On Sunday 8th September 2013, shipmate Karl Webb, Hon. Secretary for Huntingdon & District Branch drove down to St Neots to meet up with shipmate Keith Ridley, Chairman of St Neots & District Branch.1 S/Ms Karl Webb and Keith Ridley then drove down to London in order to join the 500+ members of the Royal Naval Association for the 2013 Biennial Parade at the Cenotaph.
There were 58 National, Area, and Branch Standards2 on parade (including Huntingdon, and St Neots Branch Standards carried by S/Ms Karl Webb and Keith Ridley).
A full review of the day can be read on the official RNA website. The excellent photographs used in this post were taken by shipmate Nigel Huxtable, Assistant General Secretary, RNA HQ (thank you Nigel).
As shipmates took to their positions, S/M Keith Ridley spotted the Standard of the HMS Glamorgan Association; S/M Karl Webb spotted that the Standard was being carried by an old friend, Eon Matthews, former Chairman of Seaford Branch.3 Karl and Eon had been Sea Cadets together over 30 years ago! Of course, there was no time to discuss old times as the Parade was about to begin…
A proud moment as shipmates marched into Whitehall and headed towards the Cenotaph.
The National Council, and our National Standard bearer, took to their positions.
Branch Standards were lined up in front of the Cenotaph.
Once the National Council, Standard Bearers, Shipmates and Arctic Veterans were in place, the VIPs arrived; Guest of honour and Reviewing Officer, Vice Admiral David Steele CBE, and the Rt Hon. Mark Francois MP, along with our National President, General Secretary, and Fleet Padre.
This year was made even more special; a presentation of the Arctic Star was to be awarded to 11 veterans, a recognition that some never thought would happen.
Looks like the weather forecast was wrong.
With everyone in position, our National President, Vice Admiral John McAnally thanked everyone for attending the parade, and then handed over to the RNA’s Honorary National Chaplain, the Reverend Scott J. Brown, for the Blessing and prayers.
It was good to see the generations being represented, from the Second World War and our Arctic Convoy veterans, those who served around the 60-90s, more recent retirees, and finally, the latest recruits still undergoing their basic training.
Our guest of honour was the Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral David Steel CBE; he also thanked all attendees and members of the public (who lined the street to watch the ceremony) for being at the Cenotaph for our Biennial Parade.
The Arctic Medal presentations followed the Second Sea Lord’s speech.
The Second Sea Lord was then introduced to the National Council as the rest of the Parade prepared to march out of Whitehall.
The band, provided by the Sea Cadet Corps, led the way, our duties done.
Once out of Whitehall, the Standard Bearers, shipmates and guests were brought into line for a final word of thanks by the Rt Hon. Mark Francois MP, before being dismissed in order to celebrate with a couple drinks (and a well-earned tot for Standard Bearers) and some food in the Civil Service Club.
The atmosphere inside the Civil Service Club was amazing, shipmates from all branches were spinning dits, long-lost friendships were reacquainted, new ones formed. S/Ms Karl Webb and Eon Matthews managed to catch up on the past 30 years; hopefully, it won’t be that long before a ‘few’ pints can be shared again!
This was a great event, and one that all members of the RNA should try to take part in. After some food and our ‘tot’, S/Ms Keith Ridley and Karl Webb had time for a quick photo call before returning to Cambridgeshire.
The full gallery of images taken during the day can be seen on the Official RNA Website.