December '19

December '19

Minutes of the Branch Meeting on 3rd December 2019 at The Griffin Inn, Chipping Warden

A. CHAIRMAN’S OPENING REMARKS: The meeting was conducted by our new Chairman, Chris who gave way to our new President John who then told us how he saw his role in supporting the Chairman. John explained that his main duty as President is to protect the Branch and its members, and to give encouragement to the Committee. He also said that in all the years he had been PAO he had never had official recognition from County despite many requests, and we should therefore ensure that this does not happen to his replacement Tom (see Item F below). He then asked Terry to read out the “Tribute to Russ”, which you’ll find included as a “Profile” of Russ on our Web site. This was followed by a minutes silence.

A.1 Minutes of Previous Meetings: Due to Russ’ absence, the Minutes of the meetings since the end of July had not been formally approved and signed. Terry proposed that they all be approved, and seconded by Laurie, they were signed by Chris.


B.1 Remembrance Sunday: It has been recognised that a number of improvements are possible:

 . One person to be in overall charge to ensure we hold the two minutes silence on time at 11.00 am

Secretary's Note: Normally, this would be our Chairman but as our Standard needs to be paraded with full ceremonial honours, our Standard Bearer Chris, who, as of last week has become our Chairman, was otherwise engaged. He did have a designated other but...

 . Find a member to become the Standard Bearer to allow Chris to take charge and make the Exhortation and the Kohima address

 . Announce the names of those placing wreathes on the Memorial & whom they represent.

 . Find a reliable means of playing the Last Post and Reveille. It was unfortunate that our nonagenarian bugler Peter was unwell that  weekend but bowing to the inevitable, we need to consider the future.

 . A microphone and loudspeaker would be of help to prevent passing traffic drowning out the ceremony – try to borrow one before deciding if we needed buy one (the Rector, Tony B or Richard B?)

 . Use a Pedestrian Crossing Marshal

 . On conclusion of the ceremony, for those needing to cross High Street, the Pedestrian crossing must be used for safety and as an   example to our younger attendees.

B.2 Christmas Card Competition: The judging of all 125 entries is now complete and two winners from each of five junior schools in our District have been selected, plus one 4 year-old by the name of Elliot, from Boddington and another, Hayden, who is not much older from Culworth. Terry has ordered books and Hobbycraft tokens (total cost £165) and with John Russell, plans to visit all the schools next week to make the presentations.

All the Boddington school cards entered were placed in Boddington Village Hall last Sunday, and the PTA there suggested to those present that they made a donation to the Branch. This resulted in collecting a total of £85.13. Terry thanked all members who had been involved in this exercise.

Secretary’s Note: When presenting the prizes in Boddington, we were given another £50 towards the Poppy Appeal; the children had been fund raising amongst themselves.

B.3 2019 Quiz: This was a successful evening with some 76 taking part, a little down on last year. The gross profit was £777, excluding Hire of the village hall,  broken down as follows, with previous years as comparison:

                                         2019      2018       2017      2016

                      Tables         £230        288         228        175 

                      Raffle          £240        292         244        189

                      Bar              £307        304          224        186

                      Totals         £777        884          696        550

B.3.1 A number of concerns were raised this year about the difficulty of the questions, and Chris C told me that the way that the Village Hall Quiz questions are set at a more realistic level is to have a small group view them first and reject the most obscure ones. Perhaps this could be tried for next year?

Secretary's Note: We should add that we had as many positive reactions to the new style of quiz questions as negative; the most common comment was that "they made you think".

A special thank you must be expressed to all members of the Branch who helped before and during the evening. Alan has written to thank all the non RBL members who helped: the Quiz Master Shaun and his wife Karin on the score board, Bob C who helped with marking, Claire, wife of new Member Brian who helped behind the bar, and the three PTA ladies who prepared the bacon butties.             

B.4 RBLR Run to Galanos House: This will leave the Long Itch Diner at 13.45 to be at Galanos before 14.00.

B.5 Richard Buck Concert: Our local lad Richard will be giving another of his excellent concerts at Byfield church at 3pm on Sunday 5th January 2020. There will be a retiring collection in aid of our Branch, so do come along and support him!  

B.6 Branch Community Support (see also Item E "Welfare" below): A detailed document explaining this has been produced. Chris briefly ran through it and a copy will be sent to Graham.  

C. CORRESPONDENCE: There was no other particular correspondence to discuss.

D. FINANCE: In the absence of David, Alan reported his end of November figures as continuing to be healthy. Alan also reported that County had issued a list of observations found at Inspection of Branch Accounts from across the County and further afield, none of which applied to us. David has been copied on this.

