Annual Report published in the Gazette 2015 Issue No. 38

PRESIDENT:  Major General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter KCVO., OBE.

VICE PRESIDENTS: Lt Col The Lord Wigram, MC: Lt Col ET Bolitho OBE Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall; Lt Col P.E. Hills FLCM, PSM; Lt Col LCA Ranson, TD;  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

 

Email: bristolbranch@grengds.com

WEBSITE: www.bristolgrenadiers.org

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 - (This venue is now not used - please see our contact page for the change)

2014 began in a most sombre fashion for the Bristol Branch, at the beginning of March with great sadness we recorded the passing of our dear friend and Branch stalwart 23382734 Lance Cambridge. Lance had been a driving behind the Bristol Branch for many years, always one of the first to volunteer when help was required whether it be helping to set the tables  for the Branch dinner or visiting a fellow Grenadier who was in need of assistance. Lance would be there. It is testament to the man that approximately 500 mourners attended his funeral at Westerleigh Crematorium, so great were the number of mourners that not all could fit into the crematorium's chapel and the chapel had to be relayed on loudspeakers outside. Among the mourners were some 40 Grenadiers who formed a Guard of Honour at the entrance. Lance, who outlived his brother and fellow Grenadier Ray by four years, will be sadly missed as well as the bread pudding he regularly brought to Branch Meetings; an impeccable Grenadier, Lest We Forget.

The sombre mood within the Branch continued into April when on Saturday 19th the Branch suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Bristol Branch of the Coldstream Guards Association at the annual St George's Cup skittles match. The Coldstreamers were victorious in all but one of the eight sets and deservedly won the trophy.

The Grenadier team captained this year by Roy Godwin sorely missed Lance Cambridge, a keen skittler who had played the game for many years and who had thrived at this occasion in the past. It was decided later in the year, by the Branch Committee to commission a shield to be presented to the highest individual Branch scorer at the competition, in recognition of Lance's love of the game and to honour his commitment to the Bristol Branch over many years, this shield would be named The Cambridge Memorial Shield. The shield was presented to Peter Ogden at the Branch dinner in October for his fantastic score of 38. The skittles team look forward to April 2015 when they will be under immense pressure to regain the cup as no team has ever lost two years in succession. We encourage all Branch members to come along and support the Branch team at the Port of Bristol Sports and Social Club in Shirehampton, there is a complimentary buffet laid on, the bar prices at the venue are subsidised and there are ample grounds for a children's play area. The date for the 2015 competition will be announced in the 2015 Branch newsletter.

The mood of the Branch lifted in mid-May when a nearly full coach departed Bristol for the annual run up the M4 for Regimental Remembrance Day. As is becoming the custom for the day we exited the motorway at Swindon to avail ourselves of the hospitality of the Beefeater Grill and Restaurant at Lydiard Fields who did not disappoint with the standard of breakfast available to the Branch Members, all present commented on both the excellent quality of food and the very high standard of service. This stopover is now a firm favourite with Branch Members as it means that the search for refreshment upon arrival in central London is no longer necessary thus allowing our attending members  more time to take in the uniquely Grenadier ambience of the day. After an hour's respite and having collected our Branch members from Swindon we continued into London where upon arrival in Birdcage Walk most of our members repaired to the Garrison Sergeants' Mess to not only take full advantage of the extremely reasonable bar prices but also to seek out friends and former comrades of other Branches. The formalities of the day, as one would expect, were executed to the highest standard with a large number from the Bristol Branch joining the parade and marching to the Guards Memorial on Horse Guards to lay the Association wreath. After the parade we again availed ourselves of the hospitality of the Sergeants' Mess whilst waiting for our coach to arrive for the journey home, of course this journey home would not be in keeping with tradition if we did not stop at Windsor for a fish and chip supper, again by arrangement of the Windsor Branch, this refreshment stop is now very popular with those Branch Members who regularly attend Regimental Remembrance day and along with the Breakfast stop earlier in the day will be included in the 2015 itinerary. The Bristol Branch extends its thanks and gratitude to Bob Gilbert and the Windsor Branch for their hard work in arranging the supper and for making us all so welcome.

Our mood lifted further in mid-July when again we set off from Bristol for the journey to Aldershot for Grenadier Day, which as usual did not disappoint. In the absence of the Branch Secretary the Branch cider stall was taken to Aldershot by Mike O'Gorman and Roy Godwin who did a fantastic job getting everything ready for the arrival of of the Branch coach. As soon as the stall was assembled and ready for business, Mike and Roy found that our cider was quite popular and a queue had started to form, unfortunately the plastic glasses were on board the coach, and after some frantic phone calls the Branch 'advance party' realised that the coach, now bogged down in traffic due to the Farnborough Air Show would be quite some time in arriving and that this jeopardise our early sales.

After some exhaustive but fruitless searching for replacement tumblers by Mike and Roy a saviour emerged in the form of C/Sgt (CQMS) James Thompson who not only found some tumblers within minutes but also assisted Mike and Roy on the stall until the arrival of the Branch coach. This timely assistance from the 'Pay Bloke' certainly saved the day for us and we would extend our grateful thanks to James for his help. Cider sales on the day were brisk and we nearly sold out of the stock that we brought, this is not only fantastic news for the Branch Treasurer, Tony Lock who is constantly worrying over the Branch accounts, but also for the wider membership of the Branch as it proves that our cider stall is as popular as ever at the event and gives us encouragement to continue with our efforts in the future. Unfortunately the team that we entered into the Boyton Cup competition did not fare too well, but this disappointment spurs us to  greater efforts in 2016 which we look forward to immensely.

