This letter has been sent to all Branches and Trustees and is to be discussed at our Executive Committee meeting at Lewes on 9th September.
Please read it carefully and feed any comments to your Branch Secretary or to me on here.
The Royal Sussex Regimental Association 18th August 2017
Future of the Royal Sussex Regimental Association
and the Association Regulations
As we get older I am sometimes asked about the future of the Royal Sussex Regimental Association and what the future holds for it. If one is honest, the Regimental Association, in terms of its relationship to the Royal Sussex Regiment, will cease to exist when the last member who served in the Royal Sussex is finally gathered from his perch. The general aim of the Regimental Association is quite clear in this respect: its object is to safeguard the memories, traditions and heritage of The Royal Sussex Regiment, to foster comradeship among the members and friends of the former Royal Sussex Regiment and to safeguard the welfare of former members and of their dependants. The status of the President of the Association is similarly defined : the President will be a former officer of The Royal Sussex Regiment, who will act as the Chairman of the War Memorial Trust. When a former Royal Sussex officer is no longer available, the President will be ex officio the Lord Lieutenant of West or East Sussex. The fundamental issue in this is that our Regimental Association has no relationship with or to any other Regiment.
Please do not regard this as some sort of death knell as we actually have a very thriving Association and many other Regiments, including those only recently amalgamated, are astounded when they are informed of the number of members who attend our Annual Reunion Dinner in September. Indeed, most of the other old Home Counties Regiments have virtually packed up their Associations, so we have much to be proud about. Nevertheless, we do need to consider how we should play the future of the Association.
We are actually composed of two Associations: one is based on our Branch membership while the other consists of those members who do not belong to Branches as they tend not to live in Sussex, with many of them residing overseas. The members in the non-Branch element are nearly all ex-Royal Sussex and they are not generally in favour of widening the membership of the Association to include non-Royal Sussex members. This is a very plausible position but not a very active one in terms of the Associationís activities as they can normally only attend the Annual Reunion Dinner; a major commitment if you live in Australia, Canada, Malta, or the outer regions of the United Kingdom.
Conversely, the difficulty for the Branches is that they are organisations, which are committed throughout the year but do not have sufficient ex-Royal Sussex members to meet their wide range of responsibilities, such as welfare, benevolence, liaison and event participation with local authorities, Remembrance and Commemoration parades, as well as providing a decent social programme for their Branch members and their families and dependants. Therefore, there is a need for Branches to recruit some additional members to help them with their day-to-day commitments and one has to appreciate that most of these are unlikely to be ex-Royal Sussex. Nevertheless, before being accepted for membership, they must demonstrate their commitment to the Royal Sussex Regimentís values, standards and traditions.
As a start in recruiting terms, you will be aware that any son or grandson of anyone who served in the Royal Sussex Regiment is automatically entitled to become a full member, and these should be encouraged to join. We can still attract those that served in 3rd Queens or in the related Queenís and PWRR Associations. We should also actively endeavour to recruit ex-military members whose own regiment, corps or Service does not have an Association in Sussex, and we already have some excellent examples of what they can contribute.
We are able to recruit non-military members and our Rules do allow for this. However, we need to ensure that those we do take into the Association can demonstrate that have some special or particular quality that the Branch is seeking, and that they will be able to contribute to the betterment of the Branch. We should be careful that any non-military member does not seek to introduce his friends just for the sake of getting in more members, otherwise we will end up like the British Legion where virtually anyone can join, with the prospect of getting cheap beer etc. It is important, therefore, that Branches appoint a selection committee of four or so ex-military members who can interview and determine whether the potential member has gained an understanding of the Royal Sussex Regiment, and is going to be of value to the Branch and contribute to its well-being. This is important because this type of member could eventually be the mainstay of the Associationís long-term future. The Association Rules have been amended to reflect this (Paragraphs 6, 7 and 8) and a draft is attached for all Branches for discussion, and its approval or otherwise, before our next Executive Committee meeting, and subsequent Annual General Meeting.
What happens when the last Royal Sussex member has been gathered is another matter. This will need to be considered by the Associationís membership at the time, but understand that we remain The Royal Sussex Regimental Association until that day occurs. Branches should not start expanding the name and association of their Branch purely because the balance of the ex-Royal Sussex element is in the minority, i.e. Chichester has two Branches; one is Royal Sussex and the other is Queens. They may be co-located but they must remain as two separately constituted Branches, as each is subordinate to different Association conditions and rules. However, to spread the financial load, there is, of course, no reason why they cannot arrange some social functions on a joint basis.
I think it is important for Branches to maintain a steady interest in recruiting new members, and I know that Branches have been doing a great deal to put such a drive in place. I am also convinced that even when us lot have all dropped dead, that our Association, albeit under a different name, such as the Royal Sussex Memorial Association, must continue to maintain its purpose and Regimental identity, and provide a worthy representation of the Countyís Regiment.
Please ensure that this letter is brought to the attention of all your members so that your representatives can make a valuable contribution to our next Executive Committee meeting.
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