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Minutes of the 10th Annual General Meeting of the Rifles and Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regimental Association

Minutes of the 10th Annual General Meeting of the Rifles and Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regimental Association held at Ward Barracks (Training Wing, 5 RIFLES), Bulford Garrison, at 1030 hours on Saturday 16 October 2021


ChairmanCol (Retd) M J Cornwell OBEMJC
SecretaryMaj (Retd) S E BowkettSEB
Acting TreasurerLt Col (Retd) M J R Motum DLMJRM

Plus 28 Members listed in the minutes book Apologies:

Apologies had been received from:

  • Association President – Brig (Retd) P E-O’R-B Davidson-Houston CBE
  • Lt Col (Retd) S J Venus MBE
  • Maj (Retd) P Hall
  • Mr S F Dyer
  • Mr P J Richens

ITEM – 1 Welcome from the Association Chairman


1.1. The Chairman welcomed everyone and explained how the AGM would proceed, including how members could indicate when they wished to speak and how voting would be conducted. He also explained that cyber security considerations on MoD premises precluded the meeting being conducted simultaneously online via SWIFT.

ITEM – 2. Minutes of the 9th AGM of the Rifles and RGBW Regimental Association and matters arising (copy attached).

  • Update on the Management Plan. The Chairman reminded members of the Management Plan endorsed by the Trustees meeting on 01 October 2020 and briefed to members at the 9th AGM, which will see the existing trustees replaced by a Management Board as the Regimental Trust is subsumed into the wider Rifles Regimental Trust. He illustrated the composition of the existing Trustees and the imminent Management Board:

Trustees                                                         Management Board

Brigadier C E D Grist  Brigadier C E D Grist- Chairman
Brigadier P E O’R Davidson-Houston  Chairman of the Association – Vice Chairman
Colonel M J Cornwell  Rifles County Colonels of Bristol, Gloucestershire, Royal Berkshire and Wiltshire
Lieutenant Colonel S D Gray  County Chairman Gloucestershire – Len Keeling
Lieutenant Colonel A T D Lerwill  County Chairman Bristol- Martin Talling
Lieutenant Colonel S J Venus  County Chairman Wiltshire – John Venus
Captain I G Spence  County Chairman Royal Berkshire – Stephen Bowkett
Lieutenant Colonel M J R MotumSecretary/Treasurer of the Management Board

The Chairman further explained that it had been expected that the Management Board would by now have taken over the functions of the Trustees but that the change had been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic and by the need to transfer Association funds to a new bank account.

  • The Association Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum. At the previous AGM Capt Sherman had asked if was possible for seating to be installed at the RGBW Memorial. The Chairman undertook to investigate and report back. It transpires that the original Memorial submission did not include seating. The Trustees had costed the installation of 3 stone seats but no further action had been taken, partly because the Arboretum authorities had stated that a £1,000 charge would be levied simply for the Association to submit an application for seating to be considered but principally because they had made clear that they would be unwilling to consider the installation of seating. There is seating available at the adjacent ‘Shot at Dawn’ Memorial. Thus the idea had hit the proverbial ‘brick wall.’ Consequently the Chairman stated that no further action will be taken. In the meantime, he recorded that Association member Mr Paddy Kendrick continues to keep the Memorial clean and tidy on a voluntary basis. Finally, Lt Col Motum remarked that he had recently visited the Memorial; there is a wooden bench opposite the RGBW Memorial which does provide a vista of the whole Memorial and its particularly good ambience.
  • Association Accounts and Income & Expenditure for Year 1 April 2019 – 31 March 2020. The Chairman reminded the meeting that the previous AGM minutes were referring to the accounts for the previous fiscal year and  noted that they had been approved be the Trustees.
  • List of Events. The Chairman remarked that members would be aware that most events listed on the previous minutes had been cancelled as a consequence of Covid-19. However, Lt Col Motum briefed the meeting about the successful commemoration on 25 April 2021 of the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Imjin during the Korean War in 1951, with  the service in Gloucester Cathedral followed by a march through Gloucester that included both British and Korean armed forces veterans. Capt Sherman related that the Salisbury Branch had managed a successful meeting in July and were due to hold a dinner on 21 November. Lt Col Minty confirmed that the Ferozeshah Reunion and lunch in Devizes was  still going ahead.
  • Remembrance Sunday Cenotaph Parade. Mr Len Keeling (County Chairman Gloucestershire)) and the Chairman briefed the meeting about the arrangements for the forthcoming Royal British Legion Remembrance Sunday parade at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London in this the 70th Anniversary year of the Battle of Imjin. Gloster old comrades will lead the RGBW contingent with 99 places followed by 15 formers DERR officers and soldiers. Members were reminded that the issue of tickets for the parade was the responsibility of the RBL, not the Association, and are due to be distributed by the end of October.

