This is the home for some of our events
and associated photographs from previous years

CHAIRMAN’S REPORT FOR 2016

The numbers attending our monthly meetings have been gradually reducing.  Many of our members are ageing and now not fit enough to turn out, cannot leave their wives unattended or are unable to drive at night.  Also, we are not attracting new members at a rate to replace those who depart.  Many of our ageing members feel they “have already done their bit” and are no longer able to contribute in a practical way by filling a role on the committee.  Some of the younger members are too involved with their day jobs or have other demanding responsibilities.  We now have several committee vacancies, particularly the secretary’s, and the remaining committee members have tried to cover their responsibilities.  Thanks are due to all who have contributed in some way to ensuring the full programme of activities and these events have been successful, although attendance numbers are down from previous years.

  • Social activities have included a visit to The London Eye (to which we invited 14 (5 of whom were REME) In-Pensioners from the Royal Hospital Chelsea), a BBQ, Cheese & Wine Party, Lunch for Widows hosted by the Committee and their Wives, Club Lunch, River/Canal Boat Trip, the Formal Dinner at Welbeck Hall in West Bridgford, St Eligius Club Lunch for the Committee and the Christmas Party.
  • We had a stand at Armed Forces Weekend and raised funds for the REME Benevolent Fund.
  • The Branch Standard and Branch members participated at the REME Association Memorial Day and Armistice Day at the NMA, and Remembrance Sunday at Chetwynd Barracks.
  • We have visited the Norton Motorcycle factory at Castle Donington.
  • The Standard has been paraded at several funerals.

We were disappointed not to have an official guest able to attend our annual dinner though it was not for the want of trying.  Our affiliated Chelsea Pensioner, Fred Brunger, having had a stroke, could not attend but we invited another REME In-Pensioner, Rick Graham who was in good form.

This last year we have lost Len Horton, Steve Shepherd, Joyce Critchley and Bob Gilbey.  May they rest in peace.

Several of our members have been experiencing health issues.  Of particular mention are:

  • Pete Radford who was admitted to hospital several times with chest problems.  He is now at home and making good progress although still requires oxygen and use of a wheelchair.
  • Mel Cartwright joined our branch in October 2015 but before he could attend a meeting he suffered a catastrophic bleed on the brain and was in an induced coma in Salford Royal Hospital Manchester.   Mel was repatriated to the Leicester Royal Infirmary and then received treatment on the Brain Injuries Ward at the Leicester General Hospital before being transferred to The Matthews Centre, a specialist rehabilitation unit in Loughborough.  Mel’s son Gareth keeps us informed of Mel’s slow improvement.
  • Bob Seymour has had major chest problems.  Although he is now at home, he is not yet out of the woods and he has also suffered a fall.
  • We were approached by SSAFA about a REME veteran, Kenneth Warren, in Retford who has several medical problems and is suffering from dementia.  Although he is not a member, he was visited by Ken Neal and further visits are planned.
  • Several other members are aged, infirm or have medical problems.

We wish to ensure that at least one able member maintains a close liaison on one or more of our less able members so they can get help when needed.

During the year the Corps has been consolidating in Lyneham and the REME Association has seemingly not had the guidance we experienced in previous years.  Hopefully, this is changing and the aim of “One REME” will draw together the Regular, Reserve and Retired members.  We are attempting to reduce the formal content of our meetings and have introduced a monthly newsletter instead of minutes.

The MOD has announced that Chetwynd Barracks will close and the land to be sold for redevelopment after 2020.  However, the resident units are already making alternative arrangements and facilities may cease to be supported from 2018.

We are therefore looking for alternative premises for our meetings.  We would also like to establish links with the REME Reservist unit in Derby, 148 Coy of 104 Bn REME, and the Committee have visited their premises to assess suitability for our future needs.  Hopefully, the liaison will offer us a new venue and assist with swelling our membership and perhaps some new blood for the committee.

 

Annual Report 2015

Our Branch continued its efforts during 2015 with a full calendar of activities. I will remind you of what we have been up to and that includes all types of member; without the support of our wives, partners and families I doubt we would have such a successful Branch.

During the year Keith has paraded our new Branch Standard several times. It was formally dedicated at a ceremony at St George’s Garrison Church in Chetwynd Barracks on 29th April. It was attended by Regular and Reserve soldiers in addition to a good representation of Branch Members. The service was taken by Padre The Reverend P Bosher CF, DACG HQ 7th Infantry Brigade who gave a very apt address stressing how the association is a partnership between regular, reserve and retired members. After the service, we retired to the mess for a buffet lunch. The press publicity for the Branch was limited but we did get a mention in the Derby newspaper. Although Keith is still prepared to parade the standard at some ceremonies, due to his infirmity, he will be unable to fulfil his duties if there is any marching involved. On some occasions such as Remembrance Sunday, Dave Catling may be able to stand in but his work commitments generally make this difficult. We are therefore looking for a new volunteer to assist with parading our Branch Standard.

I will now cover the sombre notes. During the year we remembered members of the Association who died: Keith paraded the standard at the funeral of David Wardle an ex member of the branch. The branch was again represented at the funeral of David Ingle. Unfortunately, we learned of the death of Roydon Beal too late for us to be present at his funeral. We also remembered Edna Eden, widow of a Branch member who had attended some of our Widows lunches and Association members from other branches. Thankfully, now that active British operations have ceased in Afghanistan and supplanted with training teams for the Afghans, operational casualties have been minimal but we still acknowledged the death of a soldier who died of wounds received while in Afghanistan and the loss of RAF personnel who died in a helicopter crash while serving with NATO in Afghanistan. We continue to follow the media in case matters in the middle east flare up or Islamist terrorist activities escalate and our troops are again brought into action.

The attendance at our regular Branch meetings here in the WO’s and Sgts Mess in Chetwynd Barracks is reduced somewhat from previous years but we still have a good attendance. We have welcomed a number of new faces, especially some regular and reserve soldiers who work in the area. We realise they may not be able to join us every month but hope that they can find time to share in some of our social activities. I think it is important to retain the formal element of our meetings so we can keep in touch with military matters, plan our future activities in a democratic way and ensure those that those in need are given the support of our welfare system. There is still plenty of time to enjoy the comradeship and to take advantage of the cheap bar. The minutes of our meetings are equally important as they maintain links to those members who are unable to attend meetings in person.

Now on to our other activities. We have had our usual set of planned social activities predominantly arranged by committee members but others have made their contributions which have been much appreciated.

On 19th April Tom Brown attended the REME Association Annual Reunion at the Royal Court Hotel, Tamworth Road, Keresley, Coventry. Hopefully we will have a better representation in future.

On 21 Apr a number of members met at our house for soup & bread before driving up the A1 to the premises of Caledonian group at Carlton on Trent. Caledonian manufacture modular buildings and they gave us a presentation to describe the company ethos and show the range of work they undertake followed by a tour of part of the factory. It was a most interesting visit and we saw several examples of their products including:

  • Bathroom pods
  • Accommodation and practice rooms for the Royal College of Music.
  • Accommodation units suitable for the disabled.
  • Candidate accommodation for the Olympic village that could be converted into residential housing.
  • Hotel rooms for Travel Lodge and the Hilton.
  • Single Living Accommodation for Military (SLAM) which has been used for the construction at Lyneham.

Thanks are due to Gerald Newton for organising this informative visit.

On 16th May we had our first outdoor event in the garden of our President John and his wife Dorothy. We returned to the BBQ format but with a German flavour organised by Gary and Leanne. We had a good turnout, the weather was fine and the event went down well.

Around that time Gary and Leanne also took the opportunity to have a holiday in New Zealand and got married while they were there!

Following the refurbishment of the REME Memorial, a rededication ceremony led by the MGREME, Lt Gen Figgures was held on 2nd June at the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas in Staffordshire. Corps standards from the REME Association Branches were on parade together with a large contingent of Regular and Reserve soldiers plus Association members. Dave Catling paraded our standard and a number of our branch members were there.

Armed Forces Week 2015 culminated in a public event in Wollaton Park on 27th/28th June. The Branch had a stall, sharing a tent with Blind Veterans UK. We had several strands to our effort: Stanley, a bar skittles game and a REME soldier photo board outside to make families stop for their children to have a go. Parents were persuaded to spend money on our raffle inside featuring prizes donated by local firms, we also had small items from the REME Association shop for sale. Derek Wheatland was dressed as Jean Luc Picard and encouraged punters to have a go on his Star Trek pegboard; Our REME banners and the Craftsman magazines also attracted several REME serving soldiers, reservists and veterans and from their interest we hope to attract some potential new members. On the Sunday, Keith paraded the standard before joining us on the stand. Our net income of about £463 was split between our chosen charities of Blind Veterans UK and SSAFA. Thanks are due to all who helped out but especially Gerald who did most of the organisation and was tireless over the weekend.

In June Branch member Nick Everitt completed the Three Peaks Challenge climbing Ben Nevis, Scafell and Snowden in under 24 hours to collect monies for 2 charities; When you wish upon a Star, for terminally ill children in Nottinghamshire and The Nottingham and Lincolnshire Air Ambulance, who airlifted him to hospital after he was crushed under a trailer in 2012.

