The Association Chairman's Page
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It is a year since I took over the reins from my predecessor, and I am pleased to report that the shrinkage of membership has been reversed, with more applications being processed as I write. Many Branches are thriving – but sadly others have found that they can no longer survive. Behind the loss of these Branches is a combination of lowering member numbers, the age of remaining members and – perhaps the overriding factor - a lack of willingness to take on the posts required to keep Branches viable. This is a problem experienced by other Associations and the Royal British Legion. Apart from recruiting new members, the remedy rests with stepping up to the plate and volunteering to take on positions within your Branches and I must encourage you all to think about this. Use it or lose it!

We have had an eventful year.The National Secretary has set about “fixing” some of the bits that were, if not completely broken, certainly less than serviceable. You will have noticed that the Association website has been given some spit and polish to make it more useful to us all, and I encourage you to use it to publicise Branch events. Membership application procedures including the issue of membership cards are once again fit for purpose. We have been well represented at many events across the country - and indeed further afield as wreaths were laid at the RAMC Memorial in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin on 25th June by the Representative Colonel Commandant RAMC, the Northern Ireland Branch and myself, supported by the Royal British Legion Republic of Ireland – see picture above.

We had a good turnout on Corps Day for the 125th anniversary of the founding of our Corps, and I trust we will have a similar attendance at Corps Day 2024, which is to be at the National Memorial Arboretum on 19th June.The Blue Book programme for 2024 is now published on the Association website, and you are encouraged to attend the various functions advertised there.

Remembrance Week in London saw wreaths being laid at the RAMC Memorials in Westminster RC Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, attendance at the Field of Remembrance and a contingent marching past the Cenotaph. Many individuals and Branches also took part in Remembrance functions across the country, ensuring that the Association and the RAMC were kept in the public eye. Keep up the attendance rates in future; it doesn’t have to be a special anniversary!

We are in the final stages of planning a Battlefield Tour in early September 2024 to reflect on the medical problems which had to be addressed in the early stages of OP OVERLORD, the Normandy landings in 1944. As soon as details are clear, they will be publicised widely; there will be subsidies available for Association members who wish to attend – details to follow.

It is clear to me that the concerns over providing adequate care for veterans are being better addressed centrally. Although they may not yet be perfect, they are a lot better than they were! Some of these are Government sponsored, others are provided by charities, but the movement is in the right direction so we have cause for at least some celebration.

Finally, as you may be aware, there are changes in the wind for the RAMC and the other AMS Corps. Some of these have already taken place, with amalgamation, reorganisation and retitling of Units. Further changes are likely to be announced in the New Year, and some of you may be speculating on the future. Although I am not yet able to inform you what these changes may involve, what I can tell you is that whatever happens, the RAMC Association will remain with its purpose unchanged for the foreseeable future.

May I wish you all an excellent Christmas and a successful and happy 2024.

In Arduis Fidelis
Ken Millar

I am delighted to have been given the privilege of being appointed as our Association Chair, and I accept the challenge! As you know, there has been much work done by my predecessor, and I hope - with your help and suggestions - to build on his efforts. As he pointed out when he took on this appointment, we remain an ageing organisation. Inevitably, this will lead to a shrinking membership unless more can be done to attract the younger population and try to bring as many as possible into the fold. In addition, it seems that there are many of us who, apart from connecting through different social media outlets and other organisations (official and unofficial) perhaps make less use than they might of the more formal RAMC Association Branch structure. Our ability to assist our veterans requires further co-ordination and appropriate signposting if the right help at the right time is to be made available. We, in the Association, need to work in concert with all the other RAMC “clubs”, seeking their views to move towards providing, together, the best support and fellowship possible to all RAMC veterans.

Most of what we do is rightly focussed on our Branches. The Regional structure is there to help with co-ordination to ensure that we deliver the same levels of support and Fellowship across the board and to streamline the structure by sharing good ideas and avoiding repetition of the bad ones! The Executive Committee performs a similar co-ordinating function and acts as the link with the RAMC Charity. It is perhaps useful to underline that the Executive Committee depends on input from Branches (through Regional representatives if appropriate) if it is to work in your favour.

I took over this post on November 1st this year. My first duties included attendance at the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey and heading the March Past of our contingent in Whitehall on Remembrance Sunday. These occasions allowed me to meet with Association members I had not met before (as well as some I already knew) and underlined for me the importance of these major, central events. My exhortation to those marching on Remembrance Sunday was “Thank you all for coming - next year, bring a friend!”. We all have local Remembrance events, and these are important occasions. But attendance at the Cenotaph parade is a great national experience, and one which in my view should be on every veteran’s bucket list. Please consider it as a possibility in future.

May I take this occasion to wish every one of you, and those dear to you, the best possible Christmas and an exceptional 2023.

In Arduis Fidelis.
Ken Millar

Colonel (Retired) Ken Millar was born in Glasgow in 1946 and graduated in medicine from the University of Glasgow in 1971. He was commissioned as a medical cadet in 1967, and following his medical training commenced his Army career as RMO to the Royal Scots. Thereafter, he followed a varied route through many command and staff appointments. He is a graduate of the Army Staff College, Camberley.

His command appointments were CO BMH Falkland Islands, CO 1 Armoured Field Ambulance in Hohne, Commander Medical 3rd Armoured Division in Soest and Commander HQ AMS TA in Chester. Staff appointments include Staff MO Defence NBC Centre, Oi/c Technical Division RAMC Training Centre, SO2 (Med) HQ 1 (BR) Corps in Bielefeld, DACOS Med Ops & Plans JHQ High Wycombe (Gulf War 1), Colonel AMD (MOD London), DACOS Med PJHQ (Northwood) and DACOS Med HQ Land Command (Wilton). As a RMO he served in Cyprus during the Turkish invasion in 1974 and in Northern Ireland, and was attached to the Scots Guards during OP CORPORATE in 1982. He retired from the Army in 2001.

He was a founder examiner for the Society of Apothecaries in the Diploma in the Medical Care of Catastrophes. He worked as a consultant for Logica CMG to assist them in winning the contract for DMICP, and for a variety of other industrial agencies. He also worked in the Army’s Medico-Legal branch as a case officer until reaching the age of 70. He has been a member of the RAMC Benevolence Committee for several years.

In 2012 he graduated BA (Hons) in Opera Studies from Manchester University – this recognises his lifelong interest in classical music, especially opera. His other interests included mountains – both climbing up and sliding down – and he was Chair of AMS Skiing for many years before leaving the Army. Sadly, the effects of age (and perhaps some overuse) on his knees, hips and back have put paid to the physical interests he used to enjoy!

He is divorced, lives in Salisbury and has a son, Angus, a serving QARANC officer, and a daughter, Lesley, a gardener. He has been blessed with four grandchildren aged between 3 years and 21 years.

The RAMC Association

William Boog LeishmanIn 1925, the RAMC Association was formed to further the camaraderie of WW1 Corps veterans with Sir William Leishman being the first President. There are now some 25 branches around UK with a predominantly veteran membership although most serving Corps members also are members centrally. The Association has traditionally been supported by Corps Funds and especially for the expenses of the branch standards and standard bearers.