There being no further observations or comments on the draft minutes of the 9th AGM, the Chairman asked for a Proposer and a Seconder that the minutes be adopted.

  1. Proposed:          Capt Sherman
    1. Seconded:          Mr Keeling

ITEM – 3. Report on the Accounts and Income & Expenditure for the Year 1 April 2020 – 31 March 2021.

3.1.   Income. Income into the Association Funds totalled £11,326.00 £1,641 coming from Donations and legacies and £9,685 from the Interest from the Investment Portfolio.

3.2.   Expenses. Expenses amounts to:

          Grants to Branches                                                   £800.00

          Grant to SOGM                                                         £30,000.00

          Grant to Wardrobe Museum                                       £12,000.00

          Move of Unrestricted funds to Association ringed fence

          Funds within The Rifles Regimental Trust                   £258,791.00

          Move of Endowment Funds to Association ringed fence

          Funds within The Rifles Regimental Trust                   £111,180.00

          Other Expenses (including bookkeeping,

Independent Examiner Investment Admin fees,)         £12,785.00

                                                                      Totalling        £425,556.00

3.3.  Thus with the £42,056.00 in the Association Bank Account plus the £258,791.00 residing in the Rifles Regimental Trust, the Association had £300,847.00 available to it as of 01 April 2021. It also had £111,180.00 in Endowment Funds, meaning the use of those Endowment Funds is very restricted.

3.4.   Lt Col Motum (Treasurer) reminded the meeting that one of the benefits of moving from the Association having its own charitable status and trustees to having a management board as a distinct part of the wider Rifles Association charity will be that the fees for managing the Association funds will be much reduced. He recorded that the Trustees had asked him to ensure that RGBW Association funds held within the Rifles Association holdings should be divided into 3 separate blocks:

  • Association Funds
  • Rocke Bequest
  • Regimental Funds

He confirmed that this will be achieved once the change of charitable status is activated. He further reminded branch treasurers that the existing Charity Commission number for running branch accounts is 1038526. Once the change to the new Rifles Association arrangement had been actioned, the new Charity Commission number will be 1119061. Branches will be advised when to use the new number.

ITEM – 4. Future Regimental Events and AGM.

  • The Chairman went through the calendar of Reunions for 2022 and County Chairmen confirmed dates as shown below:

       March 26       Back Badge Reunion. Service at St Mary de Lode, March through the City of Gloucester and Lunch at the Walls Social Centre.

