and adults to take a look at Royal was well represented.  Branch member S/Sgt Roli Jones (North Devon Cadets) brought his survival stand to the show and treated everyone with sautéed worms and other wild life  – truly nourishing – the Chairman stuck to sandwiches!
July/August

 

First up in July the branch decamped to Sainsbury’s, Barnstaple for the annual Royal Marines Charity Appeal.  This year’s theme was “Commando Raids” and the display board covered 3 raids – The Cockleshell Hero’s, The Hero’s of Telemark and the Radfan Climb by 45 Commando.  These raids were chosen to match the equipment we had available that of one cross trainer, one concept rower and one gruesome step machine.  The RMA team elected to do the Escape and Evasion bit for all 3 and make like resistance workers on bikes, berets and strings of onions and had a Wattbike to pedal for the week.  With massive support from Commando Logistic Regiment and 11 ATT Squadron, Instow all machines were kept going for 12 hours a day (one day per Squadron), except Sunday when the store was only open for 6 hours.  The Officers Mess chose to cover that day – having had their Summer Ball the previous evening.  The RMA team manned the entire 84 hours on the bike, covering around 2500 km.  All spare hands held buckets out front.  By the end of the week we had  skied, paddled and climbed huge distance but in doing so had raised a massive £9480.78 for the RMCTF.  Thanks must go to CLR, 11ATT, Sainsbury’s and the North Devon public without whom this would not have been so successful. 

4 day’s later the branch was at it again.  This time we got a small band of hardy soles to move to Minehead to meet former RM, Taff Davies, who was walking John O’Groats to Lands End.  It was our intention to accompany Taff on his journey through Devon, around 120 miles.  I know we actually trespassed into Taunton Branch’s territory but then geography was never my strong point!  For the next 9 days members of the branch along with members of Logs Regiment walked with Taff on the rollercoaster that is the Southwest Coastal Path.  As Taff had been roughing it on route as well as some B&B’s and Youth Hostels (Taff is 63yrs!) we decided to arrange more luxurious accommodation for him while he was with us  – free hotels, The Mess at CLR and members spare pits.  We also arranged street collections, “Meet and Greets” by local town Mayors, a Town Crier in Ilfarcombe and even a piper for a couple of days to lead the group through the major towns in North Devon.  We had the company of the Corps RSM, WO1 RSM Gilby on one day.  Yet again our serving colleagues from Commando Logistic Regiment supported the event with their usual enthusiasm not only providing personnel, daily transport to ferry the teams to that days start point and picking up at the days finish point but pussers “bag rats” for lunchtime scran.  I don’t want to see another cheese and tomato roll for a while and where were the boiled eggs?! To round off Taff’s journey a group of us travelled to Lands End 8 days later and walked back to Sennen Cove with 2 pipers and met not only Taff but Pete Clark and Van Landewyck from CLR and Mr Gilby again, walking the last mile into Lands End behind the “Pipes”. All in all a hugely enjoyable and successful event and again without the support of the unit we would have struggled to lay on that sort of support.  On route we carried buckets and by close of play at Lands End had raised an addition £2148.89 for the RMCTF, one of Taff’s chosen charities.

What else has the branch been upto?  A group attended the Warrant Officer’s and SNCO’s Summer Ball with a Murder Mystery theme – I still have no idea whodoneit!  The last Joiners and Leavers of the summer was a revelation with our very own 2I/C, WO2 Colin Shearsby being bid a temporary farewell as he is off to Whale Island for 6 months. The RSM eluded to Colin being the oldest member of the Corps , having served at Trafalgar.  So it wasn’t surprising that he made a grand entrance into the Mess on a motorised scooter and was presented with a “Daff” customised zimmer frame as a leaving present. I am sure you can read more in the “Around the Messes” section of this journal.  I am pleased to say Colin is remaining branch 2I/C as he will be commuting back from Pompey each week.

We have held two branch meetings this period.  We had our annual BBQ, this time at the Hoof Inn, which currently serves as CLR’s Corporals Club.  Our thanks to them for providing it for the evening.  Guest of honour was Taff and we donated our raffle money to his walk.  In fact over the time Taff was with us on his walk we showed him grand hospitality each night dropping in to whichever local hostelry we could find - to rehydrate, you understand.  Taff said he hadn’t had so much to drink for a long time!  The August branch meeting was held at a different venue – Bideford Rugby Club as the Mess was closed for Summer Leave.  This is where the local RNA used to meet and I am pleased to report that a number of them who are also branch members came out to play.  I think putting in the minutes that their favourite barmaid from those days, Enid, would be serving encouraged them out.

A group of us with the branch standard attended the rededication of the grave of WW1 L/Cpl William Whitmore RMLI.  An account of this remarkable story can be found in this month’s RMA Magazine.  However, briefly, his ship SS Anna Sofie – an Armed Merchantman, was torpedoed and L/Cpl Whitmore’s body was washed up near Padstow.  Not being identified he was buried in Padstow Cemetery in an unmarked grave. In 2012 during research of unmarked graves William’s grave attracted attention and eventually it was proved beyond doubt who it was that was buried there.  A good turnout by the RMA with the National Standard and branch standards from North Devon and Plymouth along with British Legion standards, RBL members, cadets and relatives  honoured L/Cpl Whitemore’s life.