Secretary's Note: As always, possibly sensitive information is excluded from these edited Minutes. For full details of our current financial position, see our Minutes in hard-copy format.

E. WELFARE: See also Item B.6 above. Alison reported that she was stepping down from this role for health reasons but would be happy to continue on the Committee. Chris asked if anyone else would care to step in to share it with Graham.

F. POPPY APPEAL: John reported that to date he had banked £8,137.71, and that £166.50 was due from the Branch for the wreathes He said he had found two people to take on consolidation of the Byfield collections: Rob and Caroline. He also said he was anxious that his replacement for the whole District, Tom, would receive prompt recognition with all the correct papers, something that he had never had over his 10 year tenure despite several requests to County. John also said he had accumulated a large number of unused poppies over time which would be a shame to throw away. It was suggested that the schools could be approached to consider making them into sculptures - an idea to be followed up.

G. MEMBERSHIP: Terry announced that membership is now 75. He said that should we do the Fetes again next year, then we would need something to attract people to them, such as a dog, a game (e.g. boules, or the treasure hunt game proposed previously, which needs to be built, any carpenters out there?) or tea and cakes.


H.1 Exclusion of civilians from the Cenotaph march past: Terry highlighted some correspondence originated by Laurie who had been shocked by a newspaper report stating that civilians had been excluded from the Cenotaph march past. Laurie cited in an e-mail how his parents had contributed to the war effort during WW2  (Home Guard and aircraft manufacture), which Terry had forwarded to the RBL Commemorative Events Team. They had replied by explaining that the RBL provide allocations to a number of associations and that any press coverage suggesting civilians are banned is actually a lie. It is simply the case that places are limited and it is hoped that the press will be asked by the RBL to clarify this misrepresentation.

H.2 Merchant Navy Day: Terry flew the Red Ensign on Merchant Navy Day and received a Certificate from Seafarers' UK for doing so (see image below). He also attended a service in Daventry to mark the day.

H.3 Training Courses: Two courses will be held in Aylesbury next year, a two day one on Branch Management and the other one day on Finance – dates to be advised. Chris and Terry would be interested in the former and David in the latter.

H.4 Future Meeting Dates: John would like to have a rolling programme of meeting dates published. Alan will review with John the most appropriate way of doing this..

H.5 Ideas for Future Outings: A number were discussed – Hook Norton Brewery, Northampton Brewery,  Midland Air Museum, the new Silverstone Museum and the National Memorial Arboretum. Alan will find details for the next meeting, including using the DACT Minibus.

H.6 Ideas for Speakers: There are a number who we have used previously who have other subjects e g  the Home Guard (protecting Saint Pauls), History of Transport in The West Midlands, and two new ones which Alan will follow up about Katharine House Hospice and the Story of the Unknown Soldier.

H.7 Alison proposed a vote of thanks to Terry for all the work he had done in organising the Christmas card competition.

H.8 Terry announced that Stuart Mallace has said the Branch can keep Russ’ Barbecue, currently at Joys’ house.

H.9 Terry said that we should aim to place one RBL article in every issue of Byfield's Parish Magazine "The Byword" – it is published every two months and articles need to be submitted on the first Sunday of the month preceding publication i.e. next deadline 5th January 2020.

H.10: Head Office have published a document, which has been circulated electronically, about the future shape of the Legion. It is called a “Strategy Review”, and Consultants have been engaged to look at the RBL’s overall organisation and its vision ‘To bring together the nation, its communities and individuals to create better futures for our armed forces and their families’. To date, the proposals include the closure of the four Break Centres (i.e. Respite centres)  and outsourced holidays from February 2020. Currently, 153 staff are at risk of redundancy. The Handy Van service will also be closed on 31 March 2020. As the Strategy development continues, we will be kept informed.

Should any member wish to comment on this proposal, please take up the matter direct with the RBL.


CHRISTMAS PARTY in The Plough in Boddington Friday evening 13th December.

Committee: none in December, next Committee Meeting Friday 24th January , 12 noon at Joy’s house

Branch: Monday  6th January 2020  8 pm Byfield Village Hall, Speaker Bert  Manton - Country Bygones and Quiz.  Russ Barrie, County Chairman, may be attending.                                

Lunch:  Wednesday 29th  January 12.30 pm Red Lion in Culworth OX17 2BD (note Fox and Hounds, our original choice in Charwelton is not open at lunch time Wednesdays). 

Flag Flying Days   9th January 2020   Birthday of Duchess of Cambridge      

                                20th January 2020  Birthday of the Countess of Wessex




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