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.
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.
On Saturday 26th October the Ancre Somme Association held its 10th Anniversary dinner in Brownlow House, Lurgan. The event was hosted by the charismatic BBC Presenter, Liam Beckett MBE and sponsored by Statement Menswear, Portadown. Guests were greeted by award winning piper Ian Burrows who played a selection of tunes as attendees entered Brownlow House.
The night got underway with Ancre Somme Association Honorary President, David Martin, welcoming all to the event. A raptures round of applause circulated around the room as David welcomed special guests Liam Beckett MBE and The Swingtime Starlets as well as many dignitaries including Mr David Simpson MP, Mrs Carla Lockhart MLA, Mr Andy Allen MBE MLA, Cllr Margaret Tinsley Deputy Lord Mayor Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council, Cllr Mark Baxter Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council, Cllr Paul Berry Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council, Alderman Bill Keery Mayor Ards & North Down Borough Council, Mrs Linda Keery Mayoress Ards & North Down Borough Council, Councillor Alan Givan Mayor Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, Mrs Elizabeth Givan The Mayoress Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, Alderman Paul Porter Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, Cllr Maureen Morrow Mayor Mid & East Antrim Borough Council, Cllr Beth Adger Deputy Mayor Mid & East Antrim Borough Council, Cllr Keith Turner Mid & East Antrim Borough Council and Cllr Alan Rainey Fermanagh & Omagh District Council. A special welcome was also given to the ASA Scotland members who were in attendance.
Before the room fell silent everyone again put their hands together for the introduction of the Ancre Somme Association Patron, Lt Col Ant Maher. Lt Col Maher thanked everyone for their attendance and the support they have shown the association. He went on to thank the members for their commitment to the association and looked forward to working with them in the future.
After the meal Liam Beckett MBE took to the stage. He firstly conducted the raffle which was in aid of AA Veterans Support. The raffle was won by William Woods and he was presented with a glorious print donated by Andy Allen MBE MLA. We are delighted to announce that the raffle raised £670 and will be used by the charity to help veterans and their families across Northern Ireland.
Next to take to the stage were the fabulous Swingtime Starlets. This professional close harmony trio performed a selection of songs from the 40’s Wartime Era as well as the Hollywood’s Golden Age. Their renditions of these iconic songs transported all in attendance back through the years.
Liam then became auctioneer as he helped raise much needed funds that will enable the association to carry out their work across the United Kingdom. We are pleased to announce that £1050 was raised through the auction. We would like to thank the following who donated prizes to the auction. Cllr Paul Berry, Lurgan Rugby Club, Coleraine Football Club, Liam Beckett and the association committee.
As the night continued Liam welcomed key members of the association to the stage. To enable those in attendance to get a better understanding of the association, and the roles its members play, Liam interviewed them in his own unique style. Mark Jameson, Ant Maher, Lexi Davidson, John Jenkins, Tommy Davidson, Mark Henry, David Martin, Carla Lockhart MLA and Andy Allen MBE MLA were all interviewed regarding the association and also on their other interests.
Before the formalities were brought an end Ancre Somme Association chairman, Mark Jameson, presented various individuals with gifts in appreciation of the support they have shown the association over the past 10 years. Presentations were also made by Ancre Somme Association Scotland Branch chairman, John Jenkins, to various individuals for the support they have shown the members in Scotland.
Lt Col Ant Maher brought proceedings to an end by once again thanking everyone for their attendance and then invited them to retire and join him, and the members of the association, and reflected on the proceedings of the night. Music was provided afterwards by the very talented local singer, Andy Whittaker.
The officer and members of the Ancre Somme Association would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that sponsored, supported and attended this event. Special thanks must go to Liam Beckett MBE, The Swingtime Starlets, Brownlow House, Statements Menswear, Andy Whittaker, Cllr Paul Berry, Lurgan Rugby Club, Coleraine FC and finally we thank all the councils across Northern Ireland for the support they have shown our association.
Your support will help ensure that our members can continue with our commitment to educate future generations regarding their past while remembering the sacrifice made by our courageous British Armed Forces.