Everyone has a story!
This is ours...
While the Association has had a relatively short life, the Annual reunion that preceded it has a much deeper history.
On the transfer of the Mine Warfare School from HMS Nelson (Gunwharf) Formally HMS Vernon to HMS Dryad in 1995. The Mine Warfare branch went under a transformation as we joined our other warfare brethren as part of the Maritime Warfare School. Inevitably our courses came under deep scrutiny as they were integrated into the new system and the structure of courses changed. In particular in an ever challenging financial environment a review of course expenditure was carried out and much external training which involved travel and subsistence was removed. In particular in 1997 the PO MW course had the much loved Course Exped removed. To put some fun back into the course and to provide a challenging project for the courses in the future, the first course were tasked with organising a Section BBQ. The late Geoff Palmer a student on the course was given the task of coordinating the event. Geoff had the great idea of opening it out to the wider community.
In conjunction with our Vice Chairman Taff Reader who was the Schools Training Coordinator at the time and was in contact with many of the local ex serving MW’s a list was drawn up and invites issued. The event was a great success and so the Mine Warfare Reunion was born.
Being a resident member of the Training staff by this time, Taff Reader was in an ideal position to ensure that a database was created of serving and Ex MW’s so that this became an annual event. To give the event a base to work from some basic rules were created appointing the Warrant Officer of the Training School as the re-union Chairman.
Over the forthcoming years Taff pulled together annual re-unions initially in Dryad, where the late Taff Davies was renowned for practicing his BBQ skills on us, and then later in various external venues in Portsmouth as numbers grew. During this time the chairmanship transferred to some infamous characters as the Training Warrant Officers post rotated. This included some dubious names such as Pawl Shockley, Tommo Thomas, Pete Whitehead, Tony Mulrain, Nat Coles and Pete Mills who all helped to build on the foundation created by that initial Section BBQ.
In 2004 the school along with the reunions transferred to HMS Collingwood and grew successfully throughout. In 2007 as Taff’s Naval Career was drawing to a close and his future became uncertain, a decision on the future of the re-unions needed to be made to ensure the database did not drop into disrepair.During coming months and over numerous beers the then chairman Pete Mills and Taff drew up plans and rules for an association to be created. In the summer of 2008 the MWA was created and at the First AGM, the committee was endorsed.
Inertia was taking hold...
The beginnings of the founding officers was taking shape.
Initial committee of:
- Chairman - Pete Mills
- Vice Chairman & Treasurer - Taff Reader
- Webmaster - Ronnie Barker.
- Scotland – Pawl Stockley
- North Eng. - Polly Porter
- Wales and Mid – Gary Abnett
- East Eng. – Jim Hawkins
- South Eng. – Taff Reader
- West Eng. Simmo Simmonds.
While the majority of these remain active within the committee, to better serve the membership, and divide the workload the posts of Treasurer, Secretary, and Membership secretary were created.
Over the years the reunion has been held all over the country to accommodate members not around the Pompey area:
Liverpool - 2010
Bristol - 2011
Stirling - 2012
Portsmouth - 2008, 2013, 2018
Cardiff - 2014
Birmingham - 2015
Weymouth - 2016
The association continues to thrive today. In recent years it has taken to the road holding gatherings in all regional areas as it tried to reach out to a membership of over 100 members. The annual reunion continues to grow from strength to strength and is now looking forward to its 10th anniversary in 2018