Edition 30

In this first edition of 2023, there is plenty to celebrate with exciting news of very special New Year Honours, plus some outstandingly inspirational fundraising challenges and heartwarming stories.

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New Year Honours

For those who might have missed the announcement, we’d like to again share the wonderful news and ask you to join us in sending huge congratulations to our Chief Executive, Jonathan Ball, on being awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in His Majesty the King’s first New Year Honours’ list.

We are delighted and incredibly proud that Jonathan has received this much-deserved recognition for his exceptional service over 11 years to RMA – The Royal Marines Charity, and to the whole Royal Marines Family.

His dedication has been unsurpassed, demonstrating passion, commitment, and infallible pragmatism with the leadership, vision and energy that has transformed the Charity from a small fundraising organisation with a few employees, to what is now widely recognised to be the leading regimental charity in the UK, with a multi-disciplinary delivery team of 37 staff; and a turnover that has increased from under £2M to nearly £4.5M