Shipmates will be very interested to know that another new Branch has been commissioned and S/M Pete Chivers the Stowmarket PRO has forwarded this dispatch from deepest Suffolk.
Who said “can it really happen?” With a lot of hard work and commitment it can. Sunday 5th June 2016 saw the residents of Stowmarket in Suffolk wake up to what would be a gloriously sunny day and the commissioning of a new branch of the Royal Naval Association in their town.
Stowmarket has always had close links with both the Army and RAF, and indeed both have associations that meet regularly at the town’s Royal British Legion. But what about the Royal Navy? Well a group of Navy and Marine veterans at a remembrance parade eighteen months earlier thought the same. What had started as a brief discussion after being mustered and marched at that parade, was now a reality.
Being commissioned requires the support and guidance of RNA HQ, and it was wholehearted, with shipmates from Area 5 on hand from the beginning for face to face discussions. The RNA’s motto was to the fore, “Once Navy, Always Navy.” Those who had become quickly known as the ‘Stowmarket Seven’ now had to work hard to pull things together and arrange a commissioning ceremony. The day was set for Sunday 5th June so it would coincide with the centenary of the Battle of Jutland.
The commissioning day was a great success, with Shipmate Richard Ascott of the RNA National Council conducting the commissioning and swearing in the members of the new branch, as well as overseeing the election of its committee. The branch was also honoured to have in attendance at its commissioning, Bury St Edmunds Member of Parliament, Jo Churchill, who kindly accepted the offer of becoming the branch Patron, along with Jo’s husband Peter, Major Barry Humphreys MBE, Stowmarket Town Mayor and his wife Tracey, Councillor Dave Muller, Stowmarket Deputy Town Mayor and his wife Lois, Brenda Ascott, wife of Richard, and shipmates Tim Jarvis, Paulette Rose, Dave Butler and Peter Down. Many others from the local community and local branch of the British Legion also attended the commissioning and programme of events.
Peter Down gave an enlightening presentation and film on the Battle of Jutland, with the commissioning order also including The Naval Prayer, The Marine Prayer, Arctic Prayer, ‘Up Spirits’, raffle and auction for initial branch fund-raising. The branch welcomed ‘new’ faces to the commissioning and has successfully raised funds that will permit it to purchase a standard, which it is hoped will be dedicated in time for Stowmarket’s Remembrance Parade on Sunday 13th November 2016.