March Branch re-dedication of the RNOC Standard and 10 year anniversary

On Sunday 6th July 2014, shipmates from March Branch held a ‘parade for the dedication and laying up the replacement Standard of the March Branch of the Royal Naval Old Comrades Association destroyed in an arson attack on St Mary’s Church March 4 years ago when the Church was virtually destroyed and just the walls remaining the rest reduced to ashes.’1 Shipmates from March RNA extended an invite for other Branches to parade their Standards at the ceremony; Huntingdon & District Branch were also invited, and so S/Ms Karl Webb and Derrick Morgan arrived at St Mary’s with their Branch Standard.

S/M Karl Webb, Huntingdon & District Branch joins fellow shipmates for the ceremony

S/M Karl Webb, Huntingdon & District Branch joins fellow shipmates for the ceremony

The Standard Bearers were welcomed by March RNA S/Ms Bill Barry (President), Terence Shad (Chairman), Ted Rasell (Hon. Secretary) and other members. The Deputy Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire and the Rev’d Anthony Chandler (March RNA’s chaplain) also spoke with everyone before heading off to the church.

The Deputy Lieutenant is accompanied by the Rev'd Anthony Chandler

The Deputy Lieutenant is accompanied by the Rev’d Anthony Chandler

With the VIPs inside the church, it was time to march the Standard Bearers up to St Mary’s to line the route for the remaining shipmates and guests. S/M Les Lane, as Ceremonial Officer, ensured that all went to plan.

Area and Branch Standards paraded en route

Area and Branch Standards paraded en route

Inside the church, the Area and March Branch Standards were laid upon the alter, the RNOC Standard was marched in and also laid across the alter. The service began with the hymn ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ before the RNOC Standard was ‘advanced to the Altar rail’2 for the Bidding and Act of Dedication. After singing ‘Eternal Father, Strong to Save’ (for those in Peril on the Sea) and prayers for the Queen, for Peace, and for the Royal Navy, it was time for the Laying Up of the Standard (a rare occasion as the Standard was being Dedicated and Laid Up in the same ceremony).

A full church

A full church

On completion of the Act of Remembrance, Last Post and Two Minutes Silence, the RNOC Standard was remounted in the church – back where it belonged.

The day was not over, March Branch were also celebrating their 10th anniversary of their formation within the RNA. All participants of the re-dedication ceremony were invited back to the Rev’d Anthony Chandler’s house for a BBQ to continue with the celebrations.

The celebration continues with a BBQ

The celebration continues with a BBQ

Of course, one of the first activities was a traditional ‘tot’ for the Standard Bearers – and well deserved by those who represented their Area and Branch.

Standard Bearers receive their tot of Pusser's Rum

Standard Bearers receive their tot of Pusser’s Rum

Shipmates were called to dinner in the traditional way…

Shipmates had plenty of time to spin a few dits and to get to know each other better, March Branch had their formation certificate and Branch records on display, as well as a cake to celebrate the day.

The anniversary cake

The anniversary cake

S/Ms Karl Webb and Derrick Morgan felt very welcome at the BBQ, meeting with shipmates, Councillors, and the Mayor of March, a real example of close collaboration with other Branches and associations.

S/Ms Karl Webb and Derrick Morgan

S/Ms Karl Webb and Derrick Morgan

Also invited to the day’s activities was the National Council Member for No 5 Area, he also expressed his thanks for the invitation and for being allowed to participate in the re-dedication ceremony.

No 5 Area NCM thanks all those who attended the ceremony

No 5 Area NCM thanks all those who attended the ceremony

As the day drew to a close, it was time for the anniversary cake to be cut and the raffle to be drawn.

The cake is cut

The cake is cut

The day was very special to members of March Branch, but clearly, it was important to all shipmates from branches far and wide. This is what the RNA is about, Unity, Loyalty, Patriotism, and Comradeship. Thank you for inviting us shipmates, we look forward to the next time.

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To see more images of the re-dedication ceremony and Branch BBQ, click on the first thumbnail below and scroll through the images.

Standard Bearers gather for the ceremony S/M Karl Webb represents Huntingdon & District Branch The Branch Padre and DL of Cambridgeshire arrive ...followed by the Area and Branch Standards
Standard Bearers line the route to the church Order Standards The church is full The RNOC Standard is laid-up
Standard Bearers form up as guests depart St. Mary's Church The ship's bell from Submarine L-6 The BBQ food is cooked to perfection Good job the Rev'd Chandler has a large garden
Standard Bearers line up for the traditional tot A great day to celebrate the March Branch ten year anniversary Shipmates spinning a few dits...it's what it is all about The anniversary cake
S/Ms Karl Webb and Derrick Morgan enjoying the hospitality from March Branch members And so the BBQ continues Time for a few thank you messages] ...and from special guests
...from the National Council Member for No 5 Area Time for more dits ...before the cake is cut The day ends with a raffle
  1. March RNA (2014) March RNA Dedication and Laying up of the RNOC Standard, Semaphore Circular [June 2014] []
  2. March RNA Order of Service, June 2014 []

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