       April 24         Imjin Lunch at Taunton

       May 29          Devizes Reunion, Church Service in St John’s Church followed by lunch in Devizes Town Hall

       June 10/11    Hungerford Reunion

       July 16          RGBW Officers Lunch at the Wardrobe

       July 31          Maiwand reunion at Brock Barracks Reading

       October 2      Chavenage Lunch

       November 11 Remembrance Day

       November 13 Remembrance Sunday

       December 4  Ferozeshah Reunion, Church Service and Lunch

The Chairman mentioned the calligraphy for RGBW Book of Remembrance had been

completed; and Major Nigel Walker had created a beautiful oak book stand and together

 the stand and the Book of Remembrance now reside in St Michael’s Chapel in Salisbury

Cathedral. He also remarked that The President is keen to have a high profile service of

dedication, details of which will be promulgated later

  • Funds for Standard Bearers. Mr Keeling asked that consideration be given to the Association assisting with funds for the provision of standard bearers on occasions such as funerals. The Chairman agreed that this could matter could be taken forward after the AGM.
  • Branch Arrangements for Funerals. Linked to the previous item, Mr Talling explained that branches are frequently approached for assistance with funeral arrangements. Once the ‘bona fides’ of the deceased have been confirmed, branches can assist with the provision of coffin drapes and standard bearers. No charge is made to the bereaved family for such assistance although a donation to the Association branch is requested.

NB. The Chairman reminded branches that coffin drapes are held at the Wardrobe Museum if needed.

  • Patrons of the Wardrobe Museum Scheme. Major Walker briefed the meeting on the new Wardrobe Patrons Scheme for The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum (The Wardrobe) and on the revised status of The Wardrobe Trust. In particular he explained that the Trust was now a ‘Company Limited by Guarantee (CLG),’ registered with Companies House. This regularised the situation following the discovery that neither the Wardrobe nor the Cathedral had an original copy of the Wardrobe lease and that the descendants of the original trustees had inherited the legal burden of the trust. Sorting out these issues had cost approximately £30 K in legal fees.
  • Maiwand 2022. Mr Smith (Reading Branch) stated that the Maiwand Reunion would take place on Sunday 22 July 2022. He also remarked that, following the death of the

Reading Branch treasurer, Mr Ray Povey, he anticipated that it would shortly be possible to unfreeze the Branch bank account.

  • London Cenotaph 2022. The Chairman informed members that he anticipated that the number of tickets available for the RBL Remembrance Sunday Parade at the Cenotaph in London in 2022 would return to the usual figure of 30.
  • RGBW Book of Remembrance and 62nd of Foot Colours. The Chairman briefed the meeting that the Association would look for a date in 2022 for the Dedication of the RGBW Book of Remembrance which, due to the carpentry skills of Maj Walker, had been placed in the St. Michael’s Chapel in Salisbury Cathedral. He also explained that the Cathedral authorities had declared the Colours of the 62nd of Foot laid up in the Cathedral in the 19th Century to be ‘disintegrated’. Colours that are declared ‘disintegrated’ are handed back to their original owners or descendants and the options for their disposal are:
  • Burial in an unmarked plot
  • Cremation and burial in an unmarked plot
  • Cremation and the ashes scattered

It is proposed that the 62nd’ s Colours will be cremated and the ashes scattered in the Garden of Remembrance at the Wardrobe. The finials will be removed and placed in the Museum. It is further proposed that the Dedication of the RGBW Book of Remembrance will be combined on the same day that the ashes of the 62nd’ s Colours are scattered along with an Act of Remembrance for ‘Farmer’s Boys’ who have died during the Covid pandemic.

ITEM – 5. Brief on the Rifles Association.

  • Lt Col Lerwill briefed the meeting on developments within the Rifles Association. For entirely understandable reasons, e.g. the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Rifles Association had been slow to get going. Now after 14 years, the Rifles Association is considering the need for regional branches and their relationship with forming Regimental Associations and events. In particular consideration is being given to whether the RGBW reunion events in Gloucester, Salisbury and Reading can be linked to Rifles Association annual ‘high profile events.
  • There followed an open discussion about the way ahead. Lt Col Motum remarked that he personally supported the proposal which was a logical progression in line with the changing charitable status of the Association and the creation of a RGBW Management Board within the Rifles charity. Furthermore, a new Rifles database for veterans will enable links to the forming Regimental Associations.
  • The Chairman noted that such links were not always welcome. For example, the RGJ Association branch in Warminster have not shown any interest in joining the RGBW branch. Maj Cook queried whether the Rifles Association regional branches would be based on counties or wider areas, such as the South West. Mr Smith remarked that the Reading Branch of the Association already has a close and beneficial relationship with 7 Rifles. He also mentioned that he had heard talk about a Wessex Regiment (V) Association being formed but no one else had heard about this suggestion.
  • Major Bowkett remarked that it would make sense to pursue links at the county level. We are already the ‘Rifles and RGBW Association’ and a county focus would exploit

