LONDON IRISH RIFLES REGIMENTAL ASSOCIATION.
GENERAL MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE (GMC).
Minutes of the Meeting held by Zoom on Saturday 12th February 2022.
Chairman: Lt Col Anthony Maher (AM)
Vice Chairman: Colonel Ian Denison (ID)
Eric Craig (EC)
Nigel Wilkinson (NW)
Barbara Edwards (BE)
Maj John Fallis (JF)
Noel Gunning (NG)
Maj Peter Lough (PL)
William Oakes (WO)
Richard O’Sullivan (ROS)
Tony Robinson (TR)
Maj John Scannell (JS)
Maj Richard Scott Kerr (RSK)
Alex Shooter (AS)
Apologies were received from:
President: Brigadier Digby O’Lone (DOL)
Maj Robert Denman (RD)
Kevin Hyland (KH)
The Chairman, Lt Col Anthony Maher, called the meeting to order at 1310hrs.
- Minutes of Previous Meeting.
The Chairman confirmed that the Minutes of the previous meeting held on 21st October 2021 had been issued to all GMC members. These Minutes were unanimously agreed as a true record and the Meeting also agreed that any Matters Arising from the last meeting would be covered within the agenda of the current one.
2. Roll Call of Deaths of Members.
The recent death of Carl Watkins, a long term Association Member, was reported to the Meeting by NW, who outlined Carl’s extended service period with the Royal Ulster Rifles and then becoming part of the Mortar Platoon with the London Irish Rifles. Carl will be sorely missed. It was also noted that Sergeant Charles Ward, the current oldest former London Irish Rifleman, celebrated his 103rd birthday in December and that he was visited at his home on that day by Colour Sergeant Eddie Rooney. This visit by a representative of D Company was greatly appreciated by Charles’s family.
3. D Company.
The Chairman expressed his thanks to PSAO, Martyn Lewis, who had supported the holding of the current meeting on a Saturday.
- It was noted that a new OC, Ollie Bambrick, had been appointed to take over from Major Dominic Masters, who is to be deployed to Iraq. Major Bambrick is a former regular with the Yorkshire Regiment and had served previously as 2 i/c of D Company during a recent prior period.
- The Meeting expressed its formal thanks to Major Masters for his two year tenure in command of D Company and his support to Association activities during that period.
- The Chairman also briefly summarised the reorganisation updates that had been announced by the Ministry of the Defence at the end of 2021. He also updated the meeting on the imminent implications for D Company as they moved on 1st April 2022 to a closer alignment with the Irish Guards as part of the 1st Battalion London Guards.
4. Future Events.
- St Patrick’s Parade, 20th March.
- Clearly, a particularly important occasion for the whole London Irish Rifles’ family this year and, as usual, detailed arrangements for the parade will be organised by D Company.
- It was confirmed that the costs of food and a live band are to be shared equally between D Company and the Association.
- There is an intention to issue lapel badges to attendees to commemorate the full 1859-2022 history of the London Irish Rifles.
- The Meeting also agreed that the Museum would issue 150th anniversary prints to all those on parade.
- AGM/Annual Lunch, May 2022.
- The Meeting reviewed possible dates for the 2022 AGM:
- It was agreed that the AGM/Annual Lunch should be held in May, the preferred date being Saturday 7th May.
- Given the issues with respect to catering at Connaught House, it was also agreed that the event would be held at an external location and TR was asked to review the option of holding it at the Civil Service Club, a venue which had been previously used on a number of occasions for the Association’s AGM and Annual Lunch.
- Sicily, September 2022.
- ROS confirmed that the pilgrimage to Sicily would take place from 16th to 21st September, with formal events in Piedimonte Etneo and at the CWGC Cemetery in Catania being held over the weekend of 17th and 18th September.
- The planning for flight bookings and arrangements for in country hotel/transfers etc are underway and it is expected that up to 15 members, to include pipers, will join the tour.
- The GMC agreed to fund 60% of the cost of the air fares and three nights of hotel accommodation for two pipers and JF would convey this information onto them directly to allow their bookings to be made.
- The pilgrimage will be publicised at an appropriate time so that other Association members are able to join us in Sicily but they would need to make all their own arrangements.
It was confirmed that the Welfare Officer, RD, had provided a draft report of the 2021 activities of the Benevolent Fund for the annual audit, which had taken place prior to the meeting:
- It was noted that further underpinning information and paperwork would be requested from RD before audit sign off could be confirmed.
- It was also confirmed that the audited accounts for the Benevolent Fund would need to be available to be tabled for approval at the AGM in May.
RSK stated that he and the other Benevolent Fund Trustees, NW and JF, would be reviewing the impacts of the upcoming organisational changes for D Company on future Welfare matters.
