MINUTES OF THE AGM OF THE OXFORD BRANCH OF THE ROYAL GREEN JACKETS ASSOCIATION HELD AT 19.45HRS ON THURSDAY 29 NOVEMBER 2012 IN THE VOLUNTEERS BAR, EDWARD BROOKS BARRACKS, CHOLSWELL RD, SHIPPON, ABINGDON, OX13 6HW





Present

Maj Charlie Helmn – Chairman; Mr Phil Evans – Secretary; Mr Mike Marr – Treasurer; Members – 11.

Apologies

Apologies had been received from Neil Bartlett, Mike Carter, Bob Cherrill, Henry Harris, John Hudson, Sam Langford, Roger Mackriell, Denis Offord, John Stanton, Dave Thomas, Waine Wilkins & George Whitby.

Opening remarks

The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked them for making the effort to attend. He asked them all to invite others as support for events was vitally important.

Minutes of previous AGM

It was proposed by Les Whilde and seconded by Dennis Vokins that the minutes of the 2011 AGM be agreed without amendment. Carried by majority vote.

Matters arising

There were no matters arising.

Chairman’s report

The Chairman said that the trips to the Royal Hospital Chelsea and more recently to the Rifles Concert at the Royal Albert Hall had been a particular highlight for him during a successful year for the branch. At the RHC he had been shown the guide’s room which, although small, was clearly a home of which he was very proud. The RAH event had been such a success that the Rifles were likely to repeat it in 3-5 years time or to run some regional equivalents.

He thought the reunion had been the best he had ever attended in terms of atmosphere with the band on very good form.

He again asked members to encourage others to participate in events and to attend the Tuesday evening socials particularly on the first Tuesday of the month. He reminded them of the need to recruit younger members in order to keep the branch vibrant in years to come.

He thanked those from the branch who attended the repatriation events at the JR which included most of those present. He explained that he was currently CVO for the family of Lt Andrew Chesterman which had used up much of his time. Mr Chesterman senior had said how outstanding the support from the Rifles had been at every level.

Finally the Chairman conveyed his thanks to Mike Marr for his help in running the branch as it would not function without him.

Membership Secretary’s report

The Treasurer reported that there were currently 123 members compared with 122 at the time of the last AGM. The losses included the death of Bill Storer & recently Jeff Duncan, 2 resignations and 7 losses through non payment despite follow up letters. On the plus side there were 11 new members, plus 1 rejoiner. Member John Willoughby was currently in the Churchill Hospital with terminal cancer.

Once again on Remembrance Day Oxfordshire (The Rifles Battalion) ACF laid an Oxf & Bucks Lt Infantry wreath at the Rose Hill memorial on behalf of the Old Comrades.

At national level the RGJA had a new chairman Brig (Retd) Hugh Willing who had served as a regular officer in the RGJ.

Treasurer’s report

The Treasurer explained that his report was in two parts. Firstly he asked them to look at the audited accounts for 2011/12, the year end being 31st March 2012.

Specific points to note were:
• Income for the April 2011 lunch and May 2011 NMA trip mainly appeared in the previous years account. In similar vein advance payment for the April 2012 lunch and both 2012 trips appeared with no matching expenditure;
• We raised £764.08 for the Rifles C4C appeal although not all attributable to the branch itself.

It was proposed by Phil Spinner and seconded by Mick Salter that the audited accounts be accepted as presented, a majority of the members voted in favour.

Secondly he asked them to look at the current position compared with the same period last year. He explained that the branch was in a fairly secure position in terms of funds (approx £ 5.2k) currently but was showing a book loss on trading for the year (approx £3.2k) because most of the money for the first lunch had been received in the first quarter of 2012 as had the monies for the Royal Albert Hall trip but the related expenses were actually incurred in the current financial year. Also the subscriptions (approx £0.8k) due at the start of 2013 were not included at this stage.

If one looked at 2012 as a calendar year and took subs actually received from event subsidies/expenses this gave a loss of about £356.95. This was mainly due to the conscious decision to subsidise the Royal Albert Hall event by £5 per ticket plus a free coach as a thank you to regular supporters many of whom were also regulars at the repatriations. Lunches too were modestly subsidised.

Branch constitution

The Treasurer explained that in response to a recent enquiry from a member he had been unable to find a written Oxford branch constitution on file. Consequently he had drafted one based on the 2003 national rules which he had discussed with the President (Brig Mogg) and circulated to members with the agenda. After a brief discussion it was proposed by Roy Bailey and seconded by Dennis Vokins that the constitution be accepted as drafted. Members voted unanimously in favour.

The Chairman added that the constitution was a live document and that members could propose amendments at any meeting.