existing arrangements as well as limiting travelling distance for members of both Associations. The Chairman wondered whether our Association could have an input to the ‘Bugle’ magazine but Lt Col Motum felt it was probably unlikely that the Rifles Association would promote our Association in that way; consequently it would be up to us to fit in, link our events and attract ex-Riflemen. Maj Cook further recommended that we should stop referring to the Rifles as ‘them’ – the Rifles are ‘us, hence the Association title. Capt Sherman stated that cooperation between the Associations was simply natural evolution.

  • The Chairman summed up the discussion by stating that Rifles and RGBW Association Branches need be aware of proposals for Rifles Association branches in their area and should look out for individual ex-Riflemen who may like to join our existing Association. Responding to Lt Col Minty’s suggestion that branches advertise their events on SWIFT, the Chairman agreed that SWIFT provides a good forum for Riflemen to get know their local Association branch, not least as a point of contact for welfare matters.
  • Action. Two further actions were proposed.
  • That the Association should encourage members to attend the Rifles Sounding Retreat on Horse Guards on 8 June 2022 and that provision of transport should be investigated.
    • Proposed: Capt Sherman
    • Seconded: Mr Keeling
  • Lt Col Lerwill undertook to approach RHQ The Rifles to discover their view about the way ahead and to establish a dialogue.

ITEM – 6. Future Functions and Funding Sequence.

  • The Chairman began that discussion about funding of future functions by reminding the meeting that the Association had originally provided funding support to the 3 county events (Back Badge Day, Salisbury Reunion and the Maiwand Reunion) on the basis that they were 2 day events. All have now become one day only. He noted that the following additional events had grown up at no cost to the Association and were individually organised:
  • The Imjin Lunch
  • The Ferozeshah Commemoration
  • The Devizes Reunion
  • The Hungerford ‘Farmer’s Boys’ Reunion

He went on to invite the views of Branches about future events and funding.

  • Maj Cook asked what the Association’s capital is going to be used for in 15 years time and another member asked about welfare provision. The Chairman explained that, following the formation of the Rifles, funds were passed to the Rifles charity for welfare which was consequently now a Rifles responsibility. Branches identifying welfare cases can either pass them to the Rifles or use branch funds. Lt Col Motum explained that the future disbursement of Association capital assets was a matter for the new Management Board. He reminded members that branch funds are charitable funds and must be managed as such. The Chairman concluded by noting that branches had varying levels of funding available to them which will be reflected in the Association funding of events.

ITEM – 7. Any Other Business.

  • Mr Steve Knight (Gloucester Severn Branch) drew attention to the need to update the Association constitution and handbook as these under pin the branch equivalents. He also asked when the new charity number (1119061) should be taken into use? The Chairman replied that these were matters for the new Management Board and that he would notify branches once the change to the Association’s charitable status had been actioned.
  • Maj Walker informed the meeting that General Sir Nick Parker is looking at the possibility of establishing a separate Rifles Museum. Its location is yet to be decided but in time it will become the only MoD funded museum belonging to the Rifles family.
  • Martin Talling stated that the Bristol Branch needs assistance if it is to survive and suggested that over reliance on social media, such as Facebook. Was counterproductive.
  • Colin Porter related that 2019 had been a bad year; he had lost his leg but confirmed that Facebook does work and thanked members for their car and support.

The Chairman declared the meeting closed at 12:20 hours.