Presidents Report - Autumn 2017
2017 is going to be a busy and hopefully an interesting year for the Division. The Avalon Airshow 2017 was a great opportunity to promote the Association. This year we were accompanied by B24 Liberator Restoration who placed a Norden Bombsight on display. Together we attracted a good deal of interest. I’d like to thank Bob Brackin who negotiated the space with Avalon Airshow management and organised the display. Also, a big thank you to the many volunteers who staffed the stand over the Trade and Public Days.
In February, we welcomed two new branches, the 2SQN Branch and the RAF Branch. That’s nearly 100 additional members, but it is not the number of members that we should crow about. The Association is about making current and new members feel their membership is worthwhile and are getting enjoyment from their membership.
Several 2SQN Branch members reside in the NT and, although their attendance at functions may not occur, we’ll be making sure they are ‘kept in the loop’ on social and veteran matters.
We will be vigorously pursuing the reactivation of the Gippsland and Geelong Branches during the next two months.
B24 Liberator Restoration has agreed to come ‘on-board’ and I am also negotiating ‘Branch membership’ with another association.
Late last year I was approached by a local historian from Tetbury, UK regarding a centenary commemoration of 1st Wing Australian Flying Corps that trained for aerial combat from two adjacent airfields. Twenty-three AFC airmen died in training accidents and are buried in the local church cemetery. The Air Force Association National Council agreed to fund a bronze plaque to pay tribute to the kindred relationship that existed between the AFC airmen and the Tetbury community that has honoured their memory for 100 years. I will present the plaque to the township on Remembrance Day this year.
I am very pleased to announce that William ‘Bill’ Belton, AM a former Division President and long standing Board Member, has been granted Life Membership of the Air Force Association. His Life Membership Certificate will be formally presented at the Division’s Annual General Meeting to be held on May 11th, 2017. I very much am looking forward to the occasion.
The Division kindly promoted its Care Parcel Program to the National level making it an Air Force Association National Program. The last dispatch of parcels that reached our deployed Air Force personnel in time for Christmas brought many heartwarming accolades, testimony to the program’s success in boosting morale. Victorian Division will continue to manage the program on behalf of the Association. This very generous gesture was acknowledged by the National President AVM Brent Espeland, AM (Retd).
ANZAC Day 2017 Melbourne CBD March will have a special feature. Air Commodore Jenny Lumsden CSC will be the Leader of the March – most likely the first female officer to do so. Jenny is a veteran of multiple deployments and I was very pleased on behalf of the Board, to nominate her for the role. Air Commodore Rowan Story, AM RFD will lead the RAAF Group.
Finally, I ask you look for the notice regarding April’s ‘Meet a Mate’ event. It will be the first of this type of excursion that will include members and non-members to gather for a social outing. First up is the B24 Liberator Restoration Australia hangar at Werribee and lunch.
Carl Schiller, OAM CSM