Sunday 5th July we had our second outdoor event in John and Dorothy’s garden with our Cheese and Wine Party. The weather was very kind until 16:00 hrs when we took the marquee down and retreated to the conservatory. An excellent time was had by all, especially those who took advantage of a new innovation; Port to go with the cheese. All agreed that this was a wonderful idea and should become a tradition; again, a successful event.

On Wednesday 8th July the Committee and their wives hosted several of the widows of deceased Branch Members to lunch at the Whitehouse Restaurant, Sawley. The meal was very good, especially the Belly Pork followed by Liquorice Ice Cream. We entertained four guests who I believe all enjoyed their time with us.

Sunday 12th July saw 24 of us off on a canal trip on one of the Peter le Marchant Trust boats organised by Rod Harpham. This took us on a pleasant two hour trip down the canal from Loughborough towards Mountsorrel where we had lunch at the Waterside Inn before returning to Loughborough.

On Saturday 18th July, Linda and I attended “Westfest” in the grounds of the Corps HQ Officers’ Mess in Arborfield. This was a grand event open to members of the REME Institution to celebrate the Corps’ residence in Arborfield prior to the move to Lyneham and to say farewell to the mess which will close. The event started at midday and, in addition to bars and an international buffet, comprised a series of musical stage acts including the Corps Band until midnight when there was a grand firework display.

During August Tom Brown and Tony Bunce received their General Service Medals 1918-62 with clasp ‘Cyprus’. Not long to wait to have service recognised!

On 23rd September about 30 people turned up to plant Bluebells around the REME Memorial at the NMA including our own Rod Harpham and Gerald Newton who made sure that bulbs were planted around Pete le Prevost’s memorial tree.

As RHQ now focus the Corps Birthday celebration on 1st October in locations other than the NMA, there was no RHQ sponsored ceremony there. However, the Doncaster Branch arranged an alternative event at the REME memorial. They invited other Branches in the Midlands and a small group of representatives turned up. There were 4 standards on parade, Keith Woods kindly parading ours, plus one late-comer for a simple ceremony which lasted about 5 minutes. Most then moved on to the Apprentice College Memorial which is positioned about 50m to the rear of the REME one.

The Branch Annual Dinner was held here in the Mess on Friday 16th October. After considerable angst about costs and administrative arrangements, we had a successful evening. In the absence of a Mess Manager, WO1 Bob Munson from the RE acted as our Maitre-D’ for the evening and everything went very smoothly. In the dining room, the table arrangement was different and that worked very well. With new tables, and sparkling glasses and silverware, the place settings looked stunning. To keep costs down, we restricted the menu to one item per course plus a veggie option. Although, perhaps not to everyone’s taste, service was quicker, the food was much better prepared and seemed to be enjoyed. We held the raffle during the comfort break. This saved time for drinking and socialising later. Regular and Reserve members joined the ranks of retired. We were joined this year by 4 guests from the Potteries Branch as well as some from the local RAOC Association. We again had the excellent Derbyshire ACF band to accompany us. In addition to Chelsea In-Pensioner, Fred Brunger, Dan Scott, The Regimental Colonel, was our principal guest. He gave us an interesting update on the state of the Corps at present and the vision for the future for the REME Association. John summarised what the Branch had been up to over the year and announced the latest recipient of the John Law Award. This year it has gone to Tony Bunce who, unfortunately due to his own and Maureen’s ill health, was not able to receive it in person. Our thanks must go to Gary and Leanne Holden and Steph Everitt who did a great deal of work to get this excellent event off the ground.

On Remembrance Sunday 8th November, Dave Catling paraded the standard here in the barracks and John Woodall laid a wreath at the memorial. After the parade and service, several members came into the mess for a carvery lunch. Steve Shepherd was on parade at the Cenotaph in London with Blind Veterans and featured on National TV.

On Armistice Day 11th November, Keith paraded the standard at the REME Memorial at the NMA and Brian Ireland laid a wreath on our behalf. Although we were few in numbers, the REME Act of Remembrance at the captured the moment. For once the weather was very kind to the attendees. It was difficult to hear the bugler at the main event in front of the National Memorial but that was of no consequence as REME were joined by 5 buglers from the Light Infantry who sounded magnificent. They have promised to return next year.

Members of the Committee gathered in Nottingham for lunch on Monday 30th November to commemorate our Patron, St Eligius; good comradeship, good food and good wine followed by good port thanks to Jim and John.

On 12th December we had our Christmas Party, again at John and Dorothy’s House. This year, we had hot food provided by Leanne and Gary with contributions from Dorothy and trifles from Tony Bethel. Despite ill health, there was a good attendance and everyone appeared to enjoy the proceedings.

On several occasions throughout the year, Steve Shepherd has participated in various sponsored physical challenges in aid of military charities, particularly Blind Veterans. He has raised hundreds of pounds and I thank all Branch Members who have supported him in his efforts.

Our programme has only been possible due to the efforts of our Committee and a number of other non-elected members who provide competent management of funds, an ability to deal swiftly and efficiently with Welfare issues and arrange enjoyable social events. Hopefully, I can give credit to those who made that effort.

I have already mentioned the much appreciated efforts of our standard bearers, Keith and Dave.

We must also thank John and Dorothy for opening their house and garden for the three social functions. Thanks are also due to Gary and Leanne and all the others who helped with preparation and catering; including Tony Bethell for his contribution of trifles.

Thanks are also due to John & Dorothy for allowing us the use of their home for Branch Committee meetings and to Dorothy for providing refreshments for the latter.

In addition to helping Leanne with the catering, Gary’s has done a good job as our Branch Welfare representative; hopefully his new job will give him the freedom to continue the good work.

Steph Everitt has now completed another year as Branch Treasurer. As well as handling the cash and managing the books she has again done much of the behind the scenes work of organizing the Branch Dinner and the uphill battle of liaising with the Mess contract staff.

Tom Brown again audited the Branch accounts and Arthur Cundey has maintained the Branch Membership and Honours Roll.

Tony Bunce and Dusty Miller organize the raffles at Branch meetings and social events. Through their efforts we have continued to raise funds for the Branch much of which has enabled welfare and charitable donations.

Steve Stephenson continues to maintain the branch Website and its associated photo gallery.

Thanks again to Gerald Newton for his work has put in organizing the Branch effort for Armed Forces Weekend and the outside visit. I know he has some ideas for future visits and hope that these come to fruition.

There are several of you who give lifts to those members not able to drive. This is much appreciated, not only for swelling our numbers but also for enabling individuals to have much needed social contact.

Finally we are particularly grateful to Jim Grant for his good work as Secretary not only this year but over a good number of years, dealing with correspondence, producing minutes and representing the Branch at external meetings such as the Nottinghamshire Veterans’ Organisation and the REME Association Delegates Conference on our behalf. Due to ill health, Jim is standing down as Secretary but he does not wish to reduce his support for the Branch and has therefore offered to stand for the vacant position as Vice Chairman.

We will only maintain a successful Branch if we continue to give our wholehearted support to the Committee. Please give them help, especially by supporting the events they organise on your behalf. We are all getting older and although some of you are a little infirm your minds are still sharp. I exhort you to do some soul searching and see whether you can do your bit and not rely on the same faces to do everything for you. In particular we need a new Secretary and Standard Bearer!

Chairman’s Report 2014

Our Branch maintained its efforts during 2014 with high standards and a full calendar of activities. I will remind you of what we have been up to and that includes all varieties of member; without the support of our wives, partners and families I doubt we would have such a successful Branch.

During the year we have had a new Branch Standard which Keith has paraded several times after it was blessed by the Corps Padre. It will be dedicated at a formal high profile ceremony at a local venue where we hope to gain appropriate publicity for the Branch.

I will now cover the sad notes. During the year we lost several Branch members: John Law, Roy Scott, Pat, the wife of Frank Whittall and Brian Lambert. Branch members attended their funerals and where possible the standard was on parade. We also remembered them at our Branch Meetings as well as supporting their families. We have also remembered serving REME soldiers and Association members from other branches that have died, and paid homage to all military personnel who have died as a result of operations; thankfully the numbers in the latter category have been few in recent months.

The attendance at our regular Branch meetings here in the WO’s and Sgts Mess in Chetwynd Barracks has dropped off somewhat from previous years but we still have a good attendance. While it is good to take advantage of the prices at the bar and appreciate the companionship of the other members, I think it is important to retain the formal element so we can keep in touch with military matters, plan our future activities in a democratic way and ensure those that those in need are given the support of our welfare system. The minutes of our meetings are also important as they maintain links to those members who are unable to attend meetings in person.

Now on to our other activities:

We have had our usual set of planned social activities predominantly arranged by committee members but others have made their contributions which have been much appreciated.

In April a number of members attended the Gala Dinner at Annual Reunion of the REME Association at the Bosworth Hotel, Market Bosworth, near Coventry.

On 10th May we had our first outdoor event in the garden of our President John and his wife Dorothy. As an alternative to a BBQ, we were able to take advantage of a Groupon offer and arranged a spit roast. This appeared to go down well.

In June, several members attended Chelsea Hospital Founders Day as guests of In Pensioner, Fred Brunger.

On Wednesday 2nd July the Committee and their wives hosted several of the widows of deceased Branch Members to lunch. This time we went to the Golf Club at Sawley which was a good choice. The widows are again looking forward to the next function.

On 13th July we had our second alfresco event in John and Dorothy’s garden with our Cheese and Wine Party; again, a successful event.

