HRFCA held its Annual Association Meeting at Perth on 12 March.
Members of the Association from across the Highlands and Islands gathered at Queen’s Barracks for the day of briefings and discussion on a range of RFCA and defence-related subjects.
Guest speakers were Lieutenant General Robin Brims, Chairman of the Council of RFCAs and Julian Brazier TD MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for Reserves.
Lt Gen Brims offered a fascinating insight into the challenges and opportunities represented by the RFCA 2020 programme, with Mr Brazier providing a wide-ranging and thought-provoking keynote address.
The speakers were bolstered by members of the Cadet Presentation Team. Kyle Buchan, Eilidh Urquhart and adult volunteer Marci Alzamora, described in their own words their experiences in the cadets and how they had benefitted personally.
A further contribution made to the day by the cadets was a rousing Beating Retreat by the Joint Army and Air Cadet Pipes and Drums. Mr Brazier, who took the salute, complimented them on their playing and drill.
The meeting’s afternoon session included single-service updates by senior leaders.
While acknowledging the scale of the military and budgetary challenges faced by each, the overall message was a positive one, particularly for Scotland: Reserve recruitment and retention remained on track; the Armed Forces continued to enjoy the support of the public and their elected representatives across Scotland; and the country would benefit from some of the most significant announcements made in the recent Strategic Defence and Security Review, including the basing in Scotland of all the Royal Navy’s submarines, the RAF’s new P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft and an additional squadron of Typhoon fast jets.
A common theme throughout the day was the important role played by HRFCA in supporting the Armed Forces and the Service Cadet organisations; the network that the Association represents and the wealth of knowledge and experience – and influence – available through its members provided continuity and stability in a rapidly-evolving social, political and economic landscape. As one speaker said: ‘If the RFCA didn’t exist we’d have to invent it’.
The AAM marked two more important events: firstly the retirement, after more than six years, of Association Chairman Colonel Angus Taverner, and the appointment of his successor, Captain Nick Dorman RD ADC RNR. And secondly, it was the inaugural AAM for Chief Executive Brigadier Mark Dodson MBE, now some ten months into the job.
The Chief Executive briefed the members on the highlights and achievements of HRFCA since the last AAM: while the Association remained in good health, a range of strategic challenges including new Service Level Agreements, Next Generation estates contracts and the ongoing pan-RFCA establishment review, each of which would have a bearing on the Association’s future business.
The AAM concluded with closing remarks from Rear Admiral Mike Gregory, President of HRFCA, who thanked all for their participation and continuing contributions to the Association.
Ultimately, though, the success of the day itself relied on the energetic and proactive support of the Commanding Officer of the 7th Battalion of The Royal Regiment of Scotland, Lieutenant Colonel Piers Strudwick, and his team who, as the resident unit at Queen’s Barracks provided the venue, facilities and personnel essential to the smooth running of the event, and whose contribution was gratefully acknowledged by the Association.
Go to our gallery section for images from the event, or click HERE.