PARACHUTE REGIMENTAL ASSOCIATION, LEICESTER BRANCH
CHAIRMAN'S REPORT FOR 2016
Chairman, John Gibbard
REPORT for 2015
The Leicester Branch started this year reasonably well, having recruited three new members and more in the pipeline. We have also welcomed a new Honorary Member to the Branch, Alec Wilson, whose tireless efforts helped to make our Somerby 70th Memorial Weekend such a success last year. Alec's father was a serving member of 10 Para during the 2nd World War and he has an extensive knowledge of all sections and history of the Regiment.
On the subject of Somerby, at the March meeting, the Branch was presented with a photo album by the Somerby Photographic Society, an excellent record of the events of the 70th Anniversary Weekend in 2014. We have also received copies of a DVD compiled by the 'Pixel Cafe', three ex students from the Melton campus of Brooksby Melton College. 'The Pixels' spent three intensive days at Somerby filming the exhibition, parade and service, another lasting reminder of an excellent weekend. Plans are already under way for the 2016 service to be held on Sunday 11th September.
Sadly we have lost our two final Branch Arnhem Veterans. Gordon Penfold, ex 3 Para, who died, aged 89, in February, his funeral was attended by the Branch Standard Bearer. Also Gerry Dimmock, ex 10 Para, who played such a large part in the Somerby 70th Anniversary, aged 94, who died in November. Gerry was laid to rest in his beloved Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland.
We are currently averaging around ten members at our monthly meetings but have several new members on our books, not always able to attend meetings but kept in touch with Branch events.
Our current financial position is sound although we do not generate a lot of money as a branch, relying on raffles at our social events for our main income. We are, however, planning a fund raising collection day in early 2016 to enable us to continue supporting our members and their widows and also to ensure the future of the Branch.
We try to ensure that Branch Widows are invited to all events, arranging transport wherever possible, though both members and widows are now less inclined to travel.
Several members joined the Nottingham Branch at the Hog's Head for lunch in April. We were all made most welcome and it is hoped that Nottingham / Newark Branch members will be able to join us at future events in Leicester.
Members also attended the Memorial Day at the National Arboretum in June, slightly spoilt by the weather but well attended nevertheless. We also had members present at the Regional Dinner in October.
Several members and the Standard Bearer attended the plaque dedication to the 156 Battalion at Melton on October 17th, and were also present at the Memorial Service on Saltby Airfield on the previous day.
Our Christmas dinner was well attended and our Guest of Honour was Captain Sean ('Pinky') Phillips, OC D Company 4th Battalion, who we are now proud to have as a member of the Leicester Branch.
We held our AGM in December, the Officers posts were largely unchanged. The Chairman, John Gibbard, has also taken over the role of Secretary. The minutes being taken and processed at present by our Treasurer, Mrs Madeline Gibbard, who also deals with correspondence alongside the Chairman / Secretary.
Our standard Bearer, John Gibbard, continues to represent us at many official functions in and around Leicestershire, including the Flag Raising Ceremony for Armed Forces Day at County Hall and also the Remembrance Day Commemorations on November 11th, also at County Hall. John was also present at the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance at De Montfort Hall in Leicester.
Our main problem in attending various functions is travelling. Many of our members no longer drive and we are currently not financially able to provide a mini-bus to events. We are hoping that our fund raising collection may go some way to alleviating this problem.
We now have a website for the Leicester branch, www.leicesterparas.co.uk put together by our Honorary Member, Alec Wilson. He has taken on the task of developing this and keeping it up to date. It has already generated a lot of interest and we are very grateful to Alec for offering to do this - we feel that it is definitely the way forward, particularly in trying to attract new members.
Our meetings are held on the first Sunday in every month at the West Leicester Conservative Club, Westcotes Drive, Leicester LE3 0QU, starting at 11.00am. We welcome anyone who wishes to join us.