To remind all members that the 2016/2017 membership year comes to an end on 300 June and as a result subscriptions (at present R100) are due as from 1 July 2017.
A number of members have already paid their subs for the coming year and if this fact will be indicated in the covering email to which this newsletter is attached.
If there is no such indication then your subs are due. If you are in this second group but have in fact already paid then please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Twentieth Annual General Meeting
Chairman's Report 2016/2017
When writing this report, it came as something of a shock to discover that this is in fact my eleventh report since becoming Chairman. It has been a singular honour being chairman of such a group of people, whose dedication to the objectives of the Trust is unfailing and unconditional. This is the 20th Annual General Meeting and we are stronger today than we have ever been. That in itself is a remarkable achievement - but is the direct result of the Trust's successes.
This last year has been a year of consolidation following the abrupt change of attitude towards us by members of the SA Navy. You will recall that our last AGM was postponed as we came to terms with the ultimatum that we had received from FOF. This necessitated that we move our offices from the Naval Museum to a room which was available here at the Simon's Town Museum. The move has proved to be an advantageous one and we began working from here by installing a dehumidifier to make the place more comfortable and to prevent damage to our records. We have an excellent relationship with the Simons Town Museum and we thank Mrs Cathy Salter-Jansen and her staff for their co-operation.
The move took much time and effort and I must thank Commander Eddie Wesselo, Les Gale and Captain Glen Knox for all the work that they did. Since we are no longer able to assist the Navy Museum in any way, the work done by our volunteers has reduced considerably and only Eddie and Les now work in the office once a week. My thanks to them for keeping the office in order. My thanks too to the old Museum volunteers who did so much in the past.
We are assisting the Simons Town Museum by paying for essential restoration work on the door to our office.
In the office, we store copies of our digests and the books that we have published. These are listed on our website and are available at various bookshops, particularly Larij Works in Simon's Town. My thanks to Glen who has really upped the marketing and sales of these books.
On the subject of digests, we published two this year: No 24 on Anglo - South African relations during the years 1936 to 1976, and no 25 being a collection of documents of naval interest. Admiral Chris Bennett must be thanked for all the work that he has put into these publications. The amount of effort involved is enormous but all of this has kept the costs down and consequently we are able to provide our members with these digests for the nominal membership fee.
In addition to producing two digests, Chris also overseen the reprinting of digest no 3, of which we had no more copies. Chris was also deeply involved in the publication of Nick Ward's book Troopship Mendi - The Black Titanic, in time for the centenary of the sinking of the SS Mendi.
At the beginning, one of the projects that the trustees set for themselves was to build up a library of oral histories. We now have done 132 of these and all but a few have been transcribed for permanent record. Unfortunately 15 of the original histories have been lost through technology and cannot be trabscribed. These oral histories come from Able Seamen through to Admirals, men and women of the service as well as some navy wives - whose tales might be even more interesting than those of their husbands. My thanks once again to Eddie and Glen for their work on this project.
Those two gentlemen have also kept up our website and Facebook page respectively. At last count, we had over 3600 followers on Facebook. In one year.
Captain Trunell Morom has been a patient and wonderful minutes secretary. In addition, she negotiated with the trustees of the SAS Unitie Trust to hand over their records and funds to the Naval Heritage Trust for safekeeping. It was agreed that the money will be used to research and publish a book on the history of the reserve units, SAS Unitie being the prime example.
During the year, we had an opportunity to try to save CPO Hicks' Navy Cross and Adm Halifax's medals for South Africa. Unfortunately, overseas bidders have far more resources than we do and we were outbid at the auction, but we have learned from this experience and will be prepared should any other objects of interest come up for sale.
The Trust has been represented and laid a wreath at both the centenary memorial parade to honour the men of the SS Mendi and at the annual Gunners' Memorial Parade.
I now come to our finances and I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Commander Herb Farrow who was our Treasurer for so many years. Herb fitted the management of the Trust's money into a very tight schedule and the work of several charities and foundations. We are most grateful to him for doing this for so long and so diligently - and for recommending to us Mrs Glynnis Helleman who has taken over from him and has been a star.
I want to thank all the trustees and members of the executive committee mentioned and including Admiral Arne Soderlund, Alderman Nicki Holderness, Commander Mac Bisset and Warrant Andre Wessels who attend monthly meetings and offer informed and practical advice. In addition, I want to mention Warrant Harry Croome whose commitment to naval heritage is remarkable.
This society of like-minded men and women is a rare example of people who get together and tackle projects for no reason other than the sheer pleasure of the knowledge that history has been recorded - and recorded accurately.