With the kind permission of Colonel GM Gadd OBE, National Chairman of the British Korean Veterans Association, we reproduce here the annual report of the BKVA’s activities, as presented to the annual general meeting of the Anglo-Korean Society last week.
CHAIRMAN’S REPORT TO THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
OF THE ANGLO-KOREAN SOCIETY HELD AT
THE KOREAN CULTURAL CENTRE,
NORTHUMBERLAND AVENUE, LONDON WC2N 5FJ
ON WEDNESDAY 11th FEBRUARY 2009, STARTING AT 6pm
1. I am pleased that I am able to attend this AGM to present the BKVA report personally.
2. At the BKVA AGM held in Torquay on 11 October 2008 our membership stood at 3,675. This was a drop of 332 on our previous year’s total. We are a finite organization and we expect to lose members each year through demise and incapacity, but we do encourage the latter to retain their membership so that we are able to give them the comradeship generated by the Association and so that we can monitor their welfare.
3. I reported last year that the Cumbria Branch was going to disband in April; the disbandment service took place at the Kendal Parish Church where the colours were laid-up. Two other branches have since disbanded: North East Lincolnshire and Hastings branches. Their colours are laid-up, respectively, at the Parish Churches of Cleethorpes and Hastings.
4. I am pleased to report that the surviving members of all three branches have transferred to other branches of the Association and, on a brighter side still, a new branch has been formed in King’s Lynn. It is a breakaway from the Norfolk branch of those members living in King’s Lynn who were finding it increasingly more difficult and more expensive to make the round trip of 70 miles or so to meetings and functions in the Norwich area.
5. We now have 56 branches; some branches are more active than others but we are thriving.
6. At the AGM in October last the Executive Committee was voted back in office en bloc; as one member remarked the membership is either satisfied with the work done by the Executive Committee or it is too apathetic to do something about it
7. The AGM in Torquay was part of a reunion of members organized by Western Area, which included, on the Sunday, a service and parade and march-past, and we were pleased to welcome to the service Sergeant Bill Speakman, our sole surviving winner of the Victoria Cross. The salute at the march past was taken by Vice Admiral Sir Robert Gerken, President of the Devon and Cornwall Branch; Captain J.K. Lee, the Korean Defence Attaché, and myself.
8. We now have a new chaplain. The Reverend Sam Davis, who had been the padre of the GLOSTERS and who had been a prisoner of war, has suffered from ill health for some time, and is now not able to officiate; he has been appointed our Chaplain Emeritus and his successor as Honorary Chaplain is The Venerable David Brierley, Archdeacon of Sudbury. He is not a Korean War veteran but has had a long association with the BKVA through our Greater Manchester branch.
SAMSUNG / BKVA / RBL SCHOLARSHIP
9. Miss Jennifer Frost LLB, a graduate of the University of the West of England, is about to embark on her final year of study; her subject is International Studies. Her grandfather was George Newhouse who served with the GLOSTERS in Korea, where he was taken prisoner and, sadly, died at the end of last year. Jennifer returned home for his funeral
10. About to start his studies, having completed a Korean language course, is Mr Jonathan Parr LLB, a graduate of the University of Leicester; his subject is Business Administration
EVENTS OF INTEREST
11. We have had a full year of activity with many events taking place at National, Area, and Branch levels; among them have been:
- 21 Feb 08 We were able to say farewell to His Excellency Dr Cho Yoon-je and his wife at a reception held at his residence on completion of his 3 years tour of duty in London. He had been very supportive of the BKVA and we were pleased to make him an Honorary Life Member of the Association.
- 25 June 08 We were able to extend a warm welcome to the new ambassador His Excellency Mr Chun Yung-woo when he very kindly invited 30 of our members to a Wreath Laying Ceremony at St Paul’s cathedral followed by lunch at the Korean Embassy.
- 27 July 08 His Excellency further showed his support of the BKVA by accepting our invitation to attend our “Korean War Commemoration Day” at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas. His Excellency gave a very moving address at the Drumhead Service; he inspected the “troops” took the Salute, accompanied by Major General Swindells, our President, and, finally, joined the officials of the day for lunch. We were pleased he was able to join us at our annual event; we admired his fortitude on the day; it was very hot, there were almost a 1000 veterans, families and friends present and 500 veterans marched past; he also found time to talk to many of the veterans.
- 26 Sept – 2 Oct 08 10 veterans visited Korea at the invitation of KVA Seoul to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the formation of the Korean Armed Forces; all costs were funded by KVA Seoul which gesture was very much appreciated by the BKVA.
- 9 Oct 08 The Ambassador, His Excellency, Mr Chun Yung-woo hosted a reception at his residence to commemorate the Korean National Foundation Day; senior officials of the BKVA were invited.
INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF KOREAN WAR VETERANS ASSOCIATION (IFKWVA)
12. I was unable to attend the Wreath-Laying Ceremony at St Paul’s Cathedral, yet again. In 2007
my journey to London was halted by the floods, and in June last year (20th – 27th) I attended the 8th
General Assembly of the IFKWVA in Seoul at which I was elected President of the International
Federation: an honour I accepted on behalf of the BKVA as much as for myself.
13. I did not realise quite how busy I was going to be … with input from 22 nations I should have expected it; and later this month I will be visiting Australia along with the Secretary General.
14. I am sorry to have “gone on” somewhat and in closing I would just like to add that we may be an ageing organization but we are active. You should see us when we march to a military band…we grow about 4 inches in stature.
15. If you have any questions, I will be pleased to take them… not now, perhaps later.
G.M. GADD OBE
National Chairman BKVA
11 February 2009