Conference Of Naval Associations (CONA)
Link to CONA Web Site (click here)
Your TCA CONA Representative is Bob Dean. Click for contact by e-mail
2019 Autumn CONA Meeting
I attended the autumn CONA meeting held at the Royal Maritime Club on Friday 20th September.
As usual it was quite well attended by reps from many RN Associations and The Merchant Navy.
The Navy Secretary, Rear Admiral Bath, gave an update on the state of the Royal Navy.
This was followed by presentations given by RNBT, help for those suffering from mental health problems given by the Chief Operating Officer of Solent Health and a good illustrated talk about prostate cancer.
After lunch representatives from different organisations held twenty minute sessions where we were invited over to their tables to listen to their brief and to ask questions then move on to the next subject. This helped to get to know reps from other associations and to learn from them & their problems. Age Concern, Veterans Hearing Support, Defence Medical Welfare Services, Military Wellbeing Alliance and the Maritime Society/Sea Cadets we’re in attendance.
The Hon. Sec. of the TCA followed up an announcement about the formation of CONA that appeared in the March 2013 edition of Navy News by speaking to Captain Paul Quinn, who many of us know as the secretary of the RNA.
He advised that the idea for CONA came about around a year ago with the realisation that all ex-service organisations faced similar challenges, although to differing degrees, of recruitment and retention, rising costs of administration, disparity of benefits that could be offered to members, difficulties of keeping in touch with the modern RN and, for some, inability to gather enough members together to hold a reunion on their own.
The Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral David Steel, was approached and suggested that a first step might be to compile a register of the various naval associations and then look at the practicalities of working together more closely.
RNA has led the work to put together a first draft of such a register with Vice Admiral McAnally as Chairman of the working party and Capt Quinn as Secretary.
What has been decided and or achieved to date is: –
· CONA should be a loose gathering for the mutual benefit of its member associations
· The autonomy of participating associations has to be respected
· There are no rules (as yet)
· There are no membership fees and no expenses are paid to attend meetings
· The working party anticipates meeting twice per year and organising an Annual Conference
· As much of the business as is practicable should be undertaken by e-mail
· One of its aims will be to extend the availability of benefits to the members of all participating associations e.g. Insurance, BUPA, finance etc
· CONA does not anticipate engaging in lobbying or in political pressure
· Through CONA, the RNA is offering to cascade to participating associations the steady flow of information that it receives from MoD (Navy)
· To facilitate communication and participation, a Facebook page has been set up and a website is under construction (the cost of constructing the web site has been possible due to a generous donation from another organisation)
Captain Quinn is most emphatic that CONA is not an attempt by the RNA to take over other associations.
There are no provisions to assist with the financial baling out of associations that may be struggling, although advice on best practice to turn matters around would not be out of the question.
Associations that have “signed up” with CONA include: RNA, Association of WRNS, Britannia Association, Federation of Naval Associations (FNA), Fleet Air Arm Association, QARNNS Association, Submariners Association, Surface Warfare Officers Association, Royal Fleet Auxiliary Association, and Royal Marines Association plus of course the TCA.
The committee was sounded out by an exchanged of e-mails as to whether there was a consensus of approval for our participation.
From our standpoint the benefits could be: –
· It would not cost us anything – although we might have to reconsider if a membership fee was introduced
· Potentially better to be seen as collaborating with fellow sailors rather than run the risk of being thought of as being isolationist
· An improved feed of RN information would be more accurate and up to date than relying on Navy News or the RN website.
· Some of the purchasing deals such as BUPA and car insurance, holiday deals etc may be attractive to TCA members
· It might strengthen our voice in any dealings with the Veterans Agency
We are not certain what the disadvantages might be, as again Capt Quinn was most emphatic that the autonomy of participating associations was assured, so the only disadvantage so far might be:
· Our “delegate(s)” would have to fund their attendance at any CONA meetings, or have those expenses met by TCA.
So that is where we found ourselves come the Conference Meeting on the 18th July this year at Admiralty House – Portsmouth Naval Base.
We cannot report verbatim but hopefully will cover, briefly, all the most relevant parts of the meeting. This is from the first meeting the TCA attended. For the latest meeting/update click on link at top of page.
The chairman, Vice Adm John McAnally National President of the RNA welcomed all delegates. He then called upon the chairman of the CONA Working Group Captain Paul Quinn to report on progress so far: –
The Register of Member Associations required an up-date to include new members & contact details for each association (this has now been completed)
When the register had been completed it is the intention of CONA to publish a Geographical Map so that groups can better see where fellow association’s administration is located. It was thought this could also assist recruitment & socialisation.
A ‘Facebook’ page has been set up and members are encouraged to sign up to it. (So far I have failed to find it and I am waiting for further information)
All associations have been invited to submit items for publication in Navy News.
We were then informed of progress made by CONA of businesses they are negotiating with or have agreement with for discount for CONA Members: –
- UK Holiday Group – HQ in Norwich. Discount of up to 15% with a donation to CONA for each holiday booked. They also offer group travel & conference facilities. They will have a dedicated phone line number & web site for CONA members. (we have since raised the question about holiday insurance which as some of you may be aware is difficult to obtain due to age and medical related conditions).
- SAGA is also to be approached to see what they will offer.
- Hospital & Medical Care Association (HMCA) is to offer a discount. This company is similar to BUPA but cheaper. BUPA already offer a discount details of which will be announced. And if they fail: –
- A Hampshire Funeral Company is to offer a discount in the near future.
- Other progress with related information will be announced to all members once agreement has been reached. This will be via the TCA magazine Ton Talk but hopefully for a more immediate publication of news it will be on this web site.
CONA is to have its own web site. A grant of £4k has been applied for to set it up with running costs of approximately £200 – £300 per annum.
CONA is to have links to the RNA web site & has requested that all member associations with a site do likewise. This will be done once CONA web site is up and running.
Vice Adm John McAnally was officially elected as Chairman of CONA. Captain Paul Quinn was elected as Chairman of CONA Working Group. Lt Cdr Andy Christie was elected as Secretary of CONA Working Group.
The chairman gave a presentation to the 2nd SL who joined the meeting toward the end of the session. All associations present also gave a 2 minute presentation to the 2nd SL, currently Vice Adm David Steel, who was then invited to be President of CONA. He willingly agreed to take up this role and stated that it should pass to subsequent 2nd SL’s.
The design of a Logo for CONA has received a suggestion from the FNA – task on-going.
CONA to consider sponsorship of Sea Cadets for sail training purposes – task on-going.