In a departure from our traditional calendar, we held our Annual formal dinner in this mess on 26th September rather than later in the year, partly to spread our events out more evenly and partly so that our more elderly members would not be put off by potential bad weather. The numbers attending were similar to 2013. We were able to enjoy the accompaniment of the Derby Cadet Band and we were privileged to have the Master General REME, Lt Gen A C Figgures as our principal guest as well as Chelsea In Pensioner, Fred Brunger.

Members of the Committee gathered in Nottingham for lunch on Monday 1st December to commemorate our Patron, St Eligius.

On 13th December we had our Christmas Party, again at John and Dorothy’s House. This year, we had hot food provided by Leanne and Gary with contributions from Dorothy and trifles from Tony Bethel. Despite ill health, there was a good attendance and everyone appeared to enjoy the proceedings.

We are grateful to Gerald for running a Branch Stall at the Nottingham City contribution for Armed Forces Weekend but I would have liked to have seen more members helping Gerald out. We were back in Wollaton Park and we were able to raffle a football signed by team members of Notts County FC organised by Nick Everitt. Nevertheless, the Branch stand took about £245. Less expenses, this left about £145 to be passed on to our chosen charities. So very well done! Also to Keith for parading the Standard.

In August, a good number of Members went on a boat trip in Leicestershire organized by Rod Harpham. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Most took advantage of a meal at a local hostelry.

This year the Corps Birthday celebration took the form of a parade at Tidworth and the Branch was represented by our standard bearer Keith Woods and his wife Trish.

On Remembrance Sunday a good number of Branch Members were at the traditional Service of Remembrance in Chetwynd Barracks at Chilwell where the standard was on parade and John Woodall, our President, laid a wreath. Following the Service, some Branch members came into the WOs and Sgts Mess for a curry lunch. Also on Remembrance Sunday, Steve Shepherd was on parade with other blind veterans for the Cenotaph March Past.

As the REME Memorial has been undergoing refurbishment during 2014, The Branch has not attended any ceremonies there.

We have also had a number of external visits all arranged by Gerald for which we are much appreciative. These were:

April: Smiths (Clockmakers) of Derby followed by lunch at the Bethels then a tour round the Rolls Royce Museum in Derby.

June and July: DHL operations at East Midlands Airport.

October: WH Davis (Wagon Makers) of Mansfield.

Our programme has only been possible due to the efforts of our Committee and a number of other non-elected members who provide competent management of funds, an ability to deal swiftly and efficiently with Welfare issues and arrange enjoyable social events. Hopefully, I can give credit to those who made that effort. I have mentioned some already but they deserve a second mention.

We must thank John and Dorothy for opening their house and garden for the three social functions. Thanks are also due to Gary and Leanne and all the others who helped with preparation and catering; including Tony Bethell for his contribution of trifles.

Thanks are also due to John & Dorothy for allowing us the use of their home for Branch Committee meetings and to Dorothy for providing refreshments for the latter.

In addition to helping Leanne with the catering, Gary’s has done a good job as our Branch Welfare representative; his job at the hospital putting him in a good position to do this.

We are grateful to Jim Grant for his continuing good work as Secretary, efficiently responding to mail, producing minutes promptly and representing the Branch at external meetings such as the Nottinghamshire Veterans’ Organisation and the REME Association Delegates Conference on our behalf.

Steph Everitt has now completed her third year as Branch Treasurer. As well as handling the cash and managing the books she has again done much of the behind the scenes work of organizing the Branch Dinner and the uphill battle of liaising with the Mess Manager.

In recognition for his efforts in auditing the Branch accounts and giving lifts to those members not able to drive, Tom Brown was awarded the John Law Award for Services to the Branch at the Annual Dinner.

At many of our events, including several funerals, our standard has been on parade. I must thank Keith Woods for fulfilling the standard bearer’s duties throughout the year and turning out in varying weather conditions. Although Dave Catling has not been called upon this year he is always prepared to step up to the mark if Keith is not available.

Tony Bunce and Dusty Miller organize the raffles at Branch meetings and social events and Dusty has done the lions share while Tony has been ill. Through their efforts we have continued to raise funds for the Branch much of which has enabled welfare and charitable donations.

Steve Stephenson continues to maintain the branch Website and its associated photo gallery. I must remind all members to provide him with their own photos to ensure that we can display a comprehensive “rogues gallery” of current members and a good record of our activities over the year.

Gerald Newton has put in a great deal of work in organizing many of our outside visits. Although not all of these have yet to come to fruition, the groundwork has already been done and should provide a good start for the forthcoming year.

Arthur Cundey has maintained the Branch Membership and Honours Roll. This provides a potted history of Members’ military service. As well as contributing to the Branch historical record, it can also prove useful when preparing eulogies for funerals and obituaries for the Craftsman Magazine. It happens to all of us eventually and most of us are not in the prime of our lives! Please give Arthur some help by ensuring he has your own record. He would also like to bring the Roll fully up to date with some information about members who are no longer with us; any help would be appreciated.

We will only maintain this success if we continue to give our wholehearted support to the Committee.

Annual Report for 2013

2013 has been another good year for our Branch. We have maintained our high standards and have had a full calendar of activities. Without going into too much detail, I will remind you of what we have been up to. When I refer to Branch Members, that includes Full, Associate and Family Members and well as partners as you all join in our activities and play an important part in the well-being of our Branch.

I will start with the sad notes. During the year we lost 3 Branch members:

Tom Worthington on 13th Jan

Roy Clarke on 23rd May

David Newton 24th August

Where possible we attended their funerals and remembered them at our Branch Meetings as well as supporting their families.

We have also remembered Association members from other branches who have died, and paid homage to military personnel who have died as a result of operations.

Our regular Branch meetings here in the WO’s and Sgts Mess in Chetwynd Barracks continue to be well attended. The formal bits are important as it draws everyone’s attention to what is going on in the wider military world and what the Committee are doing on your behalf. It is also an opportunity for you the members to affect our future activities in a democratic way. Of course, the bar is always open and after the formal content we have more time to sit and talk. It is nice to see the comfy furniture restored so we can better enjoy the evenings.

Now on to our other activities:

A number of Branch members enjoyed tours of the Theatre Royal Nottingham and The City Council House in March. For those who were unable to make the visit, another visit to the Theatre Royal was arranged in April.

Later in April, several members visited the British Geological Survey HQ at Keyworth.

From Friday 19th to Sunday 23rd April a number of members including the Standard Bearer attended the Annual Reunion of the REME Association at Hayling Island.

On Sat 1st June we held our Annual Barbeque at our President’s House in Clifton. The weather was fine and the food was good; John was even overheard praising the sausages.

On Thursday 6th June, 8 members attended Chelsea Hospital Founders Day in their best outfits. The weather for the day could not have been better. The spectacle of the parade was moving and the Duchess of Cornwall inspected the pensioners on parade. After the parade, we joined in-pensioner Fred Brunger, his grandson and fiancee for a picnic in a big marquee. Fred provided most of the grub and drink. Fred then gave us a short guided tour of his room and some other parts of the Hospital.

Nottingham was the National focus for National Armed Forces Week which started off with flag raising ceremonies on Monday 24th June and the main event on Saturday 29th. The focus was on the Victoria Embankment by the River Trent where there were various military displays and a Veterans’ Tent where we had a stand. Thanks are due to all who helped out but in particular to Sam Mitchell for coordinating our contribution and Keith for parading the Standard. The stall made £230.51 of which £50 was donated to the Air Ambulance and £180.51, representing the balance, went to The Army Benevolent Fund. So very well done! Ken Neal also took the opportunity of the Armed Forces Day to sell raffle tickets for a cricket bat signed by members of the Derbyshire County Cricket team and donated by Ken’s son, Wayne. In accordance with Ken’ wishes, the £327 raised has gone to Branch Funds to support Branch members. We owe our appreciation to Ken for his efforts.

On Wednesday 3rd July the Committee and their wives hosted most of the widows of Branch Members to lunch at the Hogs Head, Awsworth. This was well received and the widows are looking forward to the next function.

On Sunday 7th July we held our Cheese & Wine party in the garden of our President. The weather was again favourable and we all enjoyed the food and drink.

In September, a good number of Members went on a Narrow-boat Trip on the Beeston Canal and the Trent and organized by Nick Everitt. Although the weather was rather overcast, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and the majority took a turn at the helm. Some even operated the canal locks with varying degrees of success. After the trip we gathered in a canal-side pub and enjoyed generous helpings of good food.

Several Members attended the Corps Birthday celebration at the NMA. Thankfully, the ground was firmer underfoot than previous years and the rain stayed away.

We held our formal Annual Dinner on Friday 25th Oct. Unfortunately, as it coincided with school half term, the Cadet Band was not available. However, we still enjoyed the evening. We particularly appreciated our guest speaker, Lt Col Mike Tizard, who gave us an update on the Corps, the status of the Corps Band, and the move of the home of Corps to Lyneham. Chelsea Pensioner, Fred Brunger, was also a guest.

On Armistice Day the Branch was again represented at the NMA and a wreath was laid on behalf of the Branch by Brian Ireland.

On Remembrance Sunday a good number of Branch Members were at the traditional Service of Remembrance in Chetwynd Barracks at Chilwell where the standard was on parade and John Woodall, our President, laid a wreath. Following the Service, members were able to join the members of the WOs and Sgts Mess for a curry lunch.