Election of officers

The Chairman asked if there were any nominations for the officer posts from the floor. In the absence of any he said that he was prepared to stand again. The Secretary, Treasurer and Mr Offord (representing the Oxf & Bucks Old Comrades) had also all stated their willingness to be re-appointed. It was proposed by Pete Bettles and seconded by Ivan March that they be re-elected en-bloc. The meeting voted them in for a further term.

The Treasurer reminded them that the new constitution required 2 additional committee posts to be filled, although one could be the newsletter editor. There were no nominations from the floor.

Newsletter Editor

The Treasurer advised them that Roy Bailey had volunteered to act as newsletter editor. He proposed that Roy be accepted for this role seconded by Geoff Day. Members unanimously voted in favour.

Programme of events

The Treasurer reported on the 2012 programme:

38 members and their partners enjoyed the first of our lunches at EBB on April 12th with a talk by Lt Col (Retd) Ingram Murray on the gliderborne operations in WW2 who also brought a very impressive pictorial display for members to look at afterwards;

There was a coach trip to the Royal Chelsea Hospital on May 10th. We were split into two groups and given a very interesting tour. Members had been impressed not only by the quality of the surroundings but also by the quality of the in-pensioners lunch menu in the Great Hall. He wished to formally thank Beryl & Colin Blackburn for organising a raffle on the coach which made £80 and meant a profit of £54 overall;

The Band Concert was held on Sunday June 10th at Edward Brooks Barracks, Abingdon courtesy of the Waterloo Band who played indoors again as that had proved so successful the previous year;

A second branch lunch at EBB on September 12th attended by 34 members and their wives/partners. WO2 Roger Betts regaled us with one or two stories of the Waterloo Band interleaved with a bit of verse;

The branch had supported the Rifles Musical Extravaganza at the Royal Albert Hall on the evening of Thursday 18 October. Some 37 members and friends enjoyed an excellent programme of music involving all 3 Rifles bands and about 80 buglers drawn from across the regiment including the Durham and Somerset ACF’s. The evening had been recorded and members would be advised when the CD was made available for sale (after Christmas). He formally thanked Brian Fletcher for his help in arranging the transport for this and the Chelsea trip with Barnes Coaches at Swindon;

A very sociable reunion had taken place on the evening of November 10th when about 100 Oxf & Bucks and RGJ old comrades came together some bringing photographs from the 1950’s, which prompted much discussion amongst their peers. It was nice to see one or two more officers attending and a number of soldiers from A Coy 7 Rifles. Again the Waterloo Band did us proud and Brig Robin Draper formally thanked Maj Peter Clark for their attendance.

Turning to 2013 he proposed that 2 lunches be held again, potential dates being Thursday 11April and Thursday 12 September. Jayne Tyers our chef had unfortunately been diagnosed with terminal cancer which was very sad given her age and the support she had given us. Members were asked to note that although discussions were on-going with another caterer there would inevitably have to be an increase in the cost of the lunches. Members acknowledged this and were happy with the proposed dates.

Regarding a day trip he proposed making a visit to the Assault Glider Trust at RAF Shawbury in Shropshire building on a conversation he had had with Godfrey Yardley an ex Oxf & Bucks veteran who had flown in Horsa gliders in WW2 who is involved with the AGT project. The AGT have nearly completed a replica Horsa Glider and have several other original aeroplanes in their care. Barnes had quoted £690 for a 49 seat coach and he proposed to invite the Friends of the Oxf & Bucks heritage group to take part although at a slightly higher fare than branch members. Members were in favour of this proposal.

As a final point he mentioned that only 1 member had taken him up on the offer of tickets for the Westminster Garden of Remembrance opening ceremony. Member John Stanton from Kent had once again been the representative at the Oxf & Bucks plot.

News from the Rifles

The Chairman told the meeting that all those who had deployed on Herrick 15 had now returned. 5 from A Coy had participated in the Olympics security arrangements and 4 would be deploying on Herrick 18. For the 2012 camp some had gone to Cyprus for two weeks adventure training and the remainder to Scotland. For the 2013 camp it was planned that approx 120 from 7 Rifles would go to Denmark.

As part of the future manning plans the increase in recruitment activity into the Reserves, as the TA had been rebranded, had resulted in 15 recruits due to go to Catterick shortly with a further 19 following on which would have a significant positive effect on company manpower.

There was a new scheme to offer Regulars prepared to transfer into the TA on leaving a golden handshake of 10-15k and retention of rank. In response to a question he added that there would be additional NCO posts as a result of expanding the reserves so career progression for reservists would not be adversely affected.

The Lightbobs Googlegroup

Roy Bailey reported that the group had been in existence for almost two years and that there were currently 95 members drawn from the branch, officers club and individuals who served with the Oxf & Bucks or RGJ. He was thanked for his efforts in drawing these disparate groups with a common regimental heritage closer together. In response to a point from the Secretary that Google were currently under investigation in respect of how they treated their clients and their information Roy responded that he had considered a change to Yahoo Groups but had deferred this as he was concerned that he would lose a large number of group members due to their limited computer skills.

