On Saturday 24 March, more than 100 HRFCA members from across Scotland gathered at Queen’s Barracks in Perth for the Annual Association Meeting (AAM).
In contrast to the recent wintry weather they were greeted with spring sunshine, providing an opportunity for many to catch up with friends outside before making their way into the 7 SCOTS drill hall, transformed once again for the occasion into a mini-conference centre.
Following the Business Meeting part of the day, during which office bearers were elected or re-elected, HRFCA Chief Executive, Brigadier Mark Dodson, provided his annual review and State of the Nation report.
In underlining the efforts made to manage the challenging financial environment which the Association, in common with its contemporaries across the UK, finds itself, he pointed to a range of activities and infrastructure projects, either under way – such as the replacement of Bruce House in Dunfermline – or already completed, including the Arbroath Joint Cadet centre finished in March 2018, which demonstrate real progress.
The Chief Executive’s report was followed by this year’s keynote speaker, Mr Keith Brown MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work and Scottish Veterans’ Minister.
Mr Brown provided a summary of the Scottish Government’s support to the armed forces community, including the cadets organisations, reservists and veterans. He described how initiatives such as the cadets’ Linked Detachment programme, the reserve-friendly policies of public sector employers, and the Veterans’ Employability Strategy Group all contributed to the Government’s commitment to the wider armed forces family.
Following a lively Q&A session, the meeting was then provided with a series of updates from senior Service leaders, focusing in turn on: the Council of Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Associations; the Royal Navy; the RAF, including the latest plans to mark the Service’s Centenary; and on the Army, including future basing decisions.
These, together with the announcement by HRFCA Chairman Captain Nick Dorman RNR of the launch of the Highland Cadet Forces Trust, and closing remarks by Association President, Rear Admiral Mike Gregory, made for what was generally considered to be a stimulating and enjoyable series of briefings.
Members also enjoyed a musical interlude stylishly provided by the RAF Central Scotland Pipes and Drums, a buffet lunch served by Heaven Scent, and an opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new ones.
The Association would like to extend its thanks to all those who contributed to a most successful AAM, including in particular: Lieutenant Colonel Matt Sheldrick, CO 7 SCOTS, and his team, who once again hosted the event at Queen’s Barracks; Air Vice Marshal Ross Paterson, Air Officer Scotland, for providing the Pipes and Drums; and the guest speakers, whose expert knowledge and openness was appreciated by all.
To view more images from the event, click HERE.