MINUTES OF THE HALTON APPRENTICES’ ASSOCIATION

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING – 23rd March 2013

 

Present:                       G Burton                                             Chairman

                                    Gp Capt S A Harper                           President

                                    D Larkin                                              Deputy Chairman/Archivist

                                    D O’Brien                                           Office Manager

D Knowles                                          Treasurer

                                    A King                                                            Membership Secretary

                                    P Milner                                              Branches Secretary

                                    A Parrott                                             Trading

                                    R Priest                                               Halton Grove

                                    A Farley                                              IT Manager

                                    P Ayres                                               Museum

                                    B Smith                                               Council Member

                                    J Styles                                                Council Member

P West                                                 Secretary

L Shardlow                                         Secretary (Designate)

                                    Plus 53 members

 

Item 1 – Introduction and Apologies

 

The meeting was opened with the Halton Apprentices Prayer.

 

The Chairman welcomed the President, Group Captain Simon Harper, our Vice-Patron, AM Sir Dusty Miller and Vice-Presidents and members attending.  He also welcomed the senior member present; John Rist (36th) Apologies had been received from our Patron, ACM Sir Michael Armitage, our Vice Patron AM Cliff Spink, AC Mike Evans, Council members Duncan Grant and Peter Brown, and 21 other members. 

 

Item 2 – Minutes of the Previous Meeting

 

The minutes of the previous meeting held on 17th March 2012 had been posted on the website.  It was proposed by Les Garden (103rd) and seconded by Graeme Booker (107th) that the minutes were a true and accurate record of the meeting.  The minutes were approved unanimously.

 

Item 3 – Matters Arising from the Previous Minutes

 

There were no matters arising.

 

Item 4 – Chairman’s Report

 

The last 12 months have again been extremely busy particularly with the 90th anniversary we held at the National Memorial Arboretum on the 12th May last year. For those of you who were there, I am sure you will agree it was a splendid occasion particularly as we were privileged to have Lord Trenchard as our guest of honour. The weather was kind to us as it was the only sunny day in the middle of weeks of rain and the day was an enormous success.

 

The annual remembrance parade held at the tribute was again well attended and we also had a healthy representation at the Cenotaph for Remembrance Day. For those of you who have not attended this parade, it is a moving experience, and provided you can stand on your pins for a few hours, you will find the experience worthwhile.

 

It is pleasing to see Entries returning to their spiritual home for reunions of which there have been 10 since the last AGM. The normal programme is a tour of Halton House, a window dedication or anniversary service in St Georges, lunch in Maitland Mess followed by a visit to the museum. Entry reps wishing to book such a reunion should contact Min Larkin at the office.

 

This year is the 50th anniversary of the opening of St George’s church which was built to replace the old church at the rear of workshops destroyed in a fire in 1960. The date for the service is the 19th May at 1030hrs and padre Tony Gilbert has cordially invited ex-brats and their families or friends to the event. Your Association has made a small donation to the event to provide a picnic lunch with wine after the ceremony. If you are interested in attending, please let the office know so that we can cater for the correct numbers.

 

As you may have seen in the Haltonian, the 3rd replacement Queen’s Colour for No 1 S of TT is to be presented at Cosford in late September/early October, this year and OC 1 S of TT has kindly invited your Association to be present on this grand occasion. A total of 300 members are invited, including wives/partners, and a special area for lunch will be set up for us in a hangar. This is a great privilege and, despite its proximity to the Triennial, I hope we will take up our full allocation of tickets. A firm date for the event will not be known until the availability of the member of the Royal family performing the ceremony is released and Cosford cannot issue invitations until the date is fixed. However, if you are interested in attending, you may bid for your tickets by contacting the office.

 

Finally, do not forget the 2013 Triennial will be held here at Halton on Saturday 21st September. The format will be similar to that for the 2010 event utilizing the Henderson/Groves venue with its first class catering facilities and of course, the excellent facility that is the Burton drill hall. I am hopeful that our Vice Patron, AM Cliff Spink, will perform another spectacular flying display.

 

You are well aware that for all these occasions, we are hugely indebted to our President and Station Commander and his staff who never fail to give us unstinting support. I know that you and, indeed the whole membership, appreciate the support we get from all corners of the Station and would want me to thank our President and ask him to pass our sincere thanks onto his hard working and dedicated people.

