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Royal Naval Writers Association

Formed in 1887 - The Oldest Military Association

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Royal Naval Writers’ Association

The World’s Oldest Military Association – Est. 1887

Newsletter – December 2023

FROM THE CHAIRMAN, COLIN HUGHES

Fellow Scribes,

Tis the Season to be Jolly as the carol goes and I hope you are all looking forward to Christmas and the New Year.

This is a special newsletter to introduce the new officials and allow them to explain what has changed. Many of you will have seen in the AGM minutes and know that there have been some changes in the composition and personalities on the Committee. Our previous Secretary come Membership Secretary resigned for personal reasons. The dual hat task has been split between Lyn Gannon as the Secretary and Don McGeorge as the Membership Secretary, both valuable additions to the team.

They have already instigated changes to the website and the way we do business by cutting out a lot of bureaucracy. In addition, the Committee has agreed to an increase in Membership Fees and the way we pay them. The fees were last increased in 2002 from 2 to 5 pounds per annum and after 21 years it is time to bring the annual fee up to reflect the cost-of-living increases and inflation that has occurred in the last 21 years. The new annual fee will be £10. No one likes increases but we need to ensure that the Association remains viable and therefore I ask you to accept the change in the interests of the Association and its continued existence.

The Committee and I wish you all a very Happy and Holy Christmas and prosperous New Year and be assured that we are all working in your interests. I now hand you over to our Secretary.

FROM LYN GANNON – SECRETARY

Just a very brief introduction for anyone that does not know me – I joined in 1976 as a Writer (Pay), completed my cross training at HMS RALEIGH in 1988 (promoted to CPO Writer the same year), and was medically boarded from the Careers Service in 2000.
We are trying to streamline processes to make it easier for you, the members, to liaise with us. If you receive this newsletter by post but have access to the internet and an email address you can use, please go to the website – www.rnwa.co.uk – and sign up to receive it online, as this is the main, and most cost effective means of communication.

The Annual Reunion Dinner will be held on Friday 11 October 2024, at the Royal Maritime Hotel in Portsmouth (formerly known as the Home Club!) Click for more information. If you wish to get ahead of the game and book your accommodation, please quote the code GA000450 when booking to get the newly renegotiated discount rate of £130.50 for 2 people, bed and breakfast or £104.40 for single occupancy. Once details have been finalized, the application form and payment authority will be found online.

Tickets for the Grand National Draw will be sent out to all members in the New Year with details of the procedure for the draw and how to pay for your tickets. If you do NOT wish to receive tickets, or wish to receive more than the standard 2 books, please follow this linkhttps://rnwa.co.uk/contact-us to advise us.

All that is left is for me to say is:

FROM DON MCGEORGE – MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY

Since taking over the “membership” role from Les Heyhoe in October 2023 at the RNWA AGM, a body of work has been undertaken, with the full agreement of the Committee, to identify and develop various changes that are essential in keeping the Association relevant into the next 130 years and, of more crucial significance, developing and expanding the membership. In base terms – without the membership there is quite simply, no Association.

Some of these changes are evolutionary and will take time – in particular growing the membership database to make it more reflective of both the current carriers of the branch designation, and to attract and retain the interests of those that have now retired. This work is, of course, continual but is fundamental to the longevity of the RNWA.

In just a few months, we have already streamlined and simplified the processes of joining the Association, signing up for our Newsletter and contacting us – all easily achieved at www.rnwa.co.uk We are taking a more direct approach to advising the wider “writer” group of what is going on through a targeted use of the “RN Writers” Facebook page, keeping them all informed whilst happily promoting the RNWA. This is already paying dividends.

Other changes that are already underway include simplifying the processes of attendance at functions (notably the Annual Reunion dinner) and the new Secretary, Lyn Gannon, is already leading this through. Additionally, the inclusion of serving Writer personnel as co-opted members of the RNWA Committee, to advise and guide our thinking for the future, will be of immense value to us all.

More revolutionary has been a number of significant changes that have been led through with the full support of the Committee and are now underway.

Recognition by the RNWA of ALL Writers, whether members or not, when they “Cross the Bar”. We have all travelled the same career path, and we are delighted to be able to respect and honour them when they come to the end of their journey.

RNWA icon

Affiliation with our Australian counterparts, to share ideas and thoughts as they face the same challenges in the modern era that we do. This is still underway, but initial contacts and discussions have already been opened.

