It seems hard to believe that we now find ourselves a matter of days before Christmas and the end of 2020 is nearly upon us. I am sure that you will agree that this has been a year that we could never have imagined. Now is perhaps the time to consider all that is good about what we are as an Association, and the strength that we have shown during an incredibly challenging period. The RAF community has always pulled together and our Association plays a central role in this. If I could think of one word that embodies the tremendous work branches have done over this past ten months, it is ‘together’. We are stronger for our unity and whilst there are undoubtedly challenges ahead, we will face them together. The world has changed, but our approach has remained steadfast – and you have all made a difference. This Branch Bulletin, sent to Branch chairmen, committee members, and RMGs for whom we have points of contact, focuses on: The 3 December letter to branches from the Association President, and the Association ChairmanBranch Clubs and Local Authority Business Support Grants2019 Area ReviewsThe Association webinar held on 18 November 2020 Please do share this Branch Bulletin with committee members who may not have seen it. Some information may also be of interest to your members so please feel free to use those elements in your communications with them.
Letter from the Association’s President and Chair of Council On 3 December our President Air Marshal Sir Baz North, and Chairman of Council Air Vice-Marshal John Cliffe co-wrote to all branch chairs to outline the significant challenges that the Association has faced this year. They offered their sincere thanks to branch committees for their stewardship and management of their branches throughout what they described as the most worrying year since 1945. For completeness, their letter can be found below:
Branch Clubs – Local Authority Business Support Grants You will undoubtedly be aware the second national COVID-19 lockdown across England was replaced by a 3-tier system on Wednesday 2 December, with different restrictions in place throughout Scotland and Wales. Across the entire UK these restrictions continue to present real difficulties for our Branch Clubs to reopen safely, if at all, and we would like to take this opportunity to thank those among you, that are working hard in our Branch Clubs during these very tough times. You may find it useful to check the Government’s criteria for each Tier:
Direct advice and guidance has already gone out in respect of local authority business support grants that Branch Clubs may be entitled to and it is heartening to see that successful claims are being made. I remind those Branch Clubs that reopened during the summer and early autumn (following the end of the first lockdown), but were subsequently forced to close again under the second national lockdown, that they might be eligible to make an additional claim to respective local authorities for a Local Restrictions Support Grant (or similar in Scotland and Wales). In the hope this additional support will help, you are invited you to read the Government’s latest guidance in this regard:
The Government has also now released information on a Christmas Support Payment for Wet-Led Pubs, and I encourage Branch Clubs to pursue this one-off grant if eligible:
2019 Area Reviews As we are all aware, the pandemic prevented Area Conferences taking place in 2020, and this challenge will likely continue onto 2021. For Area Conferences we produce a brochure in the form of the Area Review. We have extracted event specific elements of each of the 2019 Reviews that would have been published for each of the Area Conferences
14 November 2020 Members’ Update (Webinar) A reminder again here that 14 November saw the Association present a Members’ Update, in lieu of Annual Conference that could not be held this year. As previously noted, Air Marshal Sir Baz North, and Mr Phil Tagg were re-appointed as the Association President and Treasurer respectively; and RSM UK Audit LLP was re-elected as the Association auditor for 2020. The Council report, financial report and annual plan were delivered by the Chairman of Council, Treasurer and Secretary General during the webinar, the recording of which can be watched via YouTube:
The questions and answers that were raised before and during the seminar can also be found below:
Finally I am not too sure how to easily round off perhaps the most challenging period our Association has faced, beyond saying thank you. What a year it has been, and without your stewardship of your branches and the leadership that runs alongside we would not have achieved all that we have in 2020. I’d like to remind you once again that Project ENTERTAIN is back, and keeping our RAF community connected – especially over the Christmas period, so do tune in to our Facebook pageon Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week to boost your fitness, listen to interesting interviews and sing along with some of our favourite musical performers. Christmas Eve’s Carol Service from the Brass Quintet from the Central Band of the RAF, in particular, is a treat in store. We hope you can join us – and please do spread the work to anyone else you think would enjoy the sessions.
So, as we enter this festive period, I hope that you, your families, loved ones, friends and members enjoy a safe and peaceful time. I offer you the Association’s wholehearted thanks for all that you do, for there is much to be proud of. The New Year will begin soon enough, with all that it will bring, and we will move forward – together. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and every good fortune for 2021. Del Rowlands
Director of Branch and Membership Operations