Ancre Somme Association launched their 6 year Strategic Plan in Brownlow House.
Honorary President, David Martin, welcomed representatives from across Northern Ireland to the event. A warm welcome was also extended to various dignitaries including members of the Armed Forces, local, regional and national politicians and representatives from various groups and veterans organisations from the length and breadth of Northern Ireland.
David also took the opportunity to remember ASA Scotland Patron Lt Col Gary Tait, who passed away earlier this year. David said “I was honoured to meet Gary on a few occasions and I found him to be a very respectful man and I know he will be missed by all who knew him.”
David then outlined the work that has been carried out by the Association, across the United Kingdom. Details were given regarding the various educational programmes, legacy projects and booklets that have been produced by the Association.
He then went on to speak about the various Remembrance initiatives undertaken by the Association. These included the erection of a bronze bust in memory of William McFadzean VC in Northern Ireland and also the erection of a Memorial Cairn in Scotland. These are only two of the many Remembrance Projects and Services organised by the Ancre Somme Association.
Finally David informed those in attendance that the Association are, and will continue to be, committed to supporting their Armed Forces Charities. It was with great pride that he named a few charities, and good causes, that the Association has helped over the years.
David then introduced the Deputy Lord Mayor Of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Councillor Margaret Tinsley. The Deputy Lord Mayor took the opportunity to praise the Association on what they have achieved to date and also revealed that she shared the Association’s belief that it is imperative that our young people have an understanding of their history and that they appreciate the sacrifice that was made so we can all live free today.
The first guest speaker was Carol Walker MBE, Director of the Somme Museum. Carol gave a fascinating insight into the role women played pre, during and post the Great War. Women’s place in society changed after the Great War and this was expertly shown in Carol’s presentation.
It was then time for a musical interlude. The very talented Mark Savage performed three thought provoking songs about the First and Second World Wars. As this year marks the 80th Anniversary of the beginning of WW2 it was apt that Mark’s final song focused on the the sacrifice made on the beaches in Dunkirk.
ASA Ambassador Andy Allen MBE MLA was next to speak. Andy gave an insight into his charity, AA Veterans Support. He praised the work of the Association and thanked them for the support they have given his charity over many years. Andy presented ASA Chairman, Mark Jameson and ASA Secretary, Lexi Davidson with a piece of crystal in appreciation of the support the Association has shown AA Veterans Support.
ASA Ambassador, Carla Lockhart MLA, was the penultimate speaker. Carla shared her experiences regarding the Association. She praised the hard working committee who give their own time to a cause they, and she, passionately believe in. Carla highlighted the memorial to William McFadzean VC saying it will ensure that future generations remember all those who died during the Great War.
The final speaker was Martin Snoddon. Martin gave a hard to hear, but truthful account, of the horrors of war. We remember those who died but we tend to forget those who returned with serious injuries, disfigurements and mental health issues. Martin’s presentation left people with something to think about as they left tonight’s event.
Ancre Somme Association, Mark Jameson, thanked all who had attended tonight’s event and those who have supported the Association since its formation 10 years ago.
A final thanks was given to Brownlow House, and their staff. This historic building was the perfect location for the Ancre Somme Association to launch their 6 Year Strategic Plan.