 

Turning to welfare, it is very pleasing to see that individual welfare needs are extremely low. Hopefully it will remain so but if you need help or know of an ex-brat who is in need of help but is too proud to ask for it, please make Welfare Council Member Duncan Grant aware so that the appropriate advice and help can be given. I would like to thank Duncan for his recent very helpful piece on the provision of welfare care in the last edition of the Haltonian.

 

My final thanks must go to your members of Council and the volunteers who man the office. A Triennial year creates a massive increase in the workload experienced by the volunteers in the office. I experience on a regular basis the tremendous amount of commitment, dedication and effort that these few put in to running your Association. Gentlemen, without them your Association would not exist. My sincere thanks go to all the Council Members and the Office Team for their sterling efforts and the support that they give both all Association members and me.

 

 

Item 5 – Membership State

 

The membership statistics were displayed and expanded upon by the Membership Secretary.  To save postage costs, stamped but undated membership cards were issued for all categories of membership.  Lost or damaged cards would be replaced but a stamped addressed envelope would be appreciated.  Changes to postal and email addresses, and telephone numbers should be passed to the HAA office.  An additional copy of the Haltonian listing a relative’s death could be provided to next of kin free of charge, and future copies could be sent but postage costs would have to be paid.  The Membership Secretary and his deputy greatly appreciated the help given by members in keeping their records up to date.  The Chairman thanked Tony and Peter for their efforts over the last period.

 

Membership numbers had decreased slightly but were still well above the 3000 mark.

 

The top entry for new members this year had been the 121st with 12.

 

Item 6 – Branch Matters

 

Nothing to report.

   

Item 7 - Association Finances

 

The Treasurer stated that he had been in post since 2010 and during that time there had been two major changes, namely the computerisation running in parallel with the manual system and the change of financial year to 31st December.

 

The Treasurer presented slides relating to the costs of the Association stating that all these accounts were published on line. This year had seen a return from HMRC of £11941.00 with regards to Gift Aid, and he remarked that the Association would have lost over £20,000 had we not had Gift Aid in place.

 

The Association had also received legacies totalling over £19,000 since January of 2013.

 

The Treasurer commended the accounts to the Association and it was proposed by Sir Dusty Miller and seconded by John Nelson that they should be adopted. The accounts were approved unanimously by the members present.

 

 

Item 8 – Appointment of Financial Examiner

The Association’s previous treasurer, Fred Crooks, indicated that he was willing to stand as the Independent Financial Examiner.  It was proposed by Barry Smith and seconded by Malcolm Taylor that he should be appointed as such. The motion was carried unanimously

Item 9 – RAF Apprentice Award

The Chairman stated that the RAF was running a modern apprenticeship scheme and there was currently no direct link between the apprenticeship scheme and the Association. Council considered that such a link should be established as our Constitution does allow us the ability to make an award. The Chairman stated that, if agreed by the meeting, he would need to meet with Air Command to discuss the merits and mechanics of presenting such an award.

It was suggested that an annual award for the best engineering modern apprentice be purchased for up to £4000 and £100 set aside as prize money to accompany the award.

Sir Dusty asked the Chairman to determine how much input the Association would have in deciding who would receive the award.

It was proposed by Sir Dusty and seconded by Ron Priest that the idea should be taken forward by the Association. The motion was passed unanimously.

Item 10 – Haltonian

 

The new editing team arrangement was working extremely well and the end product more than acceptable to everyone. Min Larkin showed a photograph of the Editorial Team and introduced them to the meeting, viz. Min himself as Editor-in-Chief, Graeme Booker and Les Garden as assistant editors and Miss Shirley Guy as proof reader.

 

The Chairman thanked the team for their efforts and for maintaining the output of the magazine without interruption

 

Item 11 – Trenchard Museum

 

Min Larkin explained that the archives were now fully manned. The project to digitise the entry records was progressing well. However as Graeme Booker who has been project leader was now too busy with his Haltonian responsibilities to continue, entries were invited to send representatives to the archives to prepare their own records for digitisation.

 

Min said the museum was now visited by 6000 people annually and it is continuing its expansion plans in the ground floor of Groves Mess. This entailed fund raising and he congratulated Tom Costello (59th) whose hard work in fund raising activities has brought in £17,000 in the past year.

 

The Chairman thanked Francis Hanford, Min Larkin, and the team for their hard work.