Also on Remembrance Sunday, Steve Shepherd was on parade with other blind veterans for the Cenotaph March Past.

The Committee gathered in Nottingham for lunch on Monday 2nd December to commemorate our Patron, St Eligius.

Finally, on 7th December, we held our Branch Christmas Party at the home of our President. Good company, food and wine were again much appreciated.

Our programme has only been possible due to the efforts of our Committee and a number of other non-elected members who provide competent management of funds, an ability to deal swiftly and efficiently with Welfare issues and arrange enjoyable social events. Hopefully, I can give credit to those who made that effort.

We must thank John and Dorothy for opening their house and garden for the three social functions. Thanks are also due to Trish and all the others who helped with preparation and catering; not forgetting Tony Bethell for his contribution of trifles.

Thanks are also due to John & Dorothy for allowing us the use of their home for Branch Committee meetings and to Dorothy for providing refreshments for the latter.

I must thank Jim Grant for his continuing good work as Secretary, efficiently responding to mail, producing minutes promptly and representing the Branch at external meetings such as the Nottinghamshire Veterans’ Organisation and the REME Association Delegates Conference on our behalf.

Steph Everitt has now completed her second year as Branch Treasurer. As well as handling the cash and managing the books she did the majority of the behind the scenes work of organizing the Branch Dinner. In recognition of her efforts she was awarded the John Law Award for Services to the Branch at the Annual Dinner.

At many of our events, including some of the funerals, our standard has been on parade. I must thank Dave Catling and Keith Woods for sharing the standard bearer’s duties throughout the year and turning out in varying weather conditions.

Tony Bunce and Dusty Miller organize the raffles at Branch meetings and social events. Through their efforts we have continued to raise funds for the Branch much of which has enabled welfare and charitable donations.

Steve Stephenson continues to maintain the branch Website and its associated photo gallery. I must remind all members to provide him with their own photos to ensure that we can display a comprehensive “rogues gallery” of current members and a good record of our activities over the year.

Tom Brown has again audited the Branch accounts.

Gerald Newton has put in a great deal of work in organizing many of our outside visits. Although not all of these have yet to come to fruition, the groundwork has already been done and should provide a good start for the forthcoming year.

Arthur Cundey has maintained the Branch Membership and Honours Roll. This provides a potted history of Members’ military service. As well as contributing to the Branch historical record, it can also prove useful when preparing eulogies for funerals and obituaries for the Craftsman Magazine. It happens to all of us eventually and most of us are not in the prime of our lives! Please give Arthur some help by ensuring he has your own record. He would also like to bring the Roll fully up to date with some information about members who are no longer with us; any help would be appreciated.

Last but definitely not least I must say a big thank-you to Brian Ireland. After I took over from him as Chairman, he has continued to give us good service as Branch Welfare Officer. He has continued to keep in regular touch with our more elderly or infirm members and widows and give us progress reports on their progress. Where necessary, he has initiated welfare action to improve their situation. In the worst case, he has had a major input to the management of funeral arrangements for the family. Throughout his time as welfare officer, he has been suffering from his own health problems and he has been unwilling to let this affect his welfare work. However, he has had an ultimatum from the doctor that he must take it easy. To that end, Brian has had to stand down from his role as welfare officer. Thankfully, that has not been as critical as it could have been as Brian has prepared some excellent guidance notes for The Branch Welfare Officer. By all accounts, he has also done a good job of passing on his knowledge, and hopefully enthusiasm, to Gary Holden who has agreed to be his successor. As Gary works he cannot be expected to do as much as Brian so we rely on other Branch members to share the monitoring of our less fit members.

We will only maintain this success if we continue to give our wholehearted support to the Committee.

Ian Lawrence

Chairman

2012 Chairman’s Report

At the end of 2011, most standing committee members agreed to stand for a further year. However, there were some changes. David Marshall stood down as Vice Chairman and Treasurer because his new personal commitments would clash with Branch meetings. Wayne Barber filled the Vice Chairman’s post and Stephanie Everitt kindly agreed to stand is his place as Treasurer. Nick Everitt and Wayne Barber took on some of the role of Social Secretary while Gerald Newton volunteered to coordinate some of the visits programme, though not as a member of the committee. We had no additional nominations, so all remaining posts were duly re-elected unopposed. We also have several other non-committee positions that other members agreed to undertake and I will attempt to do justice to everybody’s contribution throughout 2012 in due course.

As in previous years, the Branch has maintained a fairly full calendar of activities throughout the year with events being managed either by individual members or on a shared basis. In all that we do, we continue to maintain the high standards that we have grown to expect.

Our routine monthly meetings in the WO’s and Sgts’ Mess in Chetwynd Barracks continue to be well attended and have followed a format that seems to work well. After a roll-call, we pause to remember servicemen who have lost their lives on operations and also REME Association members who are, sadly, no longer with us. We consider military issues, particularly those that pertain to REME and make the arrangements for sound management of our formal Branch activities. We draw welfare issues to the attention of the Branch and ensure appropriate arrangements are made to address them. Where possible, we try to help out Service Charities. However, we are not stuffy and we ensure that our final agenda item covers our social and external visits calendar. We have a raffle that helps raise funds, particularly enabling our welfare and charitable efforts. Of course, the bar is open for the duration and, helped by the sandwiches and pork pies, there is plenty of opportunity for a friendly atmosphere. All our members and widows of ex-members are sent minutes of our meetings and these appear to be appreciated, especially by those unable to attend. We also try to maintain a more public record of our activities via a website and articles for the Craftsman Magazine. Having spoken to the new Presiding Head of the Mess, the RSM of the RTMC, I can confirm that our ability to meet in the Mess is secure for at least the coming year.

Defence cuts and changes to the UK static military command structure have taken place and this has affected Chilwell Station and the arrangements in Chetwynd Barracks. As 2012’s calendar has panned out, the new organization, where responsibilities are shared out across the resident units in the camp, appears to be taking some time to shake out. Hopefully this will not have any detrimental effect to our future activities.

RHQ REME has not avoided the problems of restructuring and consequently they have had limited staffing during the year. Communications have been disjointed and we have not always received timely notification of details of Regimental Funerals.

Our President, John Woodall, and Secretary, Jim Grant, attended the REME Association Delegates Conference on our behalf. John Woodall, is also Midland Area Representative of the REME Association and, in that capacity, attends the Association Executive Committee. These fora provide a valuable means for our voice to be heard, especially important in a year where communications have been difficult.

This is an appropriate time to thank Jim Grant for his excellent work as Secretary, responding to all mail efficiently and without delay, dealing with the understaffed RHQ, producing minutes promptly and representing the Branch at external meetings such as the Nottinghamshire Veterans’ Organisation. I must also give particularly praise for our Treasurer Stephanie Everitt. Although figures are not a problem for her, this is her first year of doing the job in a military environment and getting to grips with our way of working has been understandably difficult. Nevertheless, she has managed our finances proficiently and her report shows that we continue to be in sound shape. Hopefully, next year will not be such a trial and we will ensure that organization of the Annual Dinner is not her responsibility.

As most of you cannot have missed, we have a Branch Tie. We have presented branch ties to several new members who have joined in the last year and subsequently attended a number of Branch meetings during the year. In order to carry on with this tradition, we have re-ordered some ties to replenish our depleted stock. A special tie was also presented to Stanley, Steve Shepherd’s guide dog, without whose regular attendance, Steve would not also have been able to attend.

During the year we have been keeping an eye on our more elderly or infirm members and widows and reporting on their progress. The main burden of this has fallen to Brian Ireland, our welfare officer, and for this we are very grateful, but other members have also made their contributions and I hope that this trend will continue. We have also been monitoring attendance at monthly meetings and noted if normally regular members appear to be absent. This has often prompted a telephone call or personal visit to ensure there are no problems that we did not otherwise know about. In most cases, this has provided reassurance to the Branch that there is nothing too serious and welcome comfort to the member that they are being thought about. However, in some cases, further action has been necessary. In the main, this has been done admirably by Brian Ireland, where his contacts with appropriate welfare agencies have been invaluable. Brian would not be able to do this work without the support of his wife, Sylvia. It is appropriate that I read the following citation:

He follows the basic principles of welfare which are: health, happiness, prosperity and general wellbeing, facilitating financial and other assistance to those in need. To those ends, he travels extensively; visiting members who have requested help or have been unable to attend meetings, especially those who have been taken into care. He spends countless hours working for and maintaining contact with those in need of our help. Where possible, he attempts to meet their needs with personal contact from himself, Sylvia or another branch member. He may draw on Branch resources to meet an immediate need such as paying for transport for a wife to make a hospital visit but generally he puts the member or their family in touch with the relevant agencies who can provide formal and, hopefully, enduring and perhaps financial support. This, therefore, entails identifying and maintaining working relationships with all those agencies, which takes time in itself.

When those sad times come, he arranges funerals and brings comfort to dependents and families, occasionally acting for family members in dealing with government departments; and over-seeing claims for War Pensions etc.

Brian’s efforts are made all the more difficult because he has his own medical problems to contend with which frequently lay him out when the pills are ineffective. Brian does all this without complaint and deserves a big thank-you.

