CONA Conference September 2018

CONA Conference September 2018

Venue – Maritime Club, Portsmouth

The Confederation Of Naval Associations (CONA) Conference commenced at 1000.

The attendees were welcomed by Admiral John McAnally the CONA Chairman.

This was followed by the obligatory Health & Safety briefing given by Sarah Clewes the organiser of the day’s event.

Next we had a briefing given by Andy Christie the RNA Deputy General Secretary. This reiterated the days schedule as stated on the agenda.

From L to R: Captain Paul Quinn retiring RNA General Secretary

Admiral John McAnally CONA Chairman

Rear Admiral Mike Bath CONA President & NavSec

Sarah Clewes CONA Secretary

The conference then got underway with a very interesting & well delivered presentation given by Peter Mosse who is heavily involved with the Association of ex Services Drop-In Centres (ASDIC). He told of the various centres in the UK and how ASDIC is trying to bring them together by offering support, advice & publicity. He also told of the various channels & organisations that are available to ex service personnel & how the drop in centres can assist those in need of help.

Peter explained that those in need were referred to as “Service Users” and that the organisations that may be in a position to help are called “Service Partners”. These partners include SSAFA, Vets UK, Help 4 Heroes, Warrior & Ripple Pond for example.

ASDIC will be producing a News Letter “Ping” and will have a website & Facebook page. I will expand on these when more information becomes available.

Two interesting facts were given by Peter Mosse: –

There is a higher proportion of ex service personnel with alcohol problems than civilians but a lower proportion with drug habits. The male ex service community has a high rate of PTSD than their female counterparts and civilians.

If you are ever visiting Kings Lynn find the “Bridge For Heroes” drop-in-centre located near the multi-storey car park. I came across it by pure chance, was invited in and made most welcome. All the inter service banter soon got underway.

One thing that Peter stressed was that all must make their GP aware that they are ex service personnel, a veteran. This applies to wives, partners and careers of veterans.

At 1100 CONA President and Navy Secretary (NavSec) Rear Admiral Mike Barth arrived.

After being introduced it was the turn of all attendees to stand, give their name and the name of the association they were representing.

The admiral then gave the gathering a talk about the Royal Navy, their current deployments & future plans in terms of fleet types & numbers, manning and presence world wide.

This was followed by a brief question & answer session.

One question raised was ‘Is there a future for the Royal Marines’. I felt his reply was somewhat guarded but he insisted that they wouldn’t be disbanded especially, he said, the special operations personnel – the SBS ?

Over lunch I managed to speak to the admiral and asked him for his thoughts on mine warfare. I specifically asked if there were any plans to replace the ageing and hard worked Hunters. He seemed very reluctant to give an answer. So I rephrased my question by saying is the future the remote vehicle option. He then agreed with this saying that mine hunting/clearing would be carried out by dedicated personnel operating from a mother ship. I asked if the proposal to have different modules built to be placed on ships for different tasks including mine warfare was still on. His reply was in the affirmative. No timescales were discussed. He gave approval for me to pass on this discussion.

This was followed by a talk given by a representative of the National Energy Action (Fuel Poverty Charity). The speaker told of the different ways in which veterans, and others, can get help if they are struggling to pay their heating bills or in  keeping their house warm.

NEA can give advice if you are struggling with fuel debt or understanding your fuel bill.

If your home is cold or damp. If you don’t understand your heating controls.

If you are looking for ways to save money & make your house warmer.

If you would like advice on heating, switching energy suppliers or budgeting your home.

Message Rebecca Jones on or phone 07738 417448

For more info go to

A lunch break followed which allowed time to visit, view & talk to representatives of CONA Holidays, part of The UK Holiday Group Ltd. Well known for organising reunions and visits to WWI sites.

Motorfinity were also in attendance. They offer discounts of up to 32% on new cars to veterans.

The remainder of the afternoon session was turned over to group discussions or, as termed by CONA, Interactive “Show & Tell”.

It consisted of six different groups giving a mini presentation on their particular ‘Part of Ship” with each session limited to 20 minutes. Having attended one group you then moved to another until all six had been visited.

The group subjects were: –

Forces Pension Society

Project Semaphore

Project Semaphore is a Royal Naval Association initiative, funded by the Aged Veterans Fund, to help naval veterans realise the benefits of being online and to address issues of social isolation and loneliness. We provide an iPad and a Pay as You Go SIM for those without Broadband (a 12Gb SIM card to get them started – thereafter costs are met by individuals).

The first steps are to identify eligible candidates (criteria set by the Aged Veteran Fund):-

Over 65 years of age.

A Royal Navy or Royal Marines Veteran (including Widows); as this is a Royal Naval Association led Project.  Tri-service veterans can be considered if an organisation/association can assist with the issue and training of the ipad candidates (subject to agreement with the Project Manager).

Do not have regular, personal access to the Internet.

The Project has been hugely successful and over 600 iPads are now being used by Veterans exploring the internet for the first time.  We have reached out to Organisations, Care Homes, and some collective iPad training sessions in RNA Branches which has created the added benefit of community spirit and social gatherings. Providing an iPad and the support of a fellow Shipmate is really making a huge difference to Veterans lives.

If you have any queries about Project Semaphore, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards

Julie Royston

Deputy Project Manager – Project Semaphore

M: 07768 694942

Your Branch Matters

Engaging With Your Members

Veterans Welfare Services

Cyber-crime Awareness Clinic

I found these sessions very interesting and well conducted. Exchange of views, drips, best working practises and pitfalls were interesting and informative.

In my humble opinion the CONA Secretary Sarah Clewes had put together a well balanced conference which was, as previously stated, interesting and informative.

Bob Dean