SPOTLIGHT – SPRING 2019

Chairman/Treasurer’sReport

We start with a new year and new faces on our Committee: Peter and Hazel Bishop who have kindly taken on some of our fund-raising load and Peter is our Representative on 455 (Morecambe & Heysham) Air Cadet Squadron, and John Bates who will help my treasurer activities. Many thanks to you all who in one way or another have supported us during the tremendous RAF100 year. It was all very hard work but worth it.

It is with sadness I have to report the loss of some ten good members who have passed away, and this reminds us of the need to find younger people to carry the Branch baton forward. I know many of you will join me in empathizing with our Life Vice President, Rev Canon Pithers, on the loss of his dear wife early this year: Margaret helped him over so many years in carrying out his responsibilities in his clerical and Branch committee life: she had a lovely, very dry sense of humour which we shall all miss.

As we sigh in relief with RAF100 over, it is now vital that we review our situation as a Branch. As I enter my eighties, Jane and I feel that we are reaching a turning point in our lives.

Last year Jane sent out an urgent call to all members for help to reduce our load: we received just three responses, two already on the Committee. This was most discouraging indeed: we need all the help we can get to continue supporting the Branch

We have become aware of possible changes within the RAF Association from a vote for each member on Annual Conference Resolutions and our branch losing its status as a separate charity to RAFA. We have yet to fully assess the impact of this. The changes may or may not reduce our administrative load: in my experience, centralisation rarely provides the benefits sought, ending up more costly in effort, money and an inability to control.

Extra effort will be required to introduce the changes which will start coming in around 2021 and these would add to Jane’s and my untenable workload. Taking this into account and the need to have more time for ourselves, we have decided to retire at the 2020 AGM. This will allow a fresh team to concentrate on migrating to the new structure. We are therefore reducing or off-loading where we can with the aim of having a seamless and simplified transfer.

Please, as our President has suggested, do look around for people, especially members, who would replace us. Northern Area Branch Support Officer, Marc Boyle, is actively supporting our President and Committee as they plan the future of the Branch.

Reflecting back over the years, I feel humble and grateful to all of those who put their hands deep in their pockets during the eight years Jane and I have been in office, especially in keeping the Branch alive during very lean early years. That money helped to provide much of the Reserves that will see the Branch through into the future. Therefore, if I appear to be zealously guarding our funds, I always am: allowing expenditure only where it can be fully justified within the constraints placed on us, as an independent charity, by the Charity Commission and RAFA Regulations. We owe it to those who personally financially helped us not to spend Branch money on legally dubious proposals or fritter it away on incidentals.

We had a wonderful last Christmas lunch at the Headway Hotel and said a sad goodbye to the General Manager, Paul Mitchell, and his staff. They have looked after us superbly over the last five years and especially during RAF100. At the end of lunch our President presented a certificate of Honorary Branch membership to Paul.

The transition to the Clarendon Hotel has gone very smoothly and we are now settling in very comfortably there.

This year I hope you will support our events and thereby encourage us to keep going: talks at the Clarendon Hotel at 1.45pm on the second Tuesday each month and again at Bare Village Club on the fourth Tuesday evening starting at 7.30pm from April to September, the Battle of Britain Service on 15thSeptember and Christmas Lunch. Let’s make it a year to remember as we bow out.

Looking at the Branch as a whole, we have a very friendly set of active members who enjoy each others’ presence at meetings and are willing to help in what small ways they are able: such as providing donations, buying raffle tickets and contributing prizes, subscribing to the Flutter Club, finding places for Wings Appeal collection tins, attending Collection Days in Morrisons or Tesco, participating in events and encouraging us by appreciating what we do. Thank you all of you: you mean everything to us.

Finances are in a good state but they have to be maintained in this way. Some of you will remember the 25% inflation we lived through in the early 70s: it was not nice. Unfortunately, we could face a similar situation in coming years, keeping Venezuela and Global Debt in mind. The Branch Reserves would be needed to cope with such an event: we can cope if we maintain our current good state.

According to RAFA regulations, all Branch activities have to be self-financing. Your Social Fund, which must be kept separate from the Branch Fund, contributes to the Sherry and Mince Pies social in January, the Buffet Supper after the September Branch meeting, and Christmas Lunch. We do provide small subsidies from your Social Fund to support other social events, when it is necessary. At year end, social fund surpluses will be fed back this year to members via the Flutter Club in more or better prizes or passed to the Branch Fund where it comes directly under governance regulations. This year will see the last of the Flutter Club so join even only for this year: you may get a bonus prize.