In recognition of this work, John Woodall presented Brian Ireland with the John Law award for 2012 at our Annual Dinner. The main trophy will, of course have to be returned at the end of the year, but Brian was also given a smaller replica as a keepsake.

Now on to some specific activities in 2012. I start with the sad notes.

Branch members attended the following ceremonies:

On Thursday 17th May 2012 at Bramcote Crematorium, the funeral of Wally Waller an ex Branch Member who served as a recovery mechanic and later as an instructor at Bordon and was credited with designing the “Tool Recy Mech”.

On Friday 29 Jun in Oakham, the funeral of WO2 John Stuart Hall REME. He was serving with 6 Close Sp Regt RLC LAD in Tidworth.

On 10 Jul at Bramcote Crematorium, the funeral of WO1 Terence Foster REME.

On 6th August at Bramcote Crematorium, the funeral of Doris Gill. Doris was the wife of Harry Gill, our previous Branch Chairman.

On Wednesday 9th Jan 2013 at Beeston Parish Church, the funeral of Sam White, one of our Branch members.

Now on to less sombre but nevertheless formal external events.

Several members including the Standard Bearer attended the REME Association Reunion Weekend in Coventry. 20-23 April.

On 7th June 2012 Keith and Trish Woods attended the Royal Hospital Chelsea Founders Day, courtesy of tickets kindly provided by Fred Brunger, In-Pensioner.

On Sunday 10th June, The Nottinghamshire RBL held its Annual Parade and Service of Rededication at Southwell Minster. This was a special event as it was the Lord-Lieutenant’s last RBL service and it was hoped that many Organisations might attend. Consequently, our standard was on parade.

Several members attended the Corps Weekend at Arborfield on 16th June.

On Monday 25th June Keith paraded our Standard for the Flag Raising Ceremony on the Trent Embankment next to County Hall to celebrate the start of Armed Forces Week.

On Friday 29 Jun Brian and Sylvia Ireland were in London for the dedication of the new memorial for Bomber Command. Sylvia’s father was one of those bomber crew members who were lost on operations.

Nottingham County Council had Woolaton Park back in use for the Armed Forces Weekend on the weekend of 30th Jun-1st Jul, so the Branch decided to have a stand. The weather was very cool with overcast skies and there were several outbreaks of rain. There was also limited participation from Regular Forces units. As a result, the attendance from the public was rather depleted. Despite this, the stand had a steady trickle of customers and we were able to realise £338.31. This was subsequently rounded up to £350.00 from Branch funds and donated to the Army Benevolent Fund. Dave Catling paraded the Standard at the Drumhead Service on Sunday 1st July. Thanks are due to all members who gave up their time to prepare for this and help man the stand at the weekend.

In addition to the donation to the Army Benevolent Fund, we have also made donations of £120 to SSAFA and £120 to the RBL in line with our pledge at last year’s AGM. The RBL also benefited by our donations of £168 for Wreaths and Poppy Crosses. We have given £10 to Derby & District Ex Services Association by way of an affiliation fee and £20 in memory of Sam White which will go to MS Research, British Heart Foundation and MacMillan Nurses.

Having been warned off by HQ about ground conditions, our attendance at the Corps Birthday celebration on 1st Oct at the NMA Alrewas was reduced, although the Branch was still represented. Because of the weather, the service was held in the NMA chapel instead of at the REME Memorial.

Conditions at the NMA for Armistice Day were similar when the Branch was again represented and a wreath was laid on behalf of the Branch by Brian Ireland. Kath Le Prevost also laid a wreath in memory of her late husband, Pete.

The main Branch effort for Armistice Day was at the traditional Service of Remembrance in Chetwynd Barracks at Chilwell where the standard was on parade, John Woodall, our President, laid a wreath and I recited “The Homage”. Following the Service, members were able to take up the offer to join the members of the WOs and Sgts Mess for a curry lunch.

Also on November 11th, Steve Shepherd was on parade with other blind veterans for the Cenotaph March Past.

At many of these events, including most of the funerals, our standard has been on parade. I must thank Dave Catling and Keith Woods for sharing the standard bearer’s duties throughout the year and turning out, often at short notice in varying weather conditions.

Now on to our internal Social Programme:

Firstly, on Saturday 26th May 2012 we had our Barbeque in our President’s garden. The weather was very kind and it was a very successful event and our thanks go to all who assisted. However, over-catering of food for this event continues to create problems when some members did not turn up as expected and a realization that members in retirement do not consume as much as serving squaddies.

As a new venture for the Branch, the committee and their wives hosted the widow members of the Branch to a lunch in at the Hogshead pub at Awsworth on Wednesday 4th July. All bar one of the widows accepted our hospitality and seemed to enjoy the experience, appreciating the opportunity to attend a social function in a friendly environment and catch up with Branch acquaintances. Thanks are due to Steve for making the arrangements. The event was so well received that it is our intention to do something similar in 2013.

On Sunday 29th July 2012 we held our Cheese and Wine Party again in our President’s garden. We had about 20 attendees. The sun shined for most of the time and a good time was had by all. As usual, the food was excellent. As we were in the middle of post mortems from Brian’s quiz, the sky darkened and suddenly, the heavens opened. Thank goodness for the marquee. The sun reappeared long enough to dry the marquee but as the clouds were threatening, we had a very hasty dismantling so it could be put away dry. Most of us then retired to the conservatory for teas and coffees, and it was none too soon as the rain came down again.

On Friday 2nd November 2012 we held our formal Annual Dinner in the WO’s and Sgt’s Mess at Chilwell. Compared with last year, numbers were down a little and the only official guest who was able to accept our invitation was Fred Brunger, in-pensioner from the Royal Hospital Chelsea. The Derby ACF Band provided the live music for us again and this was such a success that we hope to invite them to play again this coming year.

John Netherwood, the BEME of 49 Bde had been a regular Branch member. He was posted late 2012 and to recognize the good support that he had given the Branch during his tenure, the committee treated him to Lunch on 8th Oct.

On Monday 3rd December 2012, most of the Committee met for their St Eligius Committee Lunch.

On Saturday 8th December 2011 we held our Branch Christmas Party in our President’s house. There was more than enough excellent food to eat and plenty of wine left over from the BBQ and Cheese and wine parties. As Brian Ireland was unable to attend, I provided the quizzes in his absence. I must reassure all who participated that cerebral effort is good for keeping Alzheimer’s at bay!

During 2012, we have again appreciated the hospitality of our President and his wife Dorothy for our outdoor BBQ and Cheese and Wine Parties in the summer and for the indoor Christmas Party in December. I must also thank our ladies, particularly Trish Woods, for the assistance they give us in the catering at our informal social functions. We must not forget Tony Bethell for his contribution of trifles.

In late August, Wayne Barber who assisted Nick Everitt in the social programme resigned from the committee to emigrate with his family to Australia. We shall miss him, particularly for the quizzes that he provided at the end of Branch meetings.

Members of the Branch made the following group visits during 2012. Thanks are due to the organizers without whose efforts, the visits would not have gone ahead.

Gerald Newton organized a visit on 8th February to ZF (GB) Ltd, at Lenton, Nottingham. ZF specialise in repairs to transmissions and power steering assembly. This was an informative visit with a strong engineering flavour.

Gerald Newton organized a visit on 15th March to King Engineering in Market Harborough. King is a privately owned firm which manufactures or modifies heavy duty trailers and other specialist equipment including some “green stuff”. This was another informative visit with an engineering content and surprised us all with the range of interesting equipment.

Brian Ireland organized a visit on 26th July to Portland College near Mansfield. The aim of the college is to provide a wide range of assessments, re-training, resettlement and independence support programmes for disabled young people. This includes injured service personnel and the programme gives them the necessary support, guidance, assessment, education and training to enable them to leave the armed forces with dignity and confidence, together with the greatest chance possible of a successful return to civilian life, independence and alternative employment. This visit was particularly moving and was well received by members.

Gerald Newton organized a visit on 10th July to Mansfield HART (Hotspot Ambulance Response Team). The unit complements the standard ambulance service and provides on-call staff who have specialist training in a range of rescue incidents covering such as fire, terrorist attacks, water, and operating at heights. The visit was popular and is to be repeated on a different weeknight to enable more members to attend.

Nick Everitt organized a visit on 18th September to SEME at Bordon, Hampshire. Nick was incapacitated following his accident and was unable to supervise the visit. Nevertheless, after some initial housekeeping problems, the visit was a success with the opportunity to look at the latest military vehicles as well as the historic fleet.

There are some other members who must be thanked for their efforts of your behalf over the past year:

Tony Bunce and Dusty Miller for organizing the raffles at Branch meetings and social events. Through their efforts we have continued to raise funds for welfare and charitable donations.

Tom Brown, for auditing the accounts.

Steve Stephenson for maintaining the branch Website and its associated photo gallery. I must remind all members to provide him with their own photos to ensure that we can display a comprehensive “rogues gallery” of current members and a good record of our activities over the year.

Arthur Cundey for maintenance of the Branch Membership and Honours Roll. Please give him some help by providing a potted history of your previous military service. He would also like to bring the Roll fully up to date with at least some information about members who are no longer with us so any help would be appreciated.