The standard was on parade at Bideford's VJ Day - a small dedication and marhc passed in Bideford Town laid on by the RBL.

 

What else has the branch been upto?  A group attended the Warrant Officer’s and SNCO’s Summer Ball with a Murder Mystery theme – I still have no idea whodoneit!  The last Joiners and Leavers of the summer was a revelation with our very own 2I/C, WO2 Colin Shearsby being bid a temporary farewell as he is off to Whale Island for 6 months. The RSM eluded to Colin being the oldest member of the Corps , having served at Trafalgar.  So it wasn’t surprising that he made a grand entrance into the Mess on a motorised scooter and was presented with a “Daff” customised zimmer frame as a leaving present. I am sure you can read more in the “Around the Messes” section of this journal.  I am pleased to say Colin is remaining branch 2I/C as he will be commuting back from Pompey each week. 

 

September/October

The Chairman and Edd “Bertie” Sambrook, an Army Commando and branch member are currently in training to carry out a bit of a physical challenge in September – kayaking 8/9 miles along the North Devon Coastline; landing on a rocky outcrop and scaling 110ft cliff and then speed marching back to RMB Chivenor – another 8 or 9 miles. The chairman hasn’t paddled a kayak for over 40 years let alone climb anything greater than his stairs.  As for the term “Speed March”, I think this is being used loosely and as long as one foot in front of the other is achieved that box will be ticked!  There is a “Just Giving” website – Edd Sambrook – Classic Commando Challenge and money is being raised for BLESMA and the RMA. If you would like visit the website and make a donation we would be very grateful.  The success of this venture will be reported in next issue of the G&L.

Sadly I have to report the sad passing of 2 former RM’s and 1 former RNR.  Mike Comer (RNR), a great supporter of the branch, particularly fund raising, died suddenly this October.  Also crossing the bar was George Dellar on the 19th October.  George was a loyal member and standard-bearer for the branch for many years.  He also won the national standard bearers contest many times. Also crossing the bar was WW2 veteran RM Francis Davison.  Our thoughts are with the families at this sad time.

September 10th saw two hardy souls, some would say foolish, launch a klepper canoe from the Watersports Centre at RMB Chivenor at the start of their Classic Commando Challenge.  Edd “Bertie” Sambrook ‘s idea was to attack North Devon – Commando Style!  So recruiting a willing volunteer – did I say “Willing” - the Chairman, John Peel (yes it is me writing this dit) we paddle 8/9 miles to Baggy Point, a 110ft rocky outcrop here on the rugged, windswept North Devon Coast, climb the cliff face and then speed march 8/9 miles back to RMB Chivenor. We enlisted the support of serving ranks at Commando Logistic Regiment and 11 ATT Squadron (who provided the safety boat).  My thanks to Cpl Ads Lison (PTI) and Sgt Rich Bateman (ML) from CLR and C/Sgt Spud Taylor from 11ATT for their help in get this organised.  We were accompanied on the paddle by 5 kayaks and Ads on his paddleboard (not very commando). With fair weather we set off at 0615 from Chivenor and the “Old and Bold”, setting a brisk pace, soon found themselves leading the flotilla. A rather wet landing at Baggy Point was followed by the climb which went without a hitch (excuse the pun) and we were met at the “summit” by branch stalwarts Fran Rivenberg, Jacky Peel and Bob Ferguson who between them had carried bacon rolls and wets to greet us.  After a stand easy we set off on the “yomp” across Braunton Burrows back to RMB Chivenor.  A successful mission has raised around £780 so far to be shared between the RMA and BLESMA.

Two more outings occurred in September – The Yomp and the Barnstaple Marathon.  8 members travelled to Bickleigh for Yorkie’s annual fund raising evolution.  Tom and Fran Rivenberg were I/C the raffle as usual. The rest of us ventured onto the moor.  The second outing was the Barnstaple Marathon. Branch members and serving personnel from Commando Logisitc Regiment provided marshals for the second running of this event.  The lads pointed runners in the right direction, hopefully, while the ladies made a pleasant addition to the water station on the airfield at Chivenor.  The branch stall was part of the “village” at the start/finish area.

About 20 members descended on Lympstone for the annual Reunion.  Our shooting and quiz teams did very well but obviously not as well as hoped, coming second by the narrowest of margins to Exeter in both competitions.  Unfortunately there was no individual shooting competition this year as we are sure Annita Marshall would have won the ladies as she only had one hole, demolishing the centre of her target with every round.   As usual the ladies helped to entertain the recruits and YO’s during the evenings buffet dance. 

 October 3rd British Home Stores held a “Bake Off” in Green Lanes Shopping Centre, Barnstaple, in aid of RM Charities.  Branch members supported the event and we provided 2 Navy Chefs from CLR and committee members, Sue Shearsby and Fran Rivenberg (no arm twisting needed) as judges. The Bake Off raised £157 through entry fees and sales and there were also donations made which will go forward to our annual Christmas Appeal for RM Charities.  Our sincere thanks to British Home Stores and everyone who entered the competition.

