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As usual North Devon Branch has had a busy half year. With the 350th anniversary celebrations ongoing branch members continued to enjoy a few events such as the Corps Birthday dinner at the WO & SNCO’s Mess at Commando Logistics as well as the Corps Birthday celebrations at HMS Raleigh where the RM MTU hosted an excellent event in the Senior Rates Mess.
Back in North Devon we supported the inaugural Barnstaple Marathon. While the male membership provided marshalling around a baking airfield at RMB Chivenor, providing some choice advice and encouragement to the runners our ladies, visions of loveliness as they are, manned a water station. We have, again, been asked to support this year’s event.
Remembrance Week was busy for the branch. As usual the Chairman and President with their wives were guests at the North Devon Festival of Remembrance at the Queens Theatre in Barnstaple. The standard took part as did our colonial brother Bob “The Yank” Martin with the US Marine League standard. The main Remembrance Parade was held for the first time at the Memorial Garden at RMB Chivenor and the branch were well represent with RM and Navy Veterans and wives. Our President Derek Sargent laid a wreath on behalf of the branch and the standard was on parade. Besides Chivenor we had representatives laying wreaths at Torrington and Bideford and Tom and Fran Rivenberg attended the Cenotaph as part of the BLESMA contingent. Tom managed not to crash his motorised scooter – well done Tom.
Ann Stanley final managed to fall out of a plane at 10,000 feet on the 15th November. Quoting Ann –“The most terrifying thing I have ever done!” Well done Ann – you mad fool. Giving moral support, a work colleague Owen Spark, said he would do the jump with Ann. Between them they raised just over £1000 to be split between The RMA and The Not Forgotten Association. Well done to them.
Over the Christmas period we held our annual Appeal for the RMA and other RM Charities. The Team invaded Tesco’s Ilfracombe and Braunton and Morrison’s Bideford with our stand and buckets. We also had 4 days in Barnstaple in the Pannier Market and on the High Street. Our sincere thanks to the CO, Lt Col Bob Baxendale and WO1 RSM Marty Small for allowing the boys from Cdo Logs to turn to in support of our efforts. It is always great to have the “young” with the “Old and Bold” and it demonstrates the close ties we have with the Unit and Corps. As part of this years collection strategy we challenged British Home Stores and Wilko’s to race each other on static bikes. This raised £1659 towards our Appeal. I can report that the total raised during our Christmas Appeal was £8475:00. This money has been sent to Central Office and has been split between the RMA £5275:00, BLESMA £800:00, RNBT £800:00 and Commando Logistics Welfare Team £1600:00. Our grateful thanks to our friends at BHS and Wilko’s and the generosity of the North Devon public.
December is party time and along with members being invited to the Warrant Officers and Senior NCO’s Christmas bash we held our own party in the Officers Mess at RMB Chivenor by kind permission of the CO, 2 I/C and Mess members, where around 66 members and guest enjoyed a our tradition Christmas fare, a few wets (actually far to many wets) and party games c/o our President with his picture quiz, our Chairman with his Irish Bingo and Mr Vice with his bar games. Our rafflettes, Fran Rivenberg and Jacky Peel worked their magic (which most of us thinks is becoming something of a “Black Art”) and produced some outstanding prizes to be won. Branch members, friends and family, as usual, dipped deep into their pockets and we raised an incredible £591 for branch funds. Again this year Polly “Father Christmas” Perkins did his “Ho! HO! Ho!” thing for the Unit’s Children’s Christmas party and the branch contributed a cheque for £150 towards the children’s fun.
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.
On the 23rd February the branch hosted our more “senior” members to an inaugural lunch at the Barnstaple Hotel. The committee had decided as some of the original members of the branch deserved the recognition that they are still on the “books” and we hadn’t forgotten them, even though they aren’t able to get out as much as they used to. So our resident US Marine, Bob “On the Buses” Martin provided transport in the way of a community mini bus and transported our “Older and Bolder” to lunch. A good turnout of 28 enjoyed a two-course lunch of roast of the day and dessert. Mrs Chair, never wanting to miss an opportunity, ran a raffle, which raised £75.00.
Branch nights this period included various talks and a film show on North Devon life in the build up to D Day. WO2 Phil Slocombe gave a presentation on Combat Intelligence and how it has developed since he was a “Sprog”. He did treat us to a couple of photos of a more “Skin” looking Marine Slocombe. 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. 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. We continue to enjoy the hospitality of the Senior NCO’s Mess for our branch meetings and their monthly “Joiners and Leavers” and we much appreciate their support.
There are exciting times ahead here in North Devon with the recent formation of a sub committee made up of serving NCO’s from Commando Logistics Regiment. Although currently in it’s infancy it is the CO’s wish that through this we can build on what is already a great relationship between the branch and CLR and integrate our ideas for the good of RM Charities, the social side of the RMA/Corps and better “joined up” support for all those who remain in the North Devon area when their time in the serving Corps comes to an end. I see one immediate benefit that of formulating our annual calendar of events and activities. With unit representation these can be flagged up sooner and hopefully integrated better into the Unit Long Cast. Equally when the Unit need the support of the RMA we will have advanced notice rather than finding out at the last minute, with the challenge of mustering volunteers.
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