The Finance Officer, NG, confirmed that the audit had been completed successfully. Among points noted during the audit, he confirmed that Emerald costs for 2021 exceeded income from subscriptions by over £300, and this had been caused by a combination of increasing printing/distribution costs and the financial impacts of a decline in membership payments.
7. The Pipe Band.
The Band President, JF, reported that:
- The Band will be in attendance for the St Patrick’s Parade on 20th March.
- Current strength totalled 5/6 pipers plus 2 side and 1 bass drummers.
The Membership Secretary, JS, updated the meeting on Membership levels which had seen a decline in the headline numbers reflecting the updates for notifications of recent deaths. There was a discussion of how to address subscribing membership take up with over 200 of the total figure of 326 not being considered as active members due to the fact that they do not pay the £10 fee to receive the Emerald.
- It was further noted that some recently joined members and even some GMC members had not paid their subscriptions.
- JS noted that the wish to re-establish links to serving and former D Company members, as well as those who had served with the London Irish Rifles prior to 1993, might be enhanced via social media methods including using the LIR Facebook page.
- There would be an opportunity to utilise the occasion of the St Patrick’s parade to create additional awareness of Association activities and the benefits of becoming a member.
- The Meeting also expressed a concern that we sorely needed to address the comparative lack of members amongst those who had served during the 1980/1990s’ periods.
The Museum Curator, AS, noted that he was currently concerned with the secure storage of some elements of the various collections held at Connaught House due to the lack of a full time caretaker on site and also the possible upheavals caused by the upcoming refurbishment of Mulqueen’s Bar.
He reported that, in coordination with the PSAO:
- The Regimental Silver would be moved to a more secure location.
- The Statuettes of the ‘Man of Loos’ and the ‘Son of the Man’ would also be moved.
The Meeting noted that it was vitally important to be assured that the Regimental Silver can still be displayed on formal occasions and that the impressive and valuable portraits of the Honorary Colonels on the walls of the Officers’ Mess remain an integral part of the continuing portrayal of the Regimental History at Connaught House.
10. The Emerald.
ROS provided an update to the Meeting on plans for the 2022 Emerald with the current intention to publish and issue the journal in May soon after the AGM as in previous years.
After a short discussion on optimal timings, the Meeting requested that the publication this year be fast tracked and, if possible, ROS should endeavour to send the Emerald out to subscribing members by the end of April in advance of the AGM. To achieve these timescales, all input copy would need to be send to the editor by the end of March.
11. Army Cadet Force (ACF).
ID reported that:
- Due to a lack of adult leaders, the activities of 99 Detachment have now been suspended.
- According to precedent, the head gear and cap badge for 77 Detachment would align to the new parent unit which will be the Irish Guards. after 1st April 2022.
12. Future of the Association.
The Chairman tabled a list of possible Courses of Action (COA) for discussion and invited feedback on a range of future possible scenarios.
Following an extended debate across all GMC members:
- The GMC agreed that no immediate precipitate action was required but confirmed that it was critically important that a written plan be produced in short order to include a detailed review of the current, short term foreseeable and medium term issues for the Association as well as a review and updating of all contingency plans.
- This review should cover all Association activities including our people and parades, current/future locations and interactions with No 15 (Loos) Company, the War Memorial, Museum artefacts, the Pipes and Drums, the Benevolent Fund, Membership, the Officers’ Club, the Emerald and the range of web site and social media activities.
- To this end, it was agreed that a sub group be formed, to include PL, NG, AS and ROS, and they would be tasked to develop a plan of action that would be able to be updated rapidly as additional relevant developments emerge.
- The working group would gain inputs to underpin their conclusions and recommendations in close coordination with the wider GMC and to report back regularly on progress at meetings.
13. Any Other Business.
- AM had led the annual Stormberg Parade, which had been held in Belfast in December under restricted Covid protocols. The event was attended by a small formal party but it is hoped that the 2022 Parade to commemorate the 123 Royal Irish Riflemen named on the War Memorial at the City Hall will return to normal.
- The previously agreed Association financial support to the horticulture improvements at the Irish Infantry Grove at the National Arboretum was expected to be paid out this year but it was unlikely that any formal rededication event, which had been postponed from prior years, would take place in 2022.
- It was confirmed that Regimental Tie etiquette would align with the Guards’ style after 1st April 2022.
- A letter from the 1st Surrey Rifles Association, the historic residents at the Flodden Road site, had been received and they had advised us that they would be immediately discontinuing all their activities.
With no other matters to attend to, the meeting concluded at 15:30hrs.
At Connaught House on FRIDAY 22nd APRIL 2022 (time to be confirmed).