 

 

Item 12 Halton Grove

 

The Chairman stated that the completion of the refurbishment of the Halton Grove at the NMA had enabled us to simplify the management. To this end, Duncan Grant has relinquished control of the project and will return to full time Welfare duties and the intention was to appoint Ron Priest as a Council Member with a remit to manage all aspects of Grove management on the Council’s behalf.

 

The Chairman asked to record a vote of thanks to both Duncan Grant and Ron Priest on behalf of the Association.

 

 

Item 13 – Election of Officers

 

Peter West was standing down as General Secretary but would stay on the council until after the 2013 Triennial to help with the co-ordination of that event. It was proposed by Les Garden and seconded by Peter West that Les Shardlow (103rd) replaces him. The proposal was carried unanimously.

 

It was proposed by Peter Milner and seconded by John Nelson that Ron Priest be elected to the council as member for the Halton Grove. The proposal was carried unanimously.

 

It was proposed by Barry Smith and seconded by Fred Crooks that all other members remain in post. It was agreed unanimously.

 

On behalf of the Association, the Chairman thanked Peter West for his sterling service to the HAA over the past 14 years.

 

 

 

Item 14 – Future of the Association

 

The Chairman suggested that it would be prudent to put contingency plans in place to safeguard the future of the Association should the current arrangements at RAF Halton no longer be available due to changes in MOD requirements.  The Chairman proposed to set up a small working group to consider the options open to the Association in the event that RAF Halton closes. The working group would consider the options for relocating the HAA office and the future of the Tribute, the windows within St Georges Church and the Trenchard Museum. The working group would consider any sensible suggestions from members as and when requested.

 

The working group would also examine the leaving of a legacy once the Association becomes too small to maintain a viably function. To this end, discussions had already been initiated with the RAF Museum, Hendon, to establish a lasting national legacy.

 

Sir Dusty Miller agreed with the need for the legacy but felt that the working group should also examine a living legacy such as the modern apprentice award.

 

 

Item 15 – President’s Address

 

Group Captain Simon Harper, Station Commander, RAF Halton opened his address stating that he felt privileged to be the President of the Association. He said that the RAFHAA was part of the Halton DNA.

 

He addressed the situation of where Halton stood currently stating that 2012 had been a busy year for the station especially with the 2012 Olympic Games in London where Halton had acted as a host camp for accommodation.

 

He said that Halton was the RAF’s home for sports and the embodiment of the modern air force.

 

This year the station would be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first aeroplane to land at Halton and there would be two events during the year to commemorate that fact which were a Station Families Day on June 15th at which he hoped the Association would be represented as we were part of that legacy and, secondly a Station Engagement Day on September 18/19th.

 

His personal view was that the short term future of the station was secure and he was also very upbeat about the long term future.

 

Item 16 – Patron’s Address

 

In the absence of our Patron, Sir Michael Armitage, Sir Dusty Miller stated that he was very much encouraged by the CO’s address and wished him well in his new post.

 

Sir Dusty then read the following message from Sir Michael:

 

“I very much regret that a family commitment prevents me joining the AGM today, so please accept my apologies. The most important thing is to remind ourselves how very fortunate we are to have so many capable volunteers looking after the affairs of the Association. Their names will be familiar to everyone, and I am not going to offer a nominal role of them all, but a particular word of appreciation is due to Min, Les Garden and Graeme Booker who not only rescued the very important Haltonian journal when it might easily have sunk, but they are still working hard to keep each issue afloat.

 

Mention of the Haltonian reminds me that in the latest issue, there is a short piece on Stick Boys. I was selected as Stick Boy one Saturday morning when I was a snag in 2Wing. The only qualification seemed to be having the shiniest boots on the Saturday morning parade, and the reward was a formal presentation of the Stick by the Commandant in his office, with coffee and biscuits to follow. The Stick was to be returned to his office on the Monday morning. The Stick was, by the way, a pre-war walking out cane complete with polished silver RAF crest.

 

When I returned to 2 Wing, my fellow skates in the room quizzed me about what had gone on. I told them all about it, and I was then foolish enough to ask what I was supposed to do with the Stick until Monday morning. The reply was loud, unanimous and singularly unhelpful!!

 

With all good wishes.      Michael 56th”

 

Item 17 – Closure

 

There being no further business the meeting closed at 1500hrs.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

 

 

 

G O Burton                                                                                         L J Shardlow

Chairman RAFHAA                                                                           General Secretary RAFHAA