The Membership
Sadly each year some of our members “cross the bar” and we will be remembering them at the start of the AGM. Amongst them was a former Chairman, Lieutenant Commander Patrick Collis. There was a strong showing of members at his Service of Thanksgiving in January where Andy Quick and Mike Howard gave stirring and eloquent Addresses.
As we lose members others join the Flotilla and overall numbers remain much the same. However with the number of personnel in both the Royal and Merchant Navies in almost perpetual decline we need a positive recruiting effort to ensure the future of the Flotilla.
The Committee will be looking at possible courses of action but word of mouth is as good a recruiting tool as anything and so often a new member will say “why on earth did I not join before” If each member could recruit just one other member, the future would be assured.

The Committee
The Flotilla benefits from having an outstanding Committee. Two of the current members stand down at this AGM. Firstly Mike Howard who has organised some interesting and enjoyable visits and who in the past has helped with the link with ACORAM. His Visits role is being taken over by Richard Stenlake who has arranged for some Flotilla members to visit the Hydrographic Office at Taunton in March. The link with ACORAM will now be taken over by Ian Brannam.
Secondly, Chris Seaton who has not only been Treasurer but also for the last four years run the Trafalgar Day Service with great verve and aplomb. The running of the Trafalgar Day has now been taken over by Trevor Waddington.
Chris (Seaton) will take over from Chris (Cole) as Examiner of the Flotilla’s Accounts.
Not on the Committee but standing down from filling in as Lecture Secretary is David Massey whose role was to be taken over by Rodney Battey but sadly has had now to decline.
During the next year, our hard working Secretary will be handing over to Bob Symons but will remain a Committee member until the 2015 AGM.
I am immensely grateful to all those who have played a part in running the organisation of the Flotilla. Without them there would be no Flotilla.

HMS Defender
A small group went to Portsmouth for a Sea Day in May but regrettably a machinery defect meant the ship stayed alongside. At least the immediate past Chairman was able to don white overalls and crawl around the machinery much of which he had helped design!
The Commanding Officer and some of the Ship’s Company attended the Trafalgar Day Service in Exeter Cathedral.
In October a small group went to Devonport for a Capability Demonstration and Reception (what we called a CTP!) held on board and the next day a larger group joined some 400 Exeter residents and were taken by coach to Plymouth to visit the ship.
On the 15th March the ship was granted the Freedom of the City of Exeter. Three of us were in the official party and many more of our members lined the street as, led by a Royal Marine Band, the Ship’s Company marched to the Cathedral Green before piling in to the White Ensign Club for an Oggie and one or two beers!
I think all of us have been universally impressed by both the ship and the enthusiasm and professionalism of her Ship’s Company.

The Lecture Programme
Those who were there will recall the excellent lecture given by the son and grandson of Commodore Harwood on the Battle of the River Plate. The Flotilla has made a small contribution to the Memorial Appeal and two members of the Flotilla will attend the Dedication of the Memorial at the National Arboretum on 12 April.
Lectures during the current year have included a Briefing on the latest Cougar deployment by our Patron Commodore Paddy McAlpine who has now been relieved by Commodore Jerry Kyd whose last appointment was Captain of Dartmouth,
Other lectures have covered the Work of the Field Ambulance Unit in Afganistan, Mineral Mining in Devon, the Deployment of the BEF in the Great War, COPPs, Spitsbergen, and D-Day Beach Surveys
And this month we had a fascinating talk on 150 Years of Naval Training on the Dart by Doctors Richard Porter and Jane Harrold.
Next year will we try and get speakers to update us on the Carrier programme, the Astute class of Submarines and perhaps Unmanned Air Systems. Ideas for lectures and contacts are always welcomed. Please contact the Lecture Secretary.
When Lympstone has been unavailable to us, we have met, thanks to the Commanding Officer Lt Col Kitson and the Adjutant Captain Ceri Green, in the Exeter University OTC Mess where we have been made most welcome and enjoy the outstanding food prepared and cooked for us by Peter Mason and his team.
Our visual aid equipment is becoming increasingly unreliable and although we will encourage future lecturers to bring their own equipment, we are looking at cost effective ways of up-dating our own laptop and projector.

Other Highlights of the Year

Arctic Stars
Five members of the Flotilla have been awarded their Arctic Stars - Tommy Handly and Harold Lloyd in the presence of HRH The Duke of York at a Passing Out Parade at Dartmouth and Patrick Collis, Angus Baber and Jim Perrin by the Lord Lieutenant at the Trafalgar Day Service.The Lord Lieutenant Captain Eric Dancer who is an Honorary Member of the Flotilla, received a Knighthood in the Birthday Honours.
Visit to St Malo
A small group of members travelled to St Malo at the invitation of the Chairman, Christian Lebreton, and members of ACORAM Rennes where they were exceptionally well looked after including a cocktail party and lunch on board FNS La Motte-Picquet

Annual Lunch
Twenty four of us attended a very short AGM before adjourning to the bar and lunch. Our Guest of Honour was Colonel Dave Kassapian the Commandant of CTCRM.

Annual Dinner
Some sixty members and guests attended the Annual Dinner in November. We are privileged to have a display by the Royal Marines Corps of Drums prior to the Dinner and music by their Quintet during the Dinner. The Flotilla is well looked after by Sally Barlow in charge of the
Dining Room serving a meal that was cooked by her husband! The principle guest was Rear Admiral Martin Alabaster CBE who until fairly recently was Flag Officer Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Summer Dinner
Robert Harland once again organised a golfing afternoon for those members who participate in this sport followed by an excellent dinner for all members of the Flotilla and their guests at the East Devon Golf Club. This was a delightful relaxed, fun and enjoyable evening and will be repeated this year on Thursday 17th July. If you have not already signed up, then you really should as soon as possible.

Trafalgar Day Service
A full Royal Marine Band, a former First Sea Lord and other Flag and General Officers all in uniform, a full Cathedral, an Anthem especially commissioned for the Flotilla by Chris Seaton, TV coverage and a stirring Address by the Dean all combined to make this a very special Trafalgar Day Service. This was the last to be organised by the Chris Seaton/Martin Sowman team and my thanks go to both of them for all their hard work, tact and drive for enhancing the reputation of the Flotilla and the Navy in organising so successfully the Service over the last few years.

This has been another active and interesting year for the Flotilla but I am conscious that there are many members who we rarely see. With Lectures, Dinners, and Lunches and of course the Trafalgar Day Service, there ought to be something for every member of the Flotilla. Please come to at least one event next year and I hope you will be pleasantly surprised and become a regular attendee.

Rory Jackson

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