The Royal Navy Club of 1765 and 1785 (United 1889)
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Chairman's Annual Report - 2019

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It is a pleasure to render my Annual Report for Financial Year (FY) 2018/2019 for the Royal Navy Club of 1765 and 1785.

Overview

I am very pleased to report that our unique club continues to thrive, with membership numbers reasonably stable and attendance at dinners holding up well, but there is always room available for increased interest. In financial terms, we had a most satisfactory year, balancing the books whilst delivering the published dinner programme and properly supporting our charitable aims. The Club’s sincere congratulations go to our Vice Chairman, Admiral Tony Radakin, for being promoted and appointed as the First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, and to his relief as our Vice Chairman, Vice Admiral Jerry Kyd, on also being promoted and appointed Fleet Commander. This results in the Club continuing to have strong support directly from a member of the Admiralty Board.

General Points

More broadly, I would like to bring to your attention the following general points:

Dinners. The tempo of three dinners a year meets our aims well: Founders’ Day in London, followed by June (with spouses/partners) and Trafalgar Night in the regions; one being arranged in Portsmouth if possible. After a long spell of holding the February Founders’ Day dinner in Trinity House, the Naval Club in Mayfair proved an excellent venue this year with a full, busy dining room. You will see from the 2020 dining card that the next Founders Day dinner will be held in the Naval & Military Club which rings the changes and can fit a few more diners. A return to the RY BRITANNIA in June this year was undoubtedly the highlight of the programme, and a similarly special event is being planned onboard HQS WELLINGTON for June 2020 to which our Patron, HRH the Prince of Wales, has been invited, but to date, has yet to confirm.

Although generally well attended there is invariably spare capacity at each dinner, so I urge you to sign up early and bring a guest, except of course for Founders’ Day where to ensure Chatham House rules for our speakers, the only guests are the Admiralty Board.

Alongside its charitable aims, dining and socialising are the raison d'etre of the club, so I would ask that members try and support at least one dinner a year if at all possible.

Charitable Objects. As you will know, the Club’s charitable status specifically broadened in 2006 to be gender neutral is predicated upon “the relief of distressed widows and widowers, orphan children, siblings and dependents of those who have been Members of the Club but who have ceased to be so by death or resignation”. It is the firm and declared intention of both the Trustees and the Committee, matching the national spirit of inclusivity, that the definition of “dependents” will be applied as broadly and positively as possible, seeking only to examine genuine connection and need as established via an independent assessment by other service charitable agents. This means that unmarried partners may, at the discretion of the Trustees, be considered for financial help always based upon genuine need.

Shadow Secretary. In support of the Surplus Fund risk register, and as good governance for the Club generally, I am very pleased to say that the post of “shadow secretary” will continue and be filled by fellow member Cdr David Evans when the incumbent Cdr Hamish Tetlow stands down at the AGM in October. This will ensure that should the Secretary be incapacitated for any reason, either temporarily or permanently, there is someone with a working knowledge of the Club, to immediately step and hold the reins whilst a longer-term solution is found. Hopefully, this is a contingency which will never be necessary.

Legacies. We were fortunate to receive a legacy of £2,867 from the estate of former Club member Commander Archibald Stewart who crossed the bar in 1963 having been a member since 1930. Subsequently, we have received a donation of £400 from the widow of recently deceased member Cdr Nick Lorimer OBE who sadly passed away in June after a short illness. It is appropriate that I draw to the attention of members the usefulness of legacies and donations such as these, and to encourage you all to please look out for, and perhaps even engender, such charitable giving towards the Club’s finances.

Use of the term "Brother Offcier". In response to comments made to committee members, the Committee has recently discussed in depth the continuance of our traditional term “Brother Officer” in relation to the growing number of female officers within our membership, and against the backdrop of national trends surrounding these matters. It is the Committees’ firm view that this term should no longer be in general use, and that an alternative such as “Fellow Officer” would be more appropriate. We have asked the 8 female members for their views on change and have had some very balanced and well-reasoned responses varying between for, against and ambivalence to any change. It is undoubtedly the case that if exception is being taken by using the term, then it should be “de-commissioned” and the Club evolve with the times whilst concentrating on the more solid traditions that should be upheld. The Committee have agreed to make it so.

We will, of course, retain the Nelsonian ethos as a “Band of Brothers,” but interestingly Nelson himself used the term “Fellow” at the battle of Trafalgar when he turned to one of his officers and said “See how that noble fellow Collingwood takes his ship into action. How I envy him

To allow for Fellow Officers’ views on this subject it is included as a discussion point in the October AGM Agenda.

This might be your ideal opportunity to attend the AGM and Trafalgar Night dinner afterwards!

Membership. I would once again ask that you actively help the Secretary in his role of supporting us in several ways. Firstly, as I mentioned in my report last year, the continued health of our club is unquestionably our ability to recruit new members. If you are able, please inform the Secretary of any potential new members either newly promoted, still serving or retired. As you would expect, a useful link with the Commanding Officers’ Desig course is established, but that is only the beginning, I am sure we could do a lot better to attract new members. Secondly, please keep an eye on your bank account in regard to your direct debit to the Club: equally, change of addresses, especially email addresses and rank should be notified to the Secretary. Remember that much useful information on the club and its activities is available on the excellent web site at www.royalnavyclub.org, it is well worth the occasional visit.

Finally, there has been very little take up of the option I mentioned last year for members to receive their annual mailings by email. Since this would reduce costs, I request you think about it again and contact the Secretary if you are interested.

Club Prize. The Club's annual prize to the best performing student at the Command Qualification 2 Board was in 2018 awarded to Lt Cdr J Wallington-Smith. He was presented with his superb, highly polished brass sextant by the First Sea Lord at the Founders’ Day dinner on 7 February 2019 at the Naval Club.

Surplus and General Funds

Both the General and Surplus funds continue to be in good shape and received a “clean” verdict when audited in April. Each remain in surplus after all bills are paid and charitable aims met. The General Fund transferred £2000 to the Surplus Fund at the end of the financial year thereby meeting our charitable remit as a dining club. We hope to transfer an equivalent amount next year. The Surplus fund continues to be managed by Quilter Cheviot, overseen by our Trustees and the investment portfolio is in good shape notwithstanding a rather unpredictable market. Support for 7 Memorialists is being maintained through financial support (all Club widows) and I urge you, yet again, to bring to the notice of the Secretary anyone who is in need of support and eligible to be a memorialist.

The approved and signed Independent Examiner's report on both accounts can be accessed through the Club's web site.

Summary

It has been a very satisfactory year, and I am delighted, after my fixed three-year tenure, to be handing on to my successor your Club in good order. The Club has again met its charitable aims in full and facilitated a well-balanced schedule of three excellent dinners with interesting, informed speakers at a variety of venues. An equally interesting programme, already highlighted, is planned for next year.

The Club continues to prosper and grow in its inclusion of those that have qualified for command of one of Her Majesty’s Warships in the modern Royal Navy. I have been honoured to act as your Chairman for the past 3 years which seem to have gone all too quickly, but am delighted to be succeeded by Vice Admiral Sir Charles Montgomery KBE who will, I know, bring energy and vision alongside a steady hand on the helm. Let me in conclusion express my thanks to all on the Committee and the Trustees and especially our Secretary all of whom give up valuable time to ensure continued diligence in the overall management and governance of this fine Club.

 

Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope GCB OBE DL
Chairman