Annual Report published in the Gazette 2014 Issue No. 4
PRESIDENT: Major General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter KCVO., OBE.
VICE PRESIDENTS: Lt Col The Lord Wigram, MC: Lt Col ET Bolitho MBE; Lt Col P.E. Hills FLCM, psm; Lt Col LCA Ranson, TD; Maj JA Sandison, MBE, QMG; Capt JW Walker; DT Griffiths Esq; J Frost Esq; Lt Col R Dorney, MBE; C Savage Esq.; K Jones Esq.
CHAIRMAN: Mr C Savage
SECRETARY: Mr M Allen, 51 Vowles Close, Wraxall, Bristol, BS48 1PP Tel. (07500) 822519
WEBMASTER: Mr RL Cox
TREASURER: Mr AF Lock
MEETINGS: Committee meeting will be held at 15.30hrs on the last Sunday of each month (Excluding January & August) in the: -
Officers Mess, The Royal Artillery Grounds, Whiteladies Road, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 2LG
2013 began in glorious fashion for the Bristol Branch when on a splendid Spring afternoon in April, the Branch Skittle tea m under the Captaincy of Mike O'Gorman inflicted a crushing defeat upon the Bristol Branch of the Coldstream Guards Association in the Annual St George's Cup skittles match at the Port of Bristol social club in Shirehampton.
Having lost the cup to the Coldstreamer's in 2012 the Grenadier team was under immense pressure as defeat was most certainly not an option. The Grenadier's won every Set of the match bar one and Brian Womack top scored for the Branch with a magnificent score of Thirty Five. The Coldstreamer's were nothing but magnanimous in defeat and warmly applauded a fine Grenadier victory, and of course we wish the Coldstreamer's the very best of luck in 2014. The Buffet that was laid on was first rate and with the extremely reasonable bar prices at the PBA club a very enjoyable afternoon was had by all attending. Well done to Mike and the Team and we look forward to the 2014 competition when we again hope to see the Coldstreamer's sent home with their tails between their legs.
The first excursion 'up the M4' to London for the Branch came on May 19th when a nearly full coach departed Bristol for Regimental Remembrance Day. We are delighted to report that numbers attending this event are up considerably on recent years and we are hoping that this trend continues. As in recent years, we arrived in London quite early in the day to allow Branch Members ample time to seek out suitable lunch venues before the formalities of the afternoon began, most Branch Members repaired to the local Weatherspoons establishment on Whitehall and reported back on the very reasonable prices at this establishment. You may recall in last years Branch report that Chris Quinlan had represented the Bristol Branch as Colour Point for the 2011 Parade, this meant that Chris was to fulfil the duties of Wreath Bearer in this years Parade and what a splendid job he did, Chris looked every inch the ex L/Sgt on Horse Guards Parade, a huge well done to Chris who represented the Branch with immense style and panache. After the service in the Guards Chapel most Branch Members repaired to the Garrison Sergeants Mess to avail themselves of the very comfortable hospitality that is found within, along with extremely generous Bar Prices. On the return to Bristol we were once again made extremely welcome for a Fish and Chip supper by the Windsor Branch at their clubhouse just off the M4 in Windsor, this arrangement has become very popular with the Branch Members and will continue in 2014. Many thanks to Bob Gilbert and the Windsor Branch Committee and Branch Members for extending such a warm welcome to us.
The highlight of the year for most Branch Members was Her Majesty's Grenadier Day at Buckingham Palace on June 26th two full coaches departed Bristol on a glorious Wednesday morning, it was widely acknowledged that running two coaches to an event was unprecedented in recent Branch history and the Branch Treasurer, Tony Lock was heard to mutter that there was “nothing like a garden party to get them out the woodwork”. After a brief diversion to collect Branch Members from Swindon both coaches met up at Reading Services and travelled the remainder of the journey in convoy into London. Upon arrival in London Branch Members dispersed to find lunch venues before the Palace gates opened to allow us admission, it is rumoured that the Wetherspoons establishment on Whitehall once again benefited enormously from this arrangement.
All attending thoroughly enjoyed the formal proceedings of the Afternoon and agreed to a man that the inspection of the Queens Company and the presentation of the new Colours to Nijmegen Company were both a spectacle to behold and many commented on how fortunate they were to be able to witness such a magnificent parade in such a setting as the Grounds of Buckingham Palace. After the formalities of the Parade Branch Members were able to mingle informally and enjoy Her Majesty's hospitality at the Garden Party which her Majesty had 'laid on' to commemorate the Association Centenary. The one disappointment of the afternoon was that the Colonel, His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh was unable to attend, despite this disappointment all attending had a fantastic day and one or two Branch Members had the distinct honour of being presented to Her Majesty. After a very long and tiring day both coaches headed home along the M4, both full of slumbering Branch Members.