Any other business

National Arboretum Square of Remembrance

At the last AGM the Treasurer had told members that as part of their £8m appeal to fund improvements the NMA were asking groups to sponsor paviours for Heroes Square at the heart of the Arboretum. The slabs are 600x900x50mm and would be engraved with a regimental badge and the name of the regiment concerned in return for sponsorship of £3k. Members had supported an in principle proposal to sponsor a slab from a mix of branch (£1000), residual 43rd & 52nd Old Comrades Association funds (£500) and the Oxf & Bucks residual committee funds (£1500+). Things had gone quiet and he had contacted the NMA who were going to come back to him once they were ready to relaunch the project appeal. However he had talked at length again with Lt Col (Retd) George Elliott Chairman of the Oxf & Bucks Residual Committee who informed him that they had withdrawn their support for the project as they felt that the Oxf & Bucks were commemorated elsewhere within the NMA and that there were other more important calls on their limited funds not least the future museum at Woodstock. Given this the Treasurer said that in his view it would be financially imprudent for the branch to go it alone as it would seriously weaken their financial position and the money would be better spent supporting activities for the membership. However, the NMA were going to come back to him with final details/pricing in due course and he would keep them informed. Dennis Vokins said that it was disappointing that a decision appeared to hinge on finance alone.

Oxford Branch website hosted by RGJRA site

The webmaster (Kevin Stevens) in his report to the 16 November main RGJA meeting stated that the Oxford branch website remained closed until someone within the branch took on the responsibility of furnishing him with up to date content. From 2012 branches had been charged the modest costs involved in hosting a site, approx £8 pa.

Roy Bailey responded that he was in touch with Kevin Stevens and was discussing ways to re-activate the branch site.

Meetings at Falklands House

The Treasurer explained that Geoff Day had asked him whether the branch should arrange a social at Falklands House. Although as a branch he felt we should support A Coy 7 Rifles at EBB as they supported the branch by making their facilities available to us at no charge. The Secretary added that this was essential if a bar with draught beer was to be maintained.

The Chairman said that if the members wished to hold a meeting there he was prepared to support it and it might be a recruitment opportunity for the branch. Members did not express a wish to pursue this idea.

Roll of Honour Books

The Treasurer advised them that funding had been obtained to digitise the KRRC/RB Rolls of Honour and these would be made available via touch screen computers in Winchester Cathedral. This was not currently an aspiration for the Oxf & Bucks/QOOH books in Christ Church. However, as County Secretary for the Rifles he would be talking to ORAC and the cathedral authorities about the inclusion of more recent casualties where they had a local connection.

Anniversaries

The Treasurer stated that at the recent national meeting the issue of forthcoming anniversaries had been discussed. Regimentally there were no specific proposals related to WW1 as they expected to fit in with national events. However, it would be the 50th anniversary of the formation of the RGJ in 2016 and the branch had been asked to comment on the holding of a specific event (service/social) at the RGJ memorial or the beefing up of the Winchester reunion. Members did not have a particular view on these proposals or any alternative suggestions.

RGJ Memorial Benches at Peninsula Barracks, Winchester

The Treasurer explained that the RGJRA (ie RGJ Residual Affairs C’tee) had agreed in principle to the placing of two privately funded commemorative benches outside the RGJ Museum at Winchester. Branches had been asked to express a view including on the detail in the designs prior to the next RGJA meeting in April. Copies of the drawings would be put out at the end of the meeting and all were asked to feedback to him. It was accepted that the soldiers pictured on the one bench were too recent but this had been done by the designers to meet the earlier Winchester meeting deadline. No feedback was received.

Use of Edward Brooks Barracks

The Chairman reminded members that they could hire the mess facilities at very modest preferential rates for personal functions.

The Veterans Charity

Roy Bailey mentioned the work of the Veterans Charity which had developed from the original sponsored marathon run from Tarrant Rushton to Pegasus Bridge. Regular collections were organised by Maj (Retd) Mike Massy-Beresford at London stations etc and he was always looking for more collectors. Members were asked to help if they could.

Real Ale in the Volunteers Bar

Roy Bailey asked if it was possible to stock cask beer for special events from a small local brewery such as Loose Cannon in Abingdon. The Chairman responded that they needed to cater for the mass market. The Secretary added that turnover was such that any further erosion of profit could not be countenanced. The Chairman said that, if anything, bottles could possibly be stocked but that regular demand would be needed to justify holding such stock. He would consider this.

Date of next meeting

It was agreed that the 2013 AGM would be held at 19.45hrs on Thurs 28 November 2013 in the Volunteers Bar at Edward Brooks Barracks.