The Branch has launched a pioneering scheme that gives members discounts on a range of everyday goods and services from local shops and businesses. Under the scheme, members receive money off at almost 40 participating outlets in Barnstaple, Bideford and Braunton, simply by showing their RMA membership card. The businesses involved range from pubs, restaurants, butchers and florists to pet shops, hairdressers, bicycle repairs, opticians – even solicitors.  This scheme is exclusive to North Devon and the RMA and is not linked to any other national military discount scheme. Its real beauty is that it requires only an RMA card, not a military ID card, so partners and families of serving personnel can benefit from it, too. The Branch estimates that members could potentially make savings that more than cover their annual RMA membership fee – a real win-win.  The idea was sparked by the Commandant General’s ‘Harnessing the Corps Family’ strategy, and the RMA’s drive to increase membership, particularly among serving Royal Marines and their families. It’s been implemented through a collaboration between Lt Col Bob Baxendale, CO of Commando Logistic Regiment (CLR), and John Peel, Chairman of the North Devon Branch, with invaluable assistance from S/Sgt Lisa Thompson, a volunteer from CLR.  to add text, images, and other content

November/December

25 attended November’s branch meeting with  £72 was taken on the raffle (£50 being recycled as prizes for the bingo.  It was good to see the Gingells and Mitchell’s who were over for the weekend from Bournemouth and Ipswich.  We also welcomed Ex RN Bob Winslow who has moved to North Devon to retire and is has joined the branch.  Bob gave us a pocket history of his service man and boy in the dark blues.  Welcome Bob.

On the 18th November 18 members and friends from the branch attended the Remembrance Parade at the Memorial Garden, RMB Chivenor, where our standard was on parade and our President, Derek Sargent, laid a wreath on behalf of the branch. 12 of us stayed on for an excellent carvery and couple of games of bingo and a raffle in the Senior’s Mess. We also had representatives laying wreaths in Barnstaple (John Davis), Bideford (C/Sgt Spud Taylor), Torrington (Rodney Oke) and Marwood (Bruce White).   Tom and Fran Rivenberg attended the Cenotaph with BLESMA and the Fergusson’s were in Malta. One of our overseas members, Denis Hannan, who lives in Spain, attended the ceremony in Gibraltar as he does every year.  My thanks to you all. 

 

We now have 3 branch members who have received their Legion d’Honneur.   Congratulations to Clifford Coates, Len Husband and Alan Litchfield.  When others have received theirs we will be arrange a formal presentation with the French Ambassadors UK Representative.

As we have done for as long as I can remember branch members turned to during a warm but wet December to carry our annual Christmas Appeal.  We spent 11 days between Tesco’s - Ilfracombe and Braunton, Morrison’s – Bideford and Barnstaple Pannier Market and High Street with the branch stand.  We had massive support from the serving Corps - Commando Logistic Regiment again and my thanks to the CO, RSM and Squadron Sergeant Majors for making this happen.  A special thanks must go to the lads for their enthusiasm and support.  They carried out this evolution with the usual “can do” attitude and expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to help with Corps Charities and interact with the public.  Over the 11 days we collected over £6280.  This will be added to £1000 on hold in our Charity account and pub collection tins.  It is expected the end figure will be in the region of £7500, which will be sent to Central Office with a request for it to be split between the RMA 60%, BLESMA 10%, RNBT 10% and Commando Logs Welfare Fund 20%.  My thanks to those faithful branch members who continue to support the North Devon RMA so well and be the face of the Corps Family.

The final act of 2015 was the annual branch get together in the Officers Mess at RMB Chivenor for our Christmas Party.  54 members and guests sat down to a 3 course carvery of traditional Christmas fayre along with warm mulled wine and a few party games.  My thanks to Fran Rivenberg for providing the gifts on the table, and along with Jacky Peel the high quality 25 raffle prizes which helped raise over £500 for branch funds.  Thanks also to our President, Derek Sargent, for setting another challenging President’s Picture Quiz and prize of, I think, a bottle of very good quality Vodka.  As this was a carvery and we have some older members who may have needed assistance we called upon Father C to loan us 2 Elves to help with the service in the guise of WO2 Colin Shearsby and his son Iain, suitably attired.  My thanks for their sterling effort, even though they served plates of food to members with appetites are no bigger than sparrows.  I understand they were heard to enquire whether they should eat or climb the mountain of food placed in front of them.  It was great to be able to thank special guest Tim Jordan – our benefactor from Wilkinson’s and wife Hilary and also have the company of the Corps RSM Phil, his boss Anita (long time friends of the branch), son Connor Gilby with his young lady Jess.  My thanks also go to WO2 Bob Davis (Mess Manager) and Debbie Davis (Sodexo Manager) who arranged for staff to attend to our every need and special thanks to Adam and his team of Sodexo Chefs who provided some magnificent scran.  The evening was rounded off in the bar with a few dits and games with background music provided by Iain Shearsby’s laptop.  A superb evening and end to another successful year in North Devon.  Final thanks must go to the CO and 2I/C for allowing the branch use of their Mess – something which we are privileged to do every year.