We could not have achieved so much without the efforts of all the elected committee and the other unelected members who have worked to provide competent management of funds, an ability to deal swiftly and efficiently with Welfare issues and the provision of entertaining and rewarding social events. We will only maintain this success if we continue to give our wholehearted support to the Committee.

Ian Lawrence
Annual Report for 2011At the end of 2010, all committee members, bar the Social Secretary, agreed to stand for a further year. All posts less the Social Secretary were duly re-elected unopposed. Despite this vacancy, we have managed to maintain a fairly full calendar of activities throughout the year with various members managing one or more events on an individual or shared basis. Although not a formal committee post, maintenance of a Branch Membership and Honours Roll has been an excellent way of providing a record of a potted history of our members but maintenance of the manual system has been difficult. The task has been computerized with associated notes for managing it so it could be maintained by someone with no previous experience. Later in the year, Arthur Cundey took on the responsibility and has made good progress with details and photos of most of current members now included.The Branch has continued to maintain the high standards in normal activities that it set itself in previous years. We have had good attendance by full, associate and family members at monthly Branch meetings and, as ever, we have maintained a good balance between formal business and a convivial atmosphere. Minutes of every meeting are dispatched to all members and widows who are unable to attend in person and feedback from them indicates that they very much appreciate this contact with old comrades and our activities.During the year, there have been a number of members or widows with welfare problems and the Branch has assisted where possible. The committee also monitor attendance at meetings and if a regular member does not attend for 3 consecutive months, a follow-up telephone call or visit is arranged to ensure there are no problems we did not otherwise know about. Individual members have also maintained regular welfare visits to members and widows with longer term problems.During the year the branch mourned the loss of several serving or retired REME personnel, several of whom were branch members. Where possible the Branch was represented at their funerals by the participation of several members, in particular, the Branch Standard Bearer and Bugler. Several members also attended the ceremony where the name of Sgt David John Kinsley REME, killed on operations in Bosnia in 1998, was added to the Mansfield Heroes Memorial.
Often when the committee learn about the death of a member, it is difficult to disseminate timely details to members in advance of the next monthly meeting. Accordingly, we have instigated a cascade telephone system to bolster the normal email notification. Early feedback shows that, even if the member is unable to attend the funeral, this contact is appreciated and is a useful backup to our welfare arrangements.Branch members, generally supported by the Standard Bearer also attended the Corps Birthday,Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday Services at The NMA Alrewas and the traditional Service of Remembrance in Chetwynd Barracks at Chilwell. The weather was favourable for all these events and our elderly members did not suffer from the cold and wet. Following the Remembrance Service,members enjoyed the hospitality of the WOs and Sgts Mess for a curry lunch.Several members including the Standard Bearer attended the REME Association Reunion Weekend at Blackpool.Branch members donated for gifts to fill 48 boxes for Op Santa 2011. These were delivered to RHQ at the delegates’ conference weekend.Unlike previous years, the Branch did not participate in the City Of Nottingham’s celebration of Armed ForcesDay and Veteran’s Weekend. The usual venue at Wollaton Park was not available so stalls and activities were spread over several locations in the City. There would have been no single focus to attract visitors and parking for members who would man a stall would have been problematic. The secretary has given feedback tothe appropriate committee and, hopefully,we will be joining in with the 2012 event.We have had visits to the Erewash Canal Preservation Society, a private museum specialising in militaria and the Bombardier train factory. A popular visit was to the Defence Capability Centre at Shrivenham wherewe received informed briefings on past and present military hardware. Gerald Newton is in the process of settingup a more comprehensive series of external visits for 2012. We have twice used the indoor SAT range to try our combat shooting skills with theSA80 rifle. Members have continued to take advantage of engineering lectures at the Rolls Royce Heritage Trust in Derby and the Institute of Mechanical Engineers at Loughborough University. We have again appreciated the hospitality of our President and his wife Dorothy when we have held our outdoor BBQ and Cheese and Wine Party in the summer and for the indoor Christmas Party in December. Defence cuts and future changes to the UK static military command structure will affect Station HQ and arrangements in Chetwynd Barracks. We are reassured by the new Station Commander that the Branch needs will be considered and our ability to hold meetings and social functions should continue in the future, probably under Civil Service management. Ian LawrenceOur Chairman’s Report 1st February 2011At the last AGM, we saw the standing down of Brian Ireland after 10 years as Chairman. The members were so appreciative of his service to the Association in general and the Branch in particular, that the members presented Brian and his wife Sylvia with appropriate gifts. The Committee also nominated him for an Association President’s Commendation. This was duly granted and on 1st June, Barry Woodward, Area Vice President, travelled from Yorkshire to present The Association President’s Commendation to Brian “in recognition of the outstanding work he has done on behalf of the Branch and his commitment to the Association”. Although he no longer serves as a formal committee member, Brian, supported by his wife Sylvia, continues to serve the Branch in a welfare capacity, maintaining regular contact with members who have health and other problems, reporting back to the members via the committee and implementing their directions where appropriate. Once again, we are indebted to Brian and Sylvia. All other committee members agreed to stand for a further year and, there being no alternative nominations, were duly elected.Apart from Brian, other committee members have continued their own regular welfare visits. During the year, we were also belatedly made aware of some new welfare cases. We realised that it had been possible for a member to have problems and for us to be unaware of the circumstances until quite late in the day. Therefore, we will now monitor members’ attendance at Branch meetings. If a member does not attend or send apologies for 3 meetings in a row, a committee member will get in touch to offer mutual reassurance that the Branch is there to offer friendship always and assistance where necessary.To turn to more upbeat matters, we have had a full social diary. We have had visits to Bletchley Park, Morgan Motors and Newark Air Museum. We continue to maintain our relationship with the Rolls Royce Heritage Trust who kindly invite us to their events and lectures and more recently we have received invitations to Institute of Mechanical Engineers lectures at Loughborough University. We have enjoyed the hospitality of our President and his wife Dorothy to stage our alfresco BBQ and Cheese and Wine Party in the summer and for the Christmas Party in December, thankfully indoors. Our formal annual dinner in the WO’s and Sgt’s Mess at Chilwell was well attended with Lt Col Paul Fletcher, Comd ES 5 Div as our principal guest. Our other guests included the Garrison Adjt and RSM and Fred Brunger, in-pensioner at the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Feedback from the official guests, members and personal guests has been excellent and gives us every incentive to continue this format for the foreseeable future.Branch meetings and the Dinner would not be such a success if it were not for the hospitality of the RSM Chilwell Garrison and the members of the WO’s and Sgt’s Mess. We are extremely grateful for this and I have been reassured by RSM Clarke that the arrangement will continue.Prior to our September Branch meeting, many members attended presentations by the CO of the RTMC and his staff at Chilwell where we learned about the mounting and rehabilitation activities of the unit. We were surprised to learn that they prepare politicians, diplomatic staff and press for visits and duty in foreign theatres as well as ensuring servicemen are properly equipped and prepared for operational tours. It is also encouraging to know that servicemen, physically and mentally injured in the line of duty, are well looked after on their return from theatre.Branch members returned to the National Memorial Arboretum on Armistice Day when a wreath was laid on behalf of the branch at the REME Memorial.At the formal ceremonies, the funerals and the dedication of new memorial in Clifton, the Branch has either been represented by our standard bearer, Dave Catling or his stand-in Keith Woods. Gerrard Wadsworth has also played the bugle on a number of occasions. Although Branch members always appreciate the gravitas their presence brings, there has been feedback from other people confirming this and I would like to express thanks on behalf of everyone. Although the Corps has now provided a waterproof cape for the Branch standard bearer, we wait to test its effectiveness in inclement weather. Jim Grant has continued to give good Secretarial service, .responding to all mail efficiently and without delay. I never cease to be amazed at his ability to record the proceedings of our meetings without the use of formal shorthand and to produce excellent minutes in such a prompt manner. Those members who are unable to attend meetings and other interested parties really appreciate seeing an account of our activities and to note that we are a thriving Branch.Steve Stephenson has pressed on with improvements to The Website and the photo gallery provides an excellent record of our activities over the year. However, Steve can only work with the material he is given and that must come from the members.Finally, I must thank our ladies for the assistance they give us, partly for such help as catering at social functions, but more importantly, the knowledge that they are at our sides.Ian LawrenceAnnual Report for 2008 Our Branch Visit to Jaguar Castle BromwichWe travelled back in the coach and those who had driven their colleagues to Stratstone’s customer parking and left their cars there were delighted to discover they had been given a free valet while they were away!We rounded off our day out by adjourning to the Rolls Royce Club in Derby for a buffet and a few beers, a chance to relax and discuss what we had seen during our visit and for some, to try to figure out how to own one of the new “leapers”.

2008 Annual DinnerWork then progressed to agree the menu options and circulate these to our members. We issued official invitations to the Camp Commandant, Adjutant and RSM and their partners, our Honorary Chelsea Pensioner – Fred Brunger and, as our principal guest for 2008, – Brigadier (Retd) Tony Ball CBE – the Corps Secretary. We were, however, delighted to be able to welcome Brigadier Tony Ball and RSM WO1 Neil and Mrs Caroline Waters. We were similarly delighted when Fred Cooper, a long term member of the Branch and founder member of the Corps, (who had landed on the beaches in Normandy), agreed to attend on the “Top Table” in honour of his service with both the Corps & Association.We also welcomed a group of approximately 10 colleagues from the RAOC with whom we maintain close relationships between the Associations.

