National Council Members Page

No 4 Area
(The South West Flotilla)

National Council Member’s Report,
Enhanced post Area Meeting 18th May 2019 at Bodmin.


As your elected representative on the National Council, it is important that I keep you informed as early as possible regarding conclusions made at our meetings, however ever mindful that in some cases final ratification may not be until a future meeting. My interim Report dispatched just after the last NC meeting held on Friday 8th March, created the opportunity for members to raise questions at the Area meeting. Fortunately silence prevailed.

Area 4 members will be a bit thin on the ground at the Wyboston National Conference, however this should not preclude you from being aware of any important items on the Agenda. Area Secretary Alan recently sent on my behalf the Trustees Report to National Conference, Statement of Accounts for the last year and only a matter of a few days before the Area meeting a brief relating to Central membership, identifying the conclusions of the Study Group. The Trustees Report is certainly enlightening and puts members in the picture regarding a diverse range of members activities, Financial Review, Future Plans and statistics identifying the contraction and decay of so many branches due to what can be termed the ‘Anno Domini’ effect.

Our Association has no choice but to adopt all the advantages of new technology, the 21st Century Matelot is to a great extent on a different wavelength to many and for the Association to survive we have to accept change and creativity that seems hostile to a significant majority of distant ex-serving.

I cannot be sure how many of you have seen a copy of the Central membership Study Group conclusions that will be presented to Conference in response to a Branch Motion at last year’s Conference. There were one or two concerns raised at the Committee meeting preceding our Area meeting. One of the major concerns still appears to relate to the autonomy of Branches, their ability to maintain control of all aspects relating to membership subscriptions such as Cash payments, cheques and indication of BACS payments etc.

There is always an element of doubt surrounding work in progress, however on a personal note I have confidence that the outcome will satisfy the concerns of Branches. A new and suitable data base, competent data input, Branch Secretary access to the data base, appropriate confidentiality and more effective communication can only engender a positive outcome.

There were other unrelated concerns which I will follow up, one a Branch disappointment that a unique event involving a Japanese Petty Officer’s memorial service was never published in the Semaphore Circular when it was felt to be newsworthy, unusual and would be of Association national interest.

As at 1st May, only 48 delegates had registered for this year’s National Conference in Wyboston. No doubt you have reached a conclusion as to the reason for the worst attendance at a Conference ever, I do not propose to state my own views but feel confident we all think alike on the issue.

One item on the Conference agenda that may prove interesting is the presentation by S/m Gary Booth (RNA Recruitment and Retention Adviser) on the role and support available to Branches. Our Shipmate has a formidable task when you view the statistics in the 2018 membership matrix in the Trustees Report and you will appreciate that this issue is far from being a soft touch. The one word that stands out is ‘retention’. As mentioned earlier, present day service personnel and more recent ex-serving are a different ‘ball game’ and the primary question to consider may well be – “How should a Branch finding it difficult to recruit change its modus operandi to ensure the long-term interest of more youthful ex-Sailors”?

Area 4 has the largest membership in the RNA and the loss of twenty branches nationally last year identifies the trend that confronts the Association. Our Area at year end 2018 indicates 1187 members across the membership spectrum with a loss of 0.6%. Compared to Area 1 (London) 26%, Area 12 (Northern Ireland and Eire) 50%, the South West climate seems to have some advantages.

When you consider the size of our Area, ‘a two-day Camel ride’ from end to end (190 miles distance by road from Christchurch to Falmouth) we certainly have enthusiastic and dedicated shipmates in Area 4. Worthy of note: Year 2001 RNA had in the region of 17,000 ex- serving in the Association, 15,000 Associate members. Last year end 6,521 ex-serving, 5,085 Associates. Shipmates we cannot deny the advantages of the Web, the prime and only opportunity for long term survival.

The May Semaphore Circular informs that 2020 is the 50th Anniversary of the end of the Rum issue. With the support of ‘Pussers’ Rum and the RNRMC an appropriate celebration ‘thrash’ will take place on HMS Belfast. On 30th July next there will be a “dry run” for the following year’s event, a 3-course luncheon in HMS Belfast including “Up Spirits!”. Each Area has been allocated 4 tickets each and I personally have no idea how many shipmates have applied, keep in mind that the 4 tickets include spouses/carers. Lunch is all kindly paid by the sponsors and the RNA will offer a contribution towards travel expenses for members, capped at £50. Unless in exceptional circumstances, there is no funding budgeted for overnight accommodation. On the day, HMS Belfast will be open from 1200 for a 1230 start, members attending are encouraged to wear RNA rig. The meal concludes with a talk from the Ship’s Yeoman, for those who wish, a tour of the ship. Closing Date close of play Monday 10 June, notify Central Office if interested.

Extracts from my NCM Report sent last March:                                                                                                                                                           
Branch Closures. National Branch Recruitment and Retention Advisor (NBRRA) is issuing guidance to make branches aware of all the issues they should address, support available, to facilitate continuity of vulnerable branches.                                                 

IMC Summer Camp primarily for the benefit of Sea Cadets but it seems few Units are aware of the opportunities available.  Funding available from the RNA would enable Cadets to attend where cost is a barrier. GS will liaise with SCC HQ to ensure distribution of IMC Sailing Camp information to all Sea Cadet Units.                        

National Events Advisor informed that the budget allocation for ‘Gizzets’ this year is £4k. This equates to £307 for each Area and it was suggested that it would only cover AFD as an Area event. Evidently there have been about 21 applications to date from branches.

National Charter and Bye-Laws Advisor identified inconsistencies which have now been amended but result in no significant changes.

Minibus Dispersal. Belfast Branch would like an RNA mini bus. Initially agreed that vehicles would move periodically and therefore current locations were therefore temporary. GS to capture mileage and gauge usage so far, compare mileage and consider rotation. Ongoing- Proposal being considered.

Shipmates Smile, Conference at Liverpool next year.   2 nights £130, 3 nights £168, 4 nights £198 per person. Dinner, Bed & Breakfast, includes Gala Dinner.

Subject to a successful Conference Motion, National Conference 2021 will be held at the Britannia Hotel, Nottingham.

Arthur Gutteridge BEM                                                                                                                                                                
NCM 4/RNA PLYMOUTH