The next event on the 2013 Branch calendar arrived on a splendid Sunday Afternoon in August when the Branch Chairman, Chris Savage and his good Lady Hilary threw open the doors of their home in Frenchay and invited some forty Branch Members to join them for an afternoon Garden Party. As one would expect from the ex Regimental Sergeant Major the hospitality afforded was second to none, the first rate rations and liquid refreshment were most certainly in abundance and all attending had a most memorable afternoon. The Branch would like to extend its thanks to Hilary and Chris for their tremendous hospitality and also inform them that we look forward to seeing this event repeated on next years calendar.
2013 was proving to be a very busy year for the Branch and on a glorious Sunday in early October some Twenty Four Branch members departed Bristol on a joint trip with the Bristol Branch of the Coldstream Guards Association to the Imperial War Museum in London. The Branch Secretary had made arrangements for breakfast to be taken at the Beefeater Restaurant just off the M4 at Swindon, this arrangement proved to be very popular as Branch Members could avail themselves of the extensive breakfast menu which included Fresh Fruit, Cereals, Juices, Toast, croissants, a full cooked selection and unlimited Tea and Coffee for a very reasonable £8.25 per person. It has since been decided that this arrangement will be included in future excursions to London. Those attending this trip had several hours at leisure to explore the Imperial War Museum which proved to be a fascinating destination, afterwards we retired to the Union Jack Club in Waterloo for a couple of hours relaxation before the journey home to Bristol. Some Branch Members had not visited the Union Jack Club before and were very impressed with the facilities on offer, most took full advantage of the very reasonably priced bar and bar meal prices, upon leaving the club several Branch Members stated that they were extremely impressed with the facilities therein and said that they intended to join the club as soon as possible. The Union Jack Club is a members only club which is available to all ex servicemen, the annual subscription is very reasonable and the facilities on offer are first class. The club boasts an excellent restaurant the bedrooms are of an exceptionally high standard and the welcome extended to members is unparalleled.
The Branch Annual Dinner was held in Mid October at the now customary venue of the Royal Artillery Grounds in Clifton. Last year saw a near record turnout for the Dinner and nearly one hundred Branch Members sat down to an excellent meal, we were delighted to welcome as our guest Colonel E H Houstoun OBE, President of the Grenadier Guards Association. Branch Members travelled from far and wide for the Dinner, some made the long journey from Cornwall, some travelled from Birmingham, a contingent came from Swindon and Sgt James Thompson and his good Lady, Emma, made the arduous trip up the M4 from Aldershot however the Long Distance traveller award must surely go to Mary Roach who travelled from her home in Alicante, Spain to attend the Dinner, a fantastic effort by anyone's standard. After the Dinner Service the Branch President, Major General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter KCVO, OBE, thanked all those who had travelled long distances to attend and said how delighted he was that Colonel Houstoun was able to attend, Sir Evelyn explained that after ten years of being the President of the Association Colonel Houstoun was standing down at the end of 2013. The Bristol Branch would wish Colonel Houstoun a very relaxing retirement and extend our grateful thanks for his unswerving commitment to the Association over the past ten years. After the formalities of the speeches the Branch Secretary conducted the prize draw, the Branch President pulled the first ticket out of the hat and to the dismay of all the Secretary revealed that it belonged to one of the attending Coldstreamer's, The Branch Chairman was heard to say that after losing the St Georges Cup in such spectacular fashion earlier in the year it was only fair that they won something. The Dinner was a huge success and our thanks go to WO2 Alan Chick and his team for their hard work in ensuring that the evening ran so smoothly.
Whilst 2013 was a hugely successful year for the Bristol Branch we have extremely high expectations of 2014 the Centenary year for the Branch, plans are well under way for a spectacular Centenary Dinner in the Autumn and we would be delighted to see new faces from within the Branch joining in with the celebrations. During 2013 our Branch Vice-Chairman of many Years, Paul Lawday stood down, due to his heavy workload and other commitments Paul had found it increasingly difficult to attend Branch events and Meetings and decided that stepping down from his post was the best course of action for the Branch, the Bristol Branch extends its thanks to Paul for the Years of commitment that he has given the Branch, in his place we welcome Paul's successor Peter Finch, Peter has already cut his teeth as Vice-Chairman by Chairing several Branch Committee meetings and we are delighted to report that he is shaping up rather well.
In closing this years Branch report it is our sad duty to report the passing of Bristol Branch Member 2624427 EH (Ted) George.
The Bristol Branch extends its grateful thanks to all at Regimental Headquarters whose tremendous hard work keep the Association on an even keel.