|Last updated on 08th April 2012 / 22.00 h
South East and Eastern Area Annual Conference
South Downs Resort Bracklesham Bay
30th March – 1st April 2012
Most delegates and their partners gathered on Friday evening for Dinner followed by dancing and a very entertaining cabaret.
After breakfast on the Saturday the Conference commenced with the Ceremonial Entry of Area Standard, official dedication and a welcome by Chairman of Conference Air Commodore N.T. Carter OBE MA. We then had an excellent talk and debate by the Secretary General Jane Easton followed by an Address by Air Marshall Dusty Miller KBE Association President.
After Consideration and adoption of the Chairman’s report and the formal election of the President and the Presidential awards the Conference adjourned for lunch.
The afternoon started with another excellent talk by Group Captain M.D.Heffron FCMI RAF Station Commander RAF High Wycombe. This was a very comprehensive talk on the history of RAF High Wycombe from its early beginnings to the present day. Because of the changes in a much reduced Air Force their area of responsibilities has meant more work rather than less, this has certainly been the case at High Wycombe. The talk was accompanied with slides throughout these showing the changes and responsibilities of this “Premier” station. The word “Premier” was used a number of times by the station commander obviously very proud of his command. Group Captain Heffron’s talk was well received giving us all an insight into a very different Royal Air Force to the one we knew.
The afternoon session started with the consideration of resolutions of which there were five listed but one was withdrawn. The resolution that future Wings Appeal shall be called “The Battle of Britain Wings Appeal” was lost. It was felt that after 70 or more years since the B of B the Association should move along.
The resolution that a full and comprehensive set of minutes of Central Council meetings be made available to all Branches was carried.
Also carried was the resolution that Area Council investigates having its own charity number, the same as Area Branches and they will report back in 2013.
The Conference ended with the presentation of Trophy Certificates, cheques, Area Directors notices and formal closure of Conference.
Sunday began with an early breakfast, 0730/0815, with a short band concert in the ballroom before attending a seminar and open Forum. This final session began with a very interesting and amusing talk given by guest speaker Air Vice Marshall Tony Stables entitled “Forces In Mind Trust” where he talked about the various Forces Charities that exist today and his work in bringing together cohesion and a common focus whilst each maintaining its individuality, but in essence all working together.
Interestingly one of the many items mentioned was the ever growing numbers of Associate and the decreasing Ordinary members. This disparity is well recognised and in these times unavoidable that specific Branch offices once held by Ordinary members is now always achievable. The message is we are all one and that there should be no demarcation between membership grades.
AM Sir Dusty Miller did say during his address how appreciative he was of the work our Associate members do.
Before lunch and departure there was a parade and service held in bright sunshine, the many Standard Bearers present leading the way. The Presidents Band was with us throughout the weekend performing both on Saturday and Sunday. The band is run on a purely self-funding basis and I note with sadness that we did not sponsor them at this conference.
Other topics raised were ATC Involvement, Standard Bearers, RAFLOs, Lapsed members and Wings Appeal logo.
Looking through and trying to read my scribbled jottings I noted that Association income overall was down 1.9% from that of last year the Wings Appeal total for this year being 1.6M as compared with 2M in 2010. This was put down to the economic climate all charities are facing.
HWO recruitment is a priority and a course is to be held in the SE (venue undecided) for new recruits, provided there are enough applicants, in the first week of July. Apply as soon as possible as there is no funding after this!
On a domestic front the service provided by the staff throughout the weekend was excellent as was the food. Any Complaints, “No SIR”