 After a fairly quite period for the Branch during the Autumn we looked forward to our Branch dinner in October, the preparations for which had not run smoothly for the Committee, we had, in the Branch newsletter distributed earlier in the year advertised that this as being the Branch Centenary dinner which was to be held amid celebrations of the 100th Anniversary of the Bristol Branch. However some documentation was presented to the Branch Committee by our Branch President Major General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter KCVO., OBE that conclusively proved that the Branch was in fact officially formed in 1919, after the Great War. This information is somewhat at odds with the information that is displayed on the Regimental website which states that the Bristol Branch, among others was formed in 1914. The documentation presented by the Branch President was most compelling and led to much discussion at Branch Committee meetings, it has now been accepted by the Committee that 1919 is undoubtedly the date of the formation of the Bristol Branch and the likelihood is, that in 1914 a number of Grenadiers started meeting informally in the area. With this matter now resolved we proceeded with our plans for the dinner which would now be a 'normal' Branch Annual Dinner.

Having held our previous four dinners at the Royal Artillery Grounds on Whiteladies Road in Bristol, the Committee felt it was tine for a change of venue and early in the year started seeking suitable venues, this was a subject that again warranted much discussion at the Branch Committee meetings and it was finally decided that we should take advantage of the offer made to us by the Holiday Inn at Filton, Bristol. This proved to be a very wise decision by the Branch Committee as on 26th October we held one of the most successful in recent Branch History. The dinner was, as always hosted by the Branch President Major-General-Carter KCVO,. OBE and gracious Lady Celia Web-Carter. We were delighted to welcome Branch Members from as far afield as Southampton, our magnificent webmaster Roy Cox and his charming wife June; from Portsmouth the well travelled Stan and Dorothy Tucker; from Birmingham the ever present Dave Scolding and from the Battalion in Aldershot we were graced with the company of C/Sgt (CQMS) James Thompson and his delightful wife Emma.

Our Branch Chairman, Chris Savage through his role with working for the MOD had secured the services of Major Simon Gordon-Lennox as our guest speaker for the evening, Major Gordon-Lennox did a stirling job of not only updating us on Battalion affairs, but had also done some considerable homework on the current affairs of the Coldstream Guards and was able to update the dozen or so members present from the Bristol Branch of the Coldstream Guards Association, whilst on the subject of the Coldstream Guards Association, we were honoured to welcome to our top table their Branch President Colonel Martin Sommervell OBE. The Branch would extend its grateful thanks to our Vice-President Lieutenant-Colonel Skid Dorney MBE for not only finding the time to fit our dinner into his hectic schedule but also for donating two copies of his book "The Killing Zone" to our raffle on the evening. It also gave us great pleasure to welcome our Life Vice President, Lieutenant-Colonel the Lord Wigram MC., JP., DL to the dinner in this his 99th year.

Following discussions with Regimental Headquarters earlier in the year we were honoured and delighted to have present, L/Sgt Matt Shaw and Gdsm Scott Rose in bearskins and tunics to welcome guests as they arrived, this added to the occasion immensely and we are grateful to the staff at RHQ for allowing us this privilege. The standard of both the food and the service was extremely good and after the formalities of the speeches the Cambridge Memorial Shield was presented to Peter Ogden for his score at the St George's Cup earlier this year, by Lance Cambridge's daughter Beverley. At the end of the dinner a number of Branch members retired to the rooms that had been booked on the discounted rte afforded to us by the Hotel, this not only negated the need to drive home but also allowed us to meet up for breakfast the next morning.  The dinner proved to be a resounding success with all present having an enjoyable evening and all agreeing that we should return to the same venue next year.

During 2014 the Bristol Branch engaged in fundraising for the VC Trust, a charity based in Doncaster, Yorkshire. The VC Trust is a registered charity that renovates the graves that have fallen into disrepair of those that have been awarded the Victoria Cross. The majority of these graves are of those that have left Military service and returned to civilian life, those that were killed or died whilst on military service come under the remit of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. This is a vast undertaking by the charity as there are many such graves that warrant their attention and we are proud to have done our little bit to assist with their tremendous effort.

Numerous Branch Members made personal donations and we tirelessly advertise on behalf of the VC Trust on our Twitter feed and Face Book to the wider Grenadier Community, it should however be noted that one of our Branch members took this to heart and single-handedly raised the majority of the money that was donated; stand up and take a bow 25229976 Chris Mellor.

Chris decided to run in a number of events throughout the year on behalf of the VC Trust which included the Skyline 10km, the Bristol 10km, the Frenchay 10km, the Cheddar George 10km, the Roman Bath 10km, the Reading half marathon, the Laycock  Abbey 10km, the Bath Festival 10km, the Bath Tunnels 10km and the Dyrham Park 10km. Towards the end of the year Chris wrote to the Branch to apologise for their being so many 10km runs and explained that he would have liked to have competed in more full marathons but had been carrying quite a serious knee injury all year and that this had limited him somewhat. Despite this injury Chris was able to compete in the Clifton Chilli Eating competition in Novemeber where we understand he did very well.

As 2014 drew to a close for the Bristol Branch the sombre mood that prevailed earlier in the year returned in November, when on the 19th, fittingly remembrance day, we recorded the passing of 22032295 Laurence C Allen. Laurie was an ex 3rd Battalion man who had served with the regiment during the Malayan emergency, he was extremely proud of his Grenadier roots and had served on the Branch Committee for a great number of years but due to his failing health had ranch events in recent years. Laurie's funeral, held in Weston-super-Mare, was very well attended by the Branch and we provided a Guard of Honour for the procession into the Chapel. Branch member Chris Quilan carried the Branch Banner ands all mourners wore Red Poppies to commemorate the date of Laurie's passing. His meticulous attention to detail will be sadly missed. Lest we forget.