President's Report 2012

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President’s Report 2012

At a time in the future when the history of the Association is reflected upon I believe two recent years will be considered as milestones in what has been a long and proud history.

The first of those is 2007 when the committee at that time led so effectively by President Ron Bryant and Secretary John Campbell had to face the reality that despite years of dedicated service time was their new enemy – one which couldn’t be stopped with a shell from a Bofors gun.

The decision had to be made to either allow the Association to fold or put out a ‘call to arms’ in the hope that the younger generation of the 2/3rd family would step up and ensure the continuance of the Association.

As we are all aware the latter decision was made and at an initial meeting of thirteen in 2007 the Remembrance Group (the name coined by the committee at that time) was formed charged with the responsibility of taking over the running of the Association.

Five years on from that landmark decision the Association continues as a viable entity.

Currently membership of the Remembrance Group stands at one hundred – a long way from the small beginnings in 2007.

The significance of this decision to invite the ‘younger’ generations to form a new administration thereby ensuring the continuation of the Association was brought home to me very clearly on reading the President’s report of the 2/12 Australian Field Regiment Members Association which appeared in their 2011 newsletter, ironically also called Take Post.

To quote part of President Dr Hugh Melville’s report to members:

“It has become obvious that the 2/12th Australian Field Regiment Members Association is running out of steam, as with all such unit associations from WWII. This is simply due to natural causes i.e. deaths and the ever increasing age of its members.

Your committee at its January meeting that at this year’s Annual General Meeting on September 29th, the affairs of the association would cease to function and that the Association would be disbanded”. Dr Melville continues:

“ This of course includes the production of Take Post which has been such a binding factor in maintaining the ‘esprit de corps’ of the Association. This issue will therefore be the final issue.”

Clearly had it not been for the ‘call to arms’ made by Ron Bryant and his committee in 2007 and importantly the positive response to that appeal, our Association may well have been in an identical position.

The second milestone year in the Association’s recent history in my opinion is 2011. It was at last year’s AGM that the Association website was launched. Twelve months on the importance of this initiative cannot be overstated. As an interactive communications tool and a vehicle for presenting the 2/3rd story to a whole new audience it is proving to be a wonderful asset.

All credit for the success of this project goes to our tireless Secretary Colin Bragg ably supported by Research Officer David McDonald both of whom have devoted hundreds of hours to making the website a reality.

One associated but very tangible benefit of developing the website has been the many contributions made by members and their families of photographs, documents and other valuable material which may have been lost over time and now thanks modern technology can be preserved and viewed in an appropriate context. More detail on the website is contained in the Secretary’s report.

Together with the launch of the website last year, we were able to announce the digitisation of  ‘On Target’ the increasingly rare book of the Regiment’s history. As a result this can now be accessed via the website. These are vital contributions to preserving the  history of the Regiment and the Association.

As well as acknowledging the power of work done by Colin and David in establishing and maintaining the website I want to thank the other members of the committee who continue to demonstrate a strong commitment to the Association and its members – Vice President Matthew Heddle, Treasurer Ann Bragg, together with Anne Rae and Graeme Heddle.

Congratulations also to Colin for the outstanding job he has done in sourcing material for then producing Take Post to a standard, which reflects well on our Association.

Sadly each year we lose more of our most treasured asset – our original 2/3rd ‘boys’. Amongst those we have lost since last year’s AGM were three stalwarts of the Regiment and the Association ‘Banner Man’ Dave Thomson, long term (61 years) Association Treasurer John Hepworth and just last month Immediate Past President Ron Bryant, the driving force behind the formation of the Remembrance Group.                             Fortuitously there was a feature article on Dave in last year’s Take Post, which he undoubtedly enjoyed contributing to and subsequently reading. A detailed tribute to John, which featured in the Melbourne Age is reprinted in this edition. A summary of Ron’s significant contribution to the Regiment and the Association is also included.

Although the ranks of the original members are thinning what doesn’t diminish is the continued support and encouragement the committee receives from our ‘vets’ and for that I thank them most sincerely.

In summary much has been achieved since this administration was handed the baton in 2007. However there is no room for complacency. In the Secretary’s report, Colin notes that a number of members have not renewed their membership. This is a concern. If we are to build on the achievements to date and ensure the viability of the Association into the future we need the continued support of all members. I am confident the Association will receive that support.