Application to the Royal British Legion for a place in the Veterans March Past at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday, and this is already being worked on for 2024 and beyond.

Alterations to the Governance of the Association that will ensure the continuity of those in key roles, and the committee in general, so that we are more able to work strategically for the future.

SUBSCRIPTIONS AND FEES

The RNWA is a “not for profit” organisation, and as such has always cut its cloth accordingly. In recent years however, the cost of living, processing cheques, postage costs and other factors have taken their toll and – as the Chairman explains in his opening address – we have had to review our financial model for the future. The annual subscription has stood at £5 for over 20 years, and it has been agreed that this needs to increase to £10 with effect 1 January 2024.

Additionally, the costs of simply setting up membership and issuing the documentation, lapel pins, running the website and the associated processes has become increasingly challenging when taken from annual subscriptions. An initial, one-off, enrolment fee was therefore put in place from November 2023 for all new membership applications, and this was set at £10, which is effectively a cost neutral evolution for the Association. In the process, we have reduced paperwork to a minimum, removed the outdated concept of applicants sending stamped addressed envelopes to receive formal documentation and, quite simply, modernised.

This payment needs to be made, direct to the RNWA bank account, before any applications can go further forward.

Both the annual subscription and the initial enrolment fee will now be reviewed – but not necessarily increased – on a 5-yearly basis, the first of which will take place before the year commencing 1 January 2029.

ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTIONS – PAYMENTS (NEW MEMBERS)

The concept of being required to pay more than 1 year at a time for subscriptions is flawed and has now been withdrawn.

With immediate effect, all new joiners are required to set up a Standing Order with their banks for payment of the annual subscriptions on the next 1 January, and annually thereafter; subscriptions due between joining the Association and 31 December of that year will be calculated on a pro-rata basis, and this should be paid at the same time as the initial joining fee. This will be clearly explained at the time of application for membership.

ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTIONS – PAYMENTS (CURRENT MEMBERS)

Again, payment of more than 1 year at a time is now withdrawn.

Those that have, however, already “forward paid” their subscriptions will simply mark time as fully paid up until the period for which they have subscribed comes to an end. There is no thought or intention to seek the revised annual subscriptions for these periods.

All others falling due for renewal in any year will be written to, individually, with a pro-rata subscription request from the anniversary of their initial membership until 31 December in the current year. They too will be invited to begin a Standing Order, payable from 1 January and annually thereafter, which will then simplify the collection processes and negate any need to remind members to pay subscriptions. Seniority as a member will remain the date accepted into membership, as currently.

It is fully appreciated and understood that some of our current members may not utilise online banking or are simply not prepared to adapt to this new thinking and we will, of course, continue to accept alternative payment methods.

(Some totally gratuitous images of the tot never go amiss…………)

WHY STANDING ORDER AND NOT DIRECT DEBIT?

Quite simply, cost and control. Direct Debits cost the Association to set up and administer. This an unnecessary financial liability given the static nature of the annual subscriptions that are being paid and, more importantly, Direct Debits take control of the amounts paid to the Association away from the individual members.

Standing Orders on the other hand are easily set up for a fixed amount and, at all times, are solely under the control of the individual members.

WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE A COMMON DATE OF 1 JANUARY?

The very simple answer is cash flow. If we can make it a feasible reality to have subscriptions paid at the beginning of the membership year, then we are able to budget and plan for the year ahead far more logically and sensibly. Currently, funds come in in unregulated amounts at various times throughout the year and, in many cases, simply don’t come in until either the following year – or not at all. Adopting this methodology will remove that uncertainty, reduce the requirement to chase members for payments and – in reality – take any concerns away from individuals as the payments will happen automatically until such time as they decide to cancel them and withdraw from the Association. However, whilst this is the ideal, the reality will be different, and we will work with our members to make the transition as seamless as possible – and this will vary by each individual. This is accepted.

……….and finally……

There is still a long way to go, and a lot to consider. But the Committee are fully supportive and committed to driving essential change forward as quickly and seamlessly as possible. I trust that this is seen positively by the wider membership, and we all continue to ask that, where identified, you encourage, assist and support those that COULD be members to take the next step and join THEIR Association.

And of course…………………

HAVE A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS – WHEREVER YOU HAPPEN TO BE ON THE DAY!!!

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