Tracie Thomas writes:
Firstly, it is with great sadness to report that Phi Hughes ex RM Corps Bandmaster has crossed the bar. Phil was a brilliant musician, a highly respected member of the RM Band Service and an inspiration to younger recruits as they started their careers. He will be missed by family, friends and for his enthusiastic musical input to the annual Sgts Mess Panto here in Deal.
It has been a busy couple of months at the Deal RMA and the standard has been presented at a variety of remembrance services. Members participated in the Armed Forces Day service and march held at Deal Pier on the 30th June, with the Deal contingent of ex Wrens marching close behind. The Dover Patrol Memorial Service took place on the 21st July – the memorial is a reminder of all those who kept the channel safe in the Great War, with a plaque added for those who served on the Dover Patrol during WW2. RMA members also attended the Burma Star Association Service of Commemoration on the evening of the 15th August, and the club Secretary Archie Houston laid a wreath on our behalf. On each occasion our standard bearers ‘Dusty’ Miller and Gerry Bowers have also been representing the RMA.
Back at the club the upstairs room at the RMA has been undergoing extensive refurbishment. This started slowly but surely funded through our local RMA monies, and hugely supported by the efforts of a small number of members who feely gave their time, expertise and labour. Following on from the merger of the national RMA and the RM Charity, we were able to secure a grant application to ensure the project could be fully completed ready for the memorial Band Day in July. The grant from the Armed Forces Covenant Veterans Centre Fund was one of the first to be agreed from that fund, and was used to finish the room, including the installation of a carvery facility, update the kitchen and will also fund some further planned improvements. The newly named Gibraltar Room was officially opened on the 13th July by Col David Storrie OBE President of the RMA, and WO1 Corps RSM Dave Mason – watched over by Jonathan Ball CEO of the RM Charity. The room was packed with both RMA members and the group who were first to use the room – former RMBS Musicians for their virtual branch inaugural meeting. This was followed a few days later with a successful trial run of the carvery which will now be open for one Sunday lunch a month. Bob Davies who has supported the RMA with photography and reports for a number of years, was also presented with a RMA wine stopper and two bottles of wine, which it is hoped he will put to good use. He has now handed over the batten for this work to Tracie Thomas RMA Committee member and ex Wren Photographer.
The club also opened it doors to the wider public for Deal Carnival and on the Band Memorial Day so anyone to use the club’s facilitates for a £1 donation to the RM charity – voluntary of course but skilfully collected by those members who monitor the front ramp!
It is now nearly 30 years since the fateful September morning when a bomb exploded in the busy recreation room of the RM Staff Band here in Deal. The annual concert on the green remembers the lives lost, the wounded and their family and friends, and includes a rededication service for the Bandstand which continues to be a living memorial to those who were killed. This important anniversary was a special event with the RM Bands of both Portsmouth and HMS Collingwood taking part in the day, under the direction of the Principal Director of Music Lt Colonel Jon Ridley. There was also the spectacular sight of a Spitfire from the RAF Memorial Flight to start the afternoon proceedings. It was estimated that over 12000 people attended the event, which included a varied selection of excellent music and vocals, ending as always with rousing choruses of Rule Britannia and A Life on the Ocean Wave. The RMA was exceptionally busy that day welcoming both RM bands, RMA members, dignitaries and the public. On the day a £1000 cheque was presented to the CG RM from the RMA-TRMC, by Anita Walton RMA Treasurer and Membership Secretary. Mr Chuck Harris, President of HQ Troop 47 RM Commando and D Day veteran also presented our chairman Paul Richardson with a 47 Commando plaque for the club (see photo).
The Deal branch and club membership numbers continue to rise, and social club committee members have recently undertaken a survey to encourage new ideas and suggestions, aimed at increasing day to day use of the club. The results of this were presented at a special committee meeting in July and many of the suggestions are already in the planning stage – so watch this space ……