Association celebrates 50 years
ONCE Navy, always Navy as the saying goes and fifty years of the Royal Naval Association shows that former seafarers really do like to stick together.The Ipswich branch of the association was formed back in 1952 enabling those who no longer travelled the high seas to get together and get back the comradeship that they felt they had lost by leaving the Navy.
By JESSICA NICHOLLS
ONCE Navy, always Navy. as the saying goes. And fifty years of the Royal Naval Association shows that former seafarers really do like to stick together.
The Ipswich branch of the association was formed back in 1952 enabling those who no longer travelled the high seas to get together and get back the comradeship they felt they may lose by leaving the Navy.
But during the last three years the association decided to do something special to mark their forthcoming anniversary.
They chose to raise money for charity and during that time they have been fundraising for St. Elizabeth's Hospice, the King George fund for Sailors and the Ipswich Sea Cadets.
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Since they started fundraising they have been able to give £1,000 to each of their chosen charities.
They have also managed to raise £2,000 to put up a memorial for those who fought in the Second World War.
Car boot sales, cycle rides and supermarket collections have all been on the agenda for the former Navy and Royal Marine recruits to help them raise the money.
The Ipswich branch of the worldwide association was started by Wally Thompson, who is still vice-president today.
Mr Thompson is pictured leading the very first procession of the association 50 years ago.
And last weekend they had a procession in Christchurch Park to mark the anniversary just as it was all those years ago.
Peter Thompson has been a member of the association for the last six years and was proud to be there when they celebrated their jubilee year last weekend.
He is the group's vice chairman and social secretary.
The 69-year-old from Thurleston Lane, Ipswich, said: "It is all about comradeship.
"We talk about all sorts of things and have a very close relationship. Most people join for the friendship."
The association also has a welfare officer on duty who carries out hospital visits and supports former sailors and their families.
Sadly the numbers at the association are beginning to dwindle.
Peter said: "We have lost a lot of members in the last few years.
"The Navy is not what is was anymore so the numbers are not being made back up."