Those attending were Commodore Ron Warwick, Sir Robert Crawford, Captain Martin Scott, Stuart Edmonston, Professor Brian Cotton, Liam Skeham, Tony Stokes, Derek Bristow, and Jane Curr (Council Secretary).
The meeting commenced with a welcome from Alex Campbell the Chief Executive of the Queen Victoria Seamens Rest following which members stood in a minute's silence to remember all seafarers who had crossed the bar.
Apologies for absence were received from Eleanor Sharpston QC, David Wells, David Craig, John Hill, Don Staddon, Peter Wearing, Jim Fitzpatrick MP, Warwick Taylor and Sam Souster.
The agenda included an update on the sustainability of the Federation and the following points were discussed:
The unique approach the Federation has of taking the Merchant Navy to the heart of the nation by high-profile Presentations.
The New Horizons magazine is enjoyed by many and in the most recent editions we have been looking astern emphasising what we have achieved.
As expected there has been a fall in individual membership, as the numbers of veterans fall. However, the membership of all affiliated organisations still gives us a sizable united body. The number of applications for badges is also falling due to the declining numbers of merchant seafarers who qualify. It was observed that membership numbers are dwindling in many MN Associations. One such branch had 60 members 5 years ago, and now has only 7 or 8 members.
Loss of membership is common to other veterans’ organisations including the Royal British Legion.
We have achieved outstanding success in our campaign for recognition for merchant seafarers both locally and nationally. Our Presentations and local initiatives are models of what can be achieved by a small dedicated volunteer staff supported in the main by members’ subscriptions and donations.
Looking to the future we must avoid becoming a copy of other organisations but should maintain our individual and unique approach which has brought us respect, support, and success.
Following in-depth discussions it was agreed that the Chief Executive should consider the points made at the meeting and return to Council with recommendations for the way ahead.