Also in January long time branch member and one of the original RM’s who served in CLR, Finlay McCulloch was invited as a special guest to CLR’s 47th birthday celebrations in the Officers’ Mess at RMB Chivnor. He was surprised but pleased to be met by the CO, Lt Col Aldeiy Alderson RM and the 2I/C, Major Luke Davies RM before being escorted to dinner by Lt Henry McCready RM. It was a very enjoyable evening and Finlay was honoured to be wined and dined by the Officers and SNCO’s of the Regiment.
We held our Annual “Seniors” lunch in the Barnstaple Hotel. 30 guests enjoyed a 2 course roast dinner and great company. This event was established 5 years ago to host and stay in touch with members, including our widows, who could no longer get out for our evening branch meetings. Deputy Rafflette & Mrs Chair was on form and those gathered were not only generous with buying raffle tickets but also donating prizes. Everyone is looking forward to next year’s event.
For the last few years we have held a Mini Burns night in February and this year was no exception. Branch business was brought forward with the “Gathering” piped in to dine at 1900. The format of the evening was a Welcome and Selkirk Grace by the Chairman and although he had a Jock Mother it is thought that as he was speaking in a mild Manck accent it was his bottom half which was “Jock”. Following this the “Haggis” was piped in. For those not familiar with Burns suppers the Haggis then has to be ceremoniously “killed”. This year we had a “newbe” – Jimmy McHeadrick, reciting the Address to the Haggis. A fine Malt was provided as always by JC Bowden and we toasted the Haggis. Talking of fine malt it appears when Mr Headrick was getting instruction from Mr Fergusson at his home; the latter emphasised that for it to sound authentic they should consume vast quantities of the amber nectar. Needless to say neither remember much of the rehearsals. PAYD scran with a side order of Haggis (for those who wanted it) was followed by the Address to the Lassies complete with Toast by Col Sheasby in a genuine Scottish lilt, dessert and Reply from the Lassies with Toast given by Mrs Treash in her Cornish accent but should be said connected to “North of the Board” by husband and genuine “Sporran Swinger” Finlay McCulloch. The final toast of the evening was to the Bard himself, Rabbie Burns, which was scribed by another Jock- Bob Fergie – who was AWOL in Gozo. Now as a branch we don’t profess to be experts at Burns Suppers but we had a very enjoyable evening and did our bit for his Immortal Memory.
In March 28 members enjoyed the usual PAYD scran of fish, chips and peas followed by duff. We welcomed Matt Mason of Hunted fame, and Michele and Ed Gibbet (family of Neil Gibbet). After the chairman’s usual round of branch business we retreated to the Ajax Bay Bar for an informal talk by Matt on his experiences on Hunted followed by an outline of his planned epic for next year – rowing the Atlantic from New York to London – what is known as the Northern Route. It is planned to support Matt in some fund raising outings this year.
Our fund raising season started with a trip to Wilko’s Barnstaple for a days cycling on two static bikes. This is the third year we have done this, including a cycle challenge between BHS and Wilkos 3 years ago. A great day where we interacted with customers and staff, had staff support taking turns to pedal and great branch support. Not a huge event but very worthwhile. We covered 328 miles in 7 hours across the two bikes and collected £909.52. Wilko’s were really pleased to be able to have us in store and have asked us back again later in the year and again next year.