CHAIRMAN’S REPORT FOR 2017

We started the year holding our Branch meetings in the WO’s & Sgt’s Mess in Chilwell.  The welcome that we were receiving in the mess was not as good as it had been previously and we knew that Chetwynd Barracks would close in the near future.  Consequently, the Committee was investigating alternative venues for our meetings and had visited the Kingsway Reserve Centre, the base for 148 Coy REME.  The welcome we received was good and we decided to relocate.  It would mean that we would have to change our meetings to the first Wednesday of the month to fit in with 148.  We realised this would not suit everyone but, perhaps, it would be better for others who had not been able to go to Chilwell.

At the last AGM, we granted Brian Ireland and Tony Bethell Honorary Membership.

Our last formal meeting at Chilwell was held on 7th March 2017.  This was followed by an informal meeting at Kingsway on 8th March and the first “proper” meeting at Kingsway was in April.  The atmosphere is slightly more relaxed and informal.  The informal approach also continues with our monthly newsletter instead of minutes.  Over the year, we have established a good relationship with 148 Coy REME.

The numbers attending our monthly meetings have reduced slightly but that may be due to an aging membership as much as the change in venue.  We have offered to arrange lifts for those who do not like driving at night.

In February, Keith Woods paraded the standard at the funeral of a REME Veteran who had no family and lived in sheltered housing in Derby.  Shortly after that, Keith had a fall and further damaged his dicky ankle.  After a series of hospital visits and physio, he concluded that he would not be able to do the standard bearer’s duties any more.  We asked if anyone was prepared to take over from him but no volunteers have been forthcoming to date.  The standard is currently held by John, our President.

During the year, several of our own members have died:  Pat Ingle, widow of David, in February, Fred Cooper and Bob Seymour in April, Arthur Cundey in May, John Shardlow mid–year, Pete Radford in July and Arthur Clarke in October.  May they rest in peace.

Later in the year the solicitor representing the estate of Fred Cooper contacted us.  Fred had no family and had bequeathed £500 to the branch in his will.

We have welcomed two new members, both ex-wobblies:  Ross Tooley with his wife Jeannie and Tim Lewcock.

We still have several committee vacancies, particularly the secretary’s post.  Thanks are due to all who have contributed in some way to ensuring we maintained a full programme.  We have been involved in the following activities:

  • Our own social activities have included a Club Lunch, BBQ, Cheese & Wine Party, Lunch for Widows hosted by the Committee and their wives, the Annual Dinner, St Eligius Club Lunch for the Committee and the Christmas Party where we joined 148 Coy at Kingsway. All were successful.
  • Three members and their wives joined the Shropshire Branch for their dinner in 21st
  • We attended a REME Association Memorial Day on 19th May at the NMA
  • We had a stand in June at Armed Forces Day in Derby and raised funds for the Army Benevolent Fund.
  • Several members attended the REME Association Reunion Weekend at Swindon in June. This coincided with The REME 75 celebration at Lyneham and a few of us visited the open day, the parade and the new Museum.  Jim also attended the REME Association AGM (which was a non-event!)
  • The Branch was represented at Founder’s Day and the REME Regimental Sunday at the Royal Hospital Chelsea.
  • For our September meeting we supported 148 Coy REME in a ceremony when their members were presented with medals by the Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire. Afterwards we shared a curry and dessert with them.
  • A number of members turned out for a short service on Armistice Day at the REME Memorial in the NMA and Brian Ireland laid a wreath.
  • On Remembrance Sunday, members were at the parade in Derby where Dusty carried our standard and John laid a wreath on behalf of the Branch. Afterwards, we joined 148 Coy for an excellent curry lunch at Kingsway.  Derek Wheatland paraded with other veterans at the Cenotaph in London.

Lt Col John Hanson, the CO of 104 Bn REME, of which 148 Coy is a part, and REME In-Pensioner, Rick Graham, from the RHC, were our official guests for our formal Dinner at Welbeck Hall in West Bridgford.  Some members of the Shropshire Branch also joined us.  The food was good and we had musical accompaniment from the Derbyshire ACF Band.

One of our honorary members, Walter Cooper, ex RASC, had served in WW2 and taken part in the D Day landings.  On behalf of the French Government, he was presented with the Legion d’Honeur medal by a French consul in September.

At the October Branch meeting, John Woodall presented the John Law Award for this year to Gerald Newton for his efforts in work for Armed Forces Weekend, arranging visits and helping out other members who have health problems.

Several of our members are now experiencing chronic health issues and are unable to come to meetings.  In December, we granted honorary membership to Terry Fisher, Geoff Pattison, Fred Garner and Ralph Skelton.

We have been receiving several updates from RHQ on the future of the REME Association.  Hopefully, the aim of “One REME” will draw together the Regular, Reserve and Retired members.  I have registered all our existing members who will be granted free life membership but the proposed subscription arrangements for future members may not be popular.

Arte Et Marte

Ian Lawrence, Chairman