Grace was said by Father Brentnall, 80 members and guests sat down to a superbly cooked and well presented supper accompanied by various hand selected wines.

After the Loyal Toast and a toast to our Colonel in Chief, our President – Lt Col (Retd) John Woodall gave a summary of the Branch’s year and proposed a toast to the guests.

As RSM Waters had been scheduled to leave Chilwell early in 2009, we took the opportunity to present him with a crystal decanter and a bouquet of flowers to his wife Caroline, to thank them for their tremendous support to the Branch during his tenure.

After a short address, RSM Waters handed over to Brigadier Tony, who responded formally on behalf of the guests and gave us an update on the Corps’ activities and outlook – all of which was very positive.

After a quick review of the Association Annual report, there was considerable discussion regarding recruitment with individual delegates putting forward creative ideas on how to improve recruitment at Branch and association levels.Col Richard Bennett ( Regt Col) gave an update on progress for the REME Memorial at the

National Memorial Arboretum (NMA)Alrewas. The grand Opening date was still unknown as it would depend on the diary commitments of our Col in chief – Prince Philip. The Secretary reported that the Association central Website is now up and running –www.reme-association.org.ukBrig Drew informed delegates that the Association Handbook was in the process of being updated and amended and then brought the meeting to a close, and noted that this would be Andy Anderson’s last meeting in the role of secretary, and thanked him for all his efforts during his tenure. Andy responded and thanked all the branches for the support he had received. Next meeting to be first Saturday in July in Bailleul Mess.The idea came about as a result of David Marshall, our Branch Treasurer and Vice Chairman, surfing the Internet to find a way to send parcels to Iraq at Christmas 2007.Several options were available but these were largely led by local newspapers and radio and were focussed on primarily members of infantry regiments who have a tendency to recruit geographically.

As the Army’s technical Corps, REME recruit nationally and so there was no one to “lead the charge” to get Christmas Parcels for REME soldiers.

There is however, The REME Association, with 40 branches spread across the UK – so, the germ of the idea developed.

At the time the project was fired up – January 2008, it appeared that British troops would have completed their mission in Iraq and hence Project Santa was “Let’s mobilise the branches to each send 10 parcels to REME soldiers in Afghanistan”. And so it evolved.

David spoke with the Association Secretary & the Regimental Colonel, he and Andy Anderson contacted the OIC Post & Communications in theatre – we looked at the most efficient way to get the parcels to the REME troops, we needed dates, dates that would ensure we did not snarl up other Christmas mail.

We needed to know what the criteria was concerning the size and weight of the parcels, to attract free postage.

Contact points in theatre were established and then we pressed the“GO” button.

This resulted in a mail out from RHQ to launch the project in the middle of the year. A briefing paper was sent to each branch indicating some Do’s and Don’ts regarding the contents that would and would not be accepted.

RHQ printed insert labels to ensure that we presented a unified “Association” image, but left space for individuals to write their own messages of support.

All of these were sent out along with Custom’s Declaration forms and pre-printed address labels to the nominated REME Soldier focal point in both theatres.

This was followed up by a short presentation at the Delegates conference in July.

By now support was growing and we had moved from a target of 400 parcels to receiving approx 560 pledged parcels – this was getting embarrassing!!

Well, the solution soon became apparent – all the predictions that we would have left Iraq in 2008 were clearly not going to happen, so, it was easy, extend the project scope to include all REME troops there too! – the revised target became over 700 parcels.

The support for the project continued unabated, there were Church groups, PROBUS groups, a town council, REME TA soldiers on their annual camp, REME Reserve Officers’ dining club, member’s friends, even a ladies slimming club wanted to show support and loyalty to our (REME) troops in theatre.

At the Branch level shops were making donations to individuals. In the Branches, each was given freedom as to how they raised the money to buy, beg or borrow the parcel contents. One of the appealing things about the parcels, I hope, was that each one would be different – other than the general guidelines mentioned earlier – it was up to individuals as to what was included.

In the end we probably collectively sent around 800 parcels to all ranks REME in Iraq & Afghanistan. As leader of this project I can only say how rewarding and humbling an experience it was in terms of receiving such a collectively fantastic response.

I am sure that we have raised the profile of the Association in the eyes of our serving colleagues and, last but by no means least, have helped sustain our colleagues in theatre in some small way.

Bell Foundry visit March 2008On entering the foundry one is immediately aware that very little has changed here over the past two centuries, and it represents a unique opportunity to see skills and procedures which have hardly changed with the passing years. Casting a bell calls for a high degree of accuracy at all stages of its production in order to obtain purity of timbre in the finished bell. The slightest irregularity or fault may ruin the bell completely. The company provides a complete service and constructs the wooden bell-wheels, stays and sliders in the joinery shop and bell ropes are also made on site.Bell inscriptions and dates are cast into every bell, motifs and dedications are prepared separately and the ability to spell backwards is essential. Every bell produces more than one note when struck; the main note is the loudest. The overall sound is also made up of ‘harmonics’ – very important notes which affect the tone of a bell as do all musical instruments made up of various combinations of harmonics. An expert ear is required at this stage and a vertical borer to remove metal during tuning is used. In past times the hard and brittle metal was taken off by hand using a chipping hammer.If you wish to visit the Foundry, have a look at theirwebsite for more information.
Social Program 2007
Loughborough is famous for its Carillon of 47 bells played by a Carrilloneur at a clavier, each bell carries a dedication to the fallen of the First World War. The Memorial erected in 1923 is a tower rising to a height of 87ft which also houses the Regimental Museum of The Leicestershire Regiment. The visit was organized by Eric Chamberlain and suggested by Bill Andrews. We are grateful to both gentlemen for an unforgettable experience. A brilliant day out!
We were given a pre- tour insight by our guide in the museum who explained how a bell is made, the different types and their uses. Church bells were first cast in this country by monks from about 800AD. They are usually cast in bronze –‘bell metal’ – an alloy of 23% tin and 77% copper. The critical temperature required is to-day measured by instruments and a controllable furnace, the crucible is maneuvered by crane. It is astonishing to think how this temperature was achieved and maintained using ancient methods? We were very fortunate to witness the casting process during our visit an operation which occurs less frequently in modern times. The company operates a servicing facility which forms the bulk of their current work load. During preparation of a casting, which takes several days, moulding material, or loam, is made from high clay content sand with chopped hay and horse manure for binding, and is built up by hand. Once the bell is cast cooling takes about three to four days. The Great Paul bell cast in 1888 took two weeks to cool! (The casting template is still on-site)
Taylors Eayre & Smith Ltd, Bell-founders are the largest bell-foundry in the world and one of only two in Britain. They have been casting bells here for over two hundred years and they cast the Great Paul bell in St Paul’s Cathedral, which at over 16 tonnes is the largest in the British Isles. The ancient Chinese were casting musical bells over 3,500 years ago. Our visit began in the museum where we were introduced to the wide variety of bells and bell making history.
Project Santa by David Marshall
David Marshall ( Derby Notts) gave an overview of Project Santa and solicited support from all Branches.
Association Secretary – Capt Andy Anderson gave an overview of the Branch reports which generally showed Branches to be in good heart and following an interesting and diverse programme of events and activities. He followed that by a review of the 2008 Annual reunion which was agreed to have been a success with a few reservations regarding the organisation of Saturday’s breakfast and the price / quality of wines. He explained that there had been a £21,000 overspend due to accommodation & meals which had been pre-booked but subsequently not taken up.There then followed a discussion of the merits of various venues in Scotland for the 2009 reunion..
Brig (Retd) Jim Drew CBE (Chairman of the Executive Committee) opened the meeting and thanked delegates for their attendance. After apologies were noted, the minutes of the previous meeting were approved with 1 amendment.
Actions arising were addressed next which included adjustment of the annual reporting cycle to be from 1 July – 30 June; notification of Branches to apply for recruiting grants (Derby/Notts had done this prior to the meeting and had received their grant); notes on etiquette were to be printed on Reunion tickets; wishes passed to Director of Music; feedback on (Derby/Notts) Welfare records proposals was still outstanding; good response to marchers for the Cenotaph Remembrance Parade.
Annual Branch Delegates Conference
Bailleul Sgts’ Mess – 5th July 2008
After we had left the dining room, Tony Bunce and Dusty Miller ran a highly successful raffle where the first prize was a DAB Radio.All the subsequent reports that were made both formally and informally, indicated that the evening had been a resounding success and everyone who had attended, had thoroughly enjoyed our major annual event.

As always thanks are given to all the volunteers who helped set the room up prior to the dinner and to issue the challenge for the 2009 dinner – follow that!!
We managed a success rate of just less than a 50% on our invitations with the Camp Commandant, Adjutant and their wives having previous engagements. Fred Brunger felt he could not turn down a trip to the Caribbean, and apologised for declining the invitation (very strange??).
Planning began in earnest in early June for the 2008 Annual Dinner. David Marshall (Dinner Secretary) met with the Mess Manager of the WOs’ and Sgts’ Mess and the Station RSM to discuss our return to use the Mess facility for our Annual Dinner.Thanks to the generosity of the RSM and his Mess Committee we were offered a grant to the Branch, this kind gesture enabled use to confirm our booking for November 14th.

Branch members were the guests of Jaguar Cars, courtesy of Stratstone Jaguar in Derby, where one of the members had bought a new car. Stratstone very kindly provided a coach to take 19 members to the factory in Castle Bromwich.On arrival, we were given an introductory presentation which highlighted the strong links between the factory and the military. These links dated back to the days of World War II when Spitfire and Lancaster aircraft had rolled off the production lines.

Nowadays however, the facility is the home of the latest in the range of Jaguar Cars – the XF which had recently been introduced into service amid much press acclaim.

After a video outlining the design and marketing philosophy behind the car, we were escorted in two parties around the plant. We saw all aspects of vehicle production from creation of the body through assembly of the drive train and the final assembly of the car.

At the conclusion of the tour we were given time to look around the 2 display models in the showroom and to peruse items in the shop for those who wished to take home a souvenir of their visit.
We could not have achieved so much without the efforts of the committee members to provide competent management of funds and the provision of entertaining and enjoyable social events, plus our ability to deal swiftly and efficiently with Welfare issues. We will only maintain this success if we continue to give our wholehearted support to the Committee who, apart from Eric, have agreed to stand again for re-election.
It is traditional that the Branch Chairman asks the President to continue for a further year in office; I am delighted to announce that John has accepted. It is an appropriate time to again thank him and Dorothy for their hospitality at the social activities and also Committee meetings. Our thanks too you both!
David Marshall has again managed our finances in a proficient manner and has successfully transferred our bank account to one that bears us some interest, an achievement in the current financial climate. As you will see from his report, you will agree that we continue to be in sound shape.
At every Branch meeting and social get together, we have had a raffle in aid of Branch funds, a good deal of which gets spent on welfare or donations to benevolent funds. Thanks are due to Tony Bunce and his assistant Dusty Miller for organizing the raffles and also to members who have generously donated many suitable prizes.
On Remembrance Sunday many Branch members attended the ceremony at the memorial inside the barracks at Chilwell where wreaths were laid and then a service of remembrance in the surge hangar. Afterwards, the majority of Branch members retired to the Sgt’s Mess, to again enjoy their hospitality, for a curry lunch.
In October, Branch members attended the Corps Birthday commemoration at the National Memorial Arboretum. The weather was atrocious and we all got very wet, in particular the standard bearers who did not have the benefit of protective clothing. Despite the weather, the occasion was rewarding.
In June we manned a stall at Wollaton Park as part of the Armed Services Weekend. We had great support from the general public for our “Lucky Dip” and children’s colouring competition as well as advertising the activities of the Branch and the Association. We managed to raise just over £320 clear profit and, following a vote by members, we made a contribution of £350 to our chosen charity, St Dunstan’s, who support blind and partially sighted servicemen. Indeed, one of our new members, Cpl Steve Shepherd, is a member of St Dunstan’s and he attends most Branch meetings with his guide dog Stanley, who appropriately wore a REME bow tie for the presentation of the cheque for St Dunstan’s. Steve and Stanley were on parade at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday and members heard about their experiences at the December Branch meeting.
We must give thanks to Eric Chamberlain for managing our social calendar. Eric has now stood down from the Committee and we are still looking for one or more volunteers to help the other members of the committee maintain an equally enjoyable programme.
As with any organisation with a predominance of senior citizens, there will be some members whose health fails them and we have sadly lost several members due to illness. Branch members attended the funerals of the following Corps and ex-Corps colleagues: Col (Retd) Davies; Jack Lund; Glen Else; Cpl Thomas REME, a serving soldier killed on operations; Cyril Plant; Bill Andrews ; John Straw. A moment of reflection in their memory would be appropriate.
2010 has been another year when the Branch has performed to the high standards it set itself in previous years. Our monthly Branch meetings continue to be well attended by both full members and several wives and, as ever, we have maintained a good balance between formal business and a good social atmosphere; this does credit to the ethos of fostering the esprit de corps of REME.
This would be an appropriate juncture to introduce myself to those who have not met me. I am Ian Lawrence and was elected as Chairman to replace Brian. I retired from the Army as a Major in 2003 after 34 years commissioned service in REME. After working as a contractor for the MOD for several years, I moved to Newark on Trent and retired fully. I have now been a branch member for 4 years.

Annual Report for 2010
Congratulations are due to John Woodall, our President, for being elected as the Midland Area Representative of the REME Association.
Our successful year would not have been possible without the efforts of the Committee,Standard Bearer and Bugler and thanks are due to them all and other members and ladies who gave their assistance.
2011 is the first year we have presented the John Law Award for Services to the Branch during the year. This year’s award was presented at the annual dinner by the President to Trish Woods, partly for her support of her husband Keith as Standard Bearer but also for her efforts in catering at our social events. Her name has been engraved on the award, which she will retain for a year and she has also been given a small version of the award for her to keep in perpetuity.
Our formal annual dinner in the WO’s andSgt’s Mess at Chilwell was better attended than last year and our principal guests were DEME(A), The Station RSM and Fred Brunger, in-pensioner from the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Unfortunately,the Station Adjutant, who is retiring and the New Station Commander were unable to accept our invitation due to other engagements. However,we have subsequently been able to show our hospitality through a silver service lunch with the committee. One innovation at this year’s dinner was having live music provided by the Derby ACF Band. They provided music to accompany us into dinner, incidental music throughout the meal, the National Anthem for the Loyal Toasts and Regimental marches before the speeches. This was so well received that we plan to use them again in the future.
Our Chairman’s Report 7th February 2012
2007 saw a full program of activities for members of the Derby / Nottingham Branch of the REME Association, with, hopefully, something to appeal to all tastes.
The first visit we made was in March to Bentley Motors in Crewe where we were shown the production line from start to finish and also visited the customisation shop where individual aspects of a customer’s car ranging from David Beckham’s matching leather child seat to a head of state’s armour plating is planned. Lunch afterwards saw most of the party head to the Bhurtpore Hotel which serves a very fine curry as well as real ales.
May saw not only our Annual Barbeque at John & Dorothy Woodall’s home for which we were blessed with superb weather but also our trip to Sutton Coldfield to visit BMW’s Engine Plant. This almost completely automated plant produces all BMW’s 4 cylinder petrol engines which fit into both the Mini and the 1 & 3 Series cars. This modern, environmentally friendly plant produces engines that are shipped all over the world.
July & August saw the Branch’s social program active again with a visit to Toyota’s manufacturing plant in Derby followed by a buffet lunch in the Rolls Royce Club. Despite a somewhat rainy day, the Wine & Cheese summer party (again held at John & Dorothy’s) was a tremendous success due to our having our own marquee. Everyone kept mostly dry and was thoroughly entertained by an aspiring Quizmaster in the form of our Chairman – Brian Ireland.
An Engineering Challenge from Birmingham Branch in September to build a self propelled vehicle prompted several members to attend the Birmingham meeting and watch Arthur Cundey snatch second prize from under their noses with his pocket rocket – well done Arthur. (We still reckon that closer scrutinising of the winning design would have given Arthur the winner’s trophy as there were a few loose interpretations of the rules suspected in the winning vehicle).
In early October, the branch was hosted on a tour of the Biffa Waste Disposal site in Cannock – this modern plant can process 200 vehicle loads of waste per day and uses methane from the decomposing waste to power a bank of generators which feed the National Grid with electricity.
The naming of the First Great Western train “The Corps of Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers” in mid-October saw 4 members of the Branch visit London for the day, where they joined a small group of serving and ex Corps members at the ceremony performed by our Colonel-in-Chief – HRH Prince Philip. It is a matter of pride within the Branch that this dedication was initiated by the Branch some 5 years ago and it was an honour to be invited to the naming ceremony.
In November, a large number of the Branch attended the Armistice Day Parade & Church service in Chetwynd Barracks before being the guests of the Sergeant’s Mess for a curry lunch. Later on that week saw the Branch’s Annual Dinner, held this year in Forester’s Hall when 87 members and their guests, including WO1 Fred Brunger from the Royal Hospital Chelsea, enjoyed a formal Mess dinner.
The year ended with our traditional Christmas Party, yet again at John & Dorothy’s, where we wound the year up with a superb buffet and some fine wines.
A very big thank you to all the committee and members for their hard work in making this itinerary of varied and interesting events possible – especially to Don & Sue Pringle & Eric & Molly Chamberlain who continue to think of original & stimulating events for us all and then organise and make things happen.
Branch Meetings
The Branch held a meeting every month during 2007, each of which was well supported with an average of 25 members and 6 ladies attending. Apart from discussing Branch business and enjoying a drink or two with old friends and refreshments, members willingly participated in the raffle (Thanks go to Tony Bunce & Dusty Miller who organised the raffles and to all members of the Branch and Committee who donated prizes to assist in our fund raising efforts.)
Welfare Program
One central pillar of Branch activity is a series of Welfare visits to members and widows. We do not have a specifically nominated Welfare Officer as we believe it is an integral function for all members of the Branch to offer whatever help they can to their fellow members. We have found this approach works very well with members popping round to see people who we know are unwell or in need of the occasional visit to check up they are doing OK. Other activities include planned series of visits to residents of nursing homes and hospitals and members calling for their colleagues who are unable to drive. We recently introduced a voluntary “Next Of Kin” notification form to assist the relevant authorities trace the relatives of individual members who may live alone and feel a need for that kind of “peace of mind”.