The Story behind the Foundation of the RGJRA Website
Webmaster's note: When I first prepared this page in 2008 I turned to Ken Ambrose the original Webmaster and asked him if he could provide me with a comprehensive history of how the first association website came into being.
In Ken's briefing he did not shy away from the truth of what had been at times a troubled past for us.
Read on to understand how we evolved from an association website into the Internet Branch and back again and how we are now being used once again exactly how Ken envisaged it 16 years ago.
A Brief History of the RGJRA Website 1997-2007
The idea of creating a central web site for the RGJ Association first came to me in the summer of 1996. At the time I was involved with the Association at branch level in Aylesbury and the initial thought was to create a site for the Aylesbury branch. However, as I had started to represent that branch at interim and annual meetings I first broached the subject of a possible Association web site at the 1996 June interim meeting held in Oxford. The suggestion was met with a certain amount of caution by both the Chairman, Brigadier Vere-Hayes, and those attending but I was asked to give a short presentation on the concept at the Annual meeting to be held at Winchester the following November.
The presentation went well and sufficient interest was created to allow the site to launch in May 1997. The initial launch contained 12 pages but within the year that had grown to over 200 and by the time another 12 months had passed to 600 pages. This made it necessary to form the Web Site Team.
In 1999, following much needed but failed attempts to assist in recruiting, and the introduction of the original Regimental Database it was decided that the site under the title of The Royal Green Jackets Association was getting to the point where its original purpose, that of providing a point of contact for all serving and ex-serving riflemen, was being lost by policies demanded at Regimental level and it was therefore decided that that we should step back from the politics of the Regiment and reassert our direction to that of supporting our members.
With much needed financial support from John Gard a new site was built and launched in 2000 under the title of `The Internet Branch`. This site continued to support The Regiment but had ceased to be dependent upon it financially. In recent times this lack of dependence has been relaxed slightly as far as the cost of maintenance and replacement of computer equipment for those working in the web site team. This cost has now been taken on by the Regimental Association and Trustees
Throughout its history the purpose of the site and the motives of those who run it have been repeatedly misunderstood on a wide front! This can only be due to a large extent to a complete misconception by those who are not aware of the Internets enormous capabilities and how these attributes can be used to maximum advantage. The site has, in the past, been starved of information and ignored or forgotten about when it was necessary to promote Regimental events and publications. In the past we have also been used as a scapegoat or excuse for poor judgements in regard to the handling of the passing of emotive information or even worse for people making themselves look good at our expense.
In the course of events we have been told that an online vote made by Internet Branch members is not acceptable because they are not fully fledged paid up members of the Association when at any one time 80% of Internet branch membership are also Association paid up members of normal branches including the individuals own branch, everyone one of which, we are told is a paid up member! We have also been told that it is possible to have too many recruiting pages! These remarks were made by highly respected and supposedly intelligent people from within the Regiment and Association.
I like to think that at last it is realised how much we can help in regard to the passage of information and that we have no other motive than to show the RGJ Regimental Association in its best possible light. I also hope that the days of mistrust and misunderstanding are now gone forever and that we can go forward as a vital part of the Regimental Association without the prejudice of the past.
It had been my intention to ask Ken to update this article to include the additional work that we, as a website team, now do for the association in time for it to be included in the new website to be launched this year however his sudden death in January means I can now never ask him but will instead fill in the details myself.
Ken's final paragraph is quite telling and I would like to think that everything he strived for has been achieved, there is now a far greater understanding at the very top of what the internet can achieve for the association and we are fully supported at both Managment Board and Association level. The mistrust Ken and I felt back a decade ago is long gone.
2007 - 2012
In the years 2007 to 2012 we expanded our interests from runnng one main website to building and running branch websites, organising a very succesful RGJ photographic website partly from contributions from other members but also in part from the extensive collection held by the late Bert Henshaw, taking on the new RGJ database built by Bill Shipton , the production of Swift & Bold and a quarterly E-Zine. Each of the team, now numbering 7, had their own role to play either heading up a particular section or as an assistant to Ken himself. Organistaion was vital and Ken was an organiser, he and I had regular weekly telephone conversations where new ideas were talked about. Ken spoke to the other team members the same way. One of the first advances in administration was to centralise all incoming emails so that each section head only received those that were relevant to him. I received website related emails, Mark Adams guest book/bulletin board emails and so on, Ken received and distributed these accordingly. The system worked and continues to work well although we now also have dedicated email addresses for both S&B and the E-Zine.
2013 - onwards
Ken's death has shocked us all but he leaves us in a good position, it is now up to us to carry-on his good work.