News of Members

Last year we said goodbye to the following members: Bill Ray; Anne Belford; Roger Winward; John Douglass; Gerry Haley; Brenda Osborne; Brian Cottam; Gordon Delves; Trevor Gilbert; Mr J H Ball; Ed Colley; Mr J Taggart. Already this year we have lost Roberta Mather, who was a stalwart helper with the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal as well as our own Wings Appeal, Ted Hartley a member for several years until quite recently, Margaret Pithers, wife of our Life Vice President, Canon Brian, and Dick Parker, one of the few remaining Kendal cluster members.

Forthcoming Events

As the Chairman has said, we will simplify the things we do this year so that the incoming Committee is “broken in gently”. We will participate in the West End Festival, Armed Forces Day and Morecambe Carnival; we will also arrange the Battle of Britain Service as usual. However we have decided to cancel the Morecambe Band concert: it requires a lot of effort to publicise and sell tickets and your Chairman and Secretary will be fully occupied getting ready to hand over to a new Committee. Added to that the Musical Director, Steve Simpson, is standing down in April so it is not possible to predict how that will affect our relationship with the Band.

Flutter Club

Winners of the Christmas draw were: 1stPrize, £125: D Haley; 2ndPrize, £100: J Baines; 3rdPrize, £75: R Latin; 4thPrize, £50: C Ryan; 5thPrize, £25: T Hooper. Although we will be closing the Club at the end of this year, there’s still time to join and perhaps win a prize! There will be draws in April, July, October and December and it still costs only £12 per quarter so contact the Secretary if you wish to join.

Wings Report

Thank you to those of you who have sourced places where we can site our collection tins; these contribute greatly to our final total. Please do offer your help with store collection days – it’s only an hour of your time and you will enjoy talking to lots of interesting people. Following the announcement of our total for 2018, we are pleased to report that another £179.40 has been added to that from the Spitfire event in Kendal. This makes our total up to £5,193.16 and the rebate from this will go to Richard Peck House.

2019 PROGRAMME OF EVENTS

Tues 9th Apr

Being Evacuated in World War II

– Pauline Sterritt Flutter Club draw

Clarendon Hotel, 1.45pm

Tues 23rdApr

Fish & Chips, Little Ships and North Sea Spray – Gordon Bartley

Bare Village Club, 7.30pm

Tues 14thMay

Testing Britain’s Nuclear Deterrent: 1952-58 – Roger Carter

Clarendon Hotel, 1.45pm

Tues 28thMay

Daft I Call It: Life on the Road with Mr ‘Ardin’ – Steve Swithin

Bare Village Club, 7.30pm

Tues 11thJun

Branch Meeting & Flutter Club draw

Clarendon Hotel, 1.45pm

Tues 25thJun

The History of the Saxophone

– Bob Pickersgill

Bare Village Club, 7.30pm

Sat 29thJun

Armed Forces Day

Morecambe Promenade

Tues 9th Jul

North West Blood Bikes – Nigel Parrish

Clarendon Hotel, 1.45pm

Sat 13thJul

West End Festival

Regent Park, 12.00 – 4.00

Tues 23rd Jul

The Story So Far – Stuart Robinson

Bare Village Club, 7.30pm

Sat 10th& Sun 11thAug

Morecambe Carnival

Morecambe Promenade

Tues 13thAug

A Tram Ride from Fleetwood to Lytham in 1913 – Dick Gillingham

Clarendon Hotel, 1.45pm

Tues 27thAug

My Family & The Three Services

Clive Jones

Bare Village Club, 7.30pm

Tues 10thSept

Gasping for Breath in the Himalayas

– Norman Harris

Clarendon Hotel, 1.45pm

Sun 15thSept

Battle of Britain Service

St Barnabas Church, Regent Rd, Morecambe 6.30 pm

Tues 24thSept

Branch Meeting & Supper

Bare Village Club, 7.30pm

Tues 8th Oct

RAF Heraldry – John Dugdale

Flutter Club draw

Clarendon Hotel, 1.45pm

Tues 12thNov

There’ll Always Be An England – Jane Latin

Clarendon Hotel, 1.45pm

Tues 10thDec

Christmas Lunch Flutter Club draw

Clarendon Hotel, 12.00 noon

For our second Tuesday meetings some of us gather for lunch at the Clarendon Hotel before the talk. If you wish to join us please contact the Secretary on 01524 412987 by the Thursday prior to the meeting to book a place. Lunch is at 12.15 pm and the meeting afterwards begins at 1.45 pm.

Welfare Officer

David Hodgson Tel: 07446 616608 or Email: davidhodgson19@icloud.com

Chaplain

Fr Michael Childs Tel: 01524 415216 or Email: westendpriest@gmail.com

For any information about the Association or Branch activities, please contact the Secretary:

Email:rafamlsec@gmail.com