This is a sad day for us all with the death of our beloved Queen Elizabeth II announced on Thursday and I’m truly sorry I can’t be with you as I am abroad. We should of course celebrate this, the 90th anniversary of our Regimental Reunion, but it is also a time for us to reflect on the qualities of service and dedication so openly displayed by Queen Elizabeth. Her selfless and enduring commitment was a reminder that service and duty to the whole comes before personal ambition and motive. We shall all miss her guiding wisdom and I know that we will all offer the same sense of loyalty to our King Charles III.
Moving now to the Association’s evolution, you will recall, no doubt, that the Working Party for Restructure came to some important conclusions. First there was an overwhelming desire to continue the Association but for it to become a closer and a more cohesive organisation displaying greater transparency and inclusivity. There are many moving parts within it and some rationalisation was clearly required. The Working Party has done a thoroughly effective job in reaching solutions, and with the aid of the legal profession a new structural model has emerged. From midnight tonight, the old Association will cease to exist and the new Association formed as a fully legal entity as an incorporated company, managed by a Board of Directors and guided by the Branches, will take on the Association’s affairs. I attended the final Executive Committee meeting earlier this week and I am aware that there was initially some concern that the Branches would not be sufficiently represented. As I hope you know, and to allay those fears, anyone can apply to become a Director and we will continue to have Branch Forums during the year; the vast majority of the Directors are members of Branches so I am confident your views will be heard.
Although there is still more to do on the restructuring particularly with our two charities, I do hope we can now get on with the important operational stuff to make sure you the members have a purposeful and fulfilling experience within active and enthusiastic branches. We will also be looking at recruitment and membership in the coming months to ensure that our functions as an Association, which are to ensure the welfare of our members and to the preserve the heritage of the Royal Sussex Regiment, are carried forward for as long as we are able. I am also confident that the team of Directors and the Branch Officers we currently have in place will see this through effectively. I would like to thank them all for their considerable commitment but specifically I would like to pay a public tribute to Barry Lane who has worked tirelessly for us all. His commitment to the Association and his dedication to duty is second to none. I remind you that he is not only our chairman but he is also the secretary and now treasurer. Without Barry we would find ourselves in a very difficult situation indeed and here I must invite anyone who feels they can give a little time to help him out – please consider this most seriously.
Finally, and I’m afraid that this is a somewhat downbeat message, I must say to you that I have been disappointed by the tone in which the debate on the dress code has been conducted in certain quarters. The unfortunate use of words adopted by a few, disrespects the honour and integrity of our former profession and whatever the outcome of this debate we must treat each other with respect. There are many who have not served in the Forces who are already actively engaged in our administration to great effect. Perhaps those who remain critical of their enthusiasm and dedication to the Association might take a leaf out of their book and offer to help rather than to sit on the side-lines and criticise. We need positivity to survive as negativity will hasten our demise.
On a more optimistic note there is much to look forward to in our newly styled Association and to reiterate an earlier point, I have great confidence that we will be in a better place for it, allowing us to remain viable and to prosper. Enjoy this special occasion, let us recall our past Monarch with love and affection as I know we do and I look forward to seeing you in the near future.
Douglas McCully, President