As I write these notes we are fast approaching Christmas and I reflect that I have now been in post for exactly a year – and it seems to have flown past.  The West Midland Reserve Forces & Cadets Association has been as busy as ever in 2018 in delivering support to the tri-service Reserves and cadets across the region, through maintaining and improving the estate, conducting advocacy and engagement and supporting youth and cadets – and helping to keep the Armed Forces connected to society.  I’d like to thank all our partners, friends and Association members for their continued support this year and for being that advocate for the Armed Forces – please keep doing so!

Our dedicated team of cadet Professional Support Staff, some 40 strong, have continued to provide front line support to all the Army Cadet Force counties, to enable delivery of the Cadet Experience.  This includes supporting summer camps and training weekends, as well as closely monitoring the infrastructure at the various cadet’s huts and training centres.  I particularly enjoyed visiting the four Army Cadet Force counties summer camps this year which were spread across the whole country. These are the highlight of the cadet year and the epitome of what the cadet experience is all about.  I was also fortunate enough to visit some of the local air cadets at camp in RAF Valley in Anglesey and the national RAF STEM camp at Syerston.  Next year, I plan to visit the Sea Cadets.  At the Council of RFCA Annual Briefing to all of her majesty’s Lord Lieutenants in London  a couple of weeks ago, it was notable that all of the single service and the Chief of Defence Staff himself highlighted how much value they place on the tri-service cadet organisations.

Our estates team have continued to not only keep the Reserve and cadet estate a safe place to work and train, but to seek every opportunity for improving and developing it too.  We were very successful earlier this year in clearing a backlog of literally hundreds of tasks and delivering a major improvement to the cadet training centre at Cannock Chase, primarily because we were able to react quickly to a last minute injection of funds from Defence.  We always have a number of fully costed plans on the shelf ready to go and we look forward to a similar injection before the end of the financial year this time!

It’s gratifying to note that nationally the Post Office have just become the 3000th signatory to the Armed Forces Covenant.  Regionally the Armed Forces Covenant partnerships are very active and many of our Association members are engaged with those.  Linked to that one of the highlights of our year was the employer recognition Scheme Silver Awards where Air Vice Marshal (Ret’d) Aroop Mozumder CB presented some 14 Silver Employer Recognition Scheme Award winners this year. Nationally we were delighted that Wolverhampton Council and the Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic NHS Trust Hospital were this year’s Gold Award winners for the West Midlands region. The West Midlands region currently has 114 Bronze award winners 63 Silver Award winners and 8 Gold Awards winners since the scheme started in 2014.

Last month we held our Autumn Briefing in Sparkbrook Army Reserve Centre.  There were well over 100 attendees many of them Association members.  Whilst we need to tweak the format in future, I see these as extremely important events, for briefing our Association members and our friends on what is going on with the Reserves and cadets, nationally and in the region.  We are very reliant on you to spread the word and be advocates for not just the Reserves and cadets, but the wider military communities too, including our veterans, military families, and the regular forces too.  Essentially connecting the Armed Forces with society, one of our key roles.  Next year I intend to run two of these events in the region, one on 23 October and the other on 20 November.  Details will follow.  Our 2019 AGM takes place in Warwick, on 8 May.

I’d like to thank all our Association members and our friends for their continued support this year.  We need you to keep being the advocates for the Armed Forces and to continue to spread the word – please keep doing so!

On behalf of our President, Chairman and all of our staff, may I wish all our readers a peaceful and happy Christmas, and a prosperous New Year.  We look forward to seeing you in 2019.

Colonel (Ret’d) R Maybery QGM, Chief Executive of West Midland RFCA