Navy veterans want new blood ahead of centenary

Naval veterans in Sidmouth are looking for new members as their association celebrates its centenary at a special dinner this week.

The leaders of the Royal Naval Old Comrades say tradition has ‘gone by the board’, and need an influx of ex-servicemen to keep the tradition alive.

The plea comes ahead of Tuesday’s celebrations, as members recognise 100 years of camaraderie between Sidmouth sailors.

Founded in 1912 by five ex-navy men in the town, its members say they have a common bond they all share, and enjoy the fellowship it brings.

President Bill Craven said: “When you live in such a small community for such a long time, it stays with you, you’re marked for life.”

The association meets several times a year, usually with talks on naval matters, but sometimes just to tell stories from their time at sea.

Chairman Richard Long, who has held nearly every position of office in his 50-year membership, now hopes to encourage the younger generation to join them.

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A statement produced by the association on its future reads: “The pride that older members has for the Royal Navy which was passed on to the associations has now gone, and now only a few people show an interest at all.

“Being one of the oldest associations in Britain is a proud boast, but I can only be kept alive by the influx of younger ex-Royal Nay and ex-Royal Marines in the Sidmouth area.”

Bill said the depletion of the naval force has meant a smaller base for them to draw from, but added anyone who is interested can join as an associate member.

Indeed their secretary, Tom DeRemer, is an American who served in the air force.

He said he wanted to thank the Sid Vale Association, which has agreed to plant the Sidmouth Royal Naval Old Comrades logo in the iconic flowerbed at the Triangle for the summer.

And the dinner is on Tuesday, May 8, at the Bedford Hotel, exactly 100 years since W Butteris, E Channon, W Framer, WS Purchase and W Trick formed the association.

Anyone interested should contact the Richard on 01395 515817 or Tom on 01395 512412.