Freedom of Falmouth awarded to RNA

Falmouth Packet: Mick Stevens, chairman of Falmouth RNA Mick Stevens, chairman of Falmouth RNA

The Falmouth branch of the Royal Navy Association is to make history by becoming the first in the country to be awarded the “freedom” of a town.

Members of Falmouth Town Council have unanimously agreed to bestow the Freedom of Falmouth upon the local RNA in recognition of the support it offers, particularly since the local branch of the Royal British Legion was disbanded.

Over the past 30 years, the RNA has organised the annual Sea Sunday parade on behalf of the town mayor, and more recently has taken a more prominent role in the town's Remembrance Day parade and service.

The branch has also supported the Falmouth and Penryn Sea Cadets with an annual bursary; provided the 6th Falmouth Sea Scouts with a financial grant towards improving amenities and also made a donation to the local Mission to Seafarers.

The decision to grant the honour was made last week when mayor, Geoffrey Evans, said: “We are a Navy port and about ten years ago we gave this to the Merchant Navy Association and our ship, the Mounts Bay, so this is a bit outstanding.”

Councillor Trish Minson added: “As the British Legion is now absent from the town, the RNA is taking a bigger role and it would be nice to acknowledge the extra work they are doing for us.”

The meeting was attended by branch secretary, Ron Burdekin, and committee member Ian Hewson. Mr Burdekin said: “On behalf of all our shipmates, I thank you for the honour and privilege we have bestowed upon us this evening.

“It is a unique occasion in that there are approximately 350 branches all over the UK and abroad and as far as I am able to ascertain, Falmouth is the first to have this honour bestowed upon us.”

Branch chairman, Mick Stevens, was unable to attend the meeting, but said afterwards: “It is a great honour. Previous recipients include RFA Mounts Bay, the Rev Barrington Bennetts and the US 19th Infantry Division so to be included amongst such company is high praise indeed.

“I announced the conferment of the Freedom to the Branch members at tonight's meeting, it was greeted with resounding applause, and in true Naval style a toast with a tot of rum.

“Personally I see it as a reward for the ten year evolution of the branch from an introspective organisation of 40 members to an outward looking branch, now the largest RNA branch in Cornwall with approaching 80 members, fully involved in not just veteran affairs but as part of the community.”

The official ceremony and presentation to bestow the Freedom of Falmouth on the RNA is being planned to take place following the annual St Nazaire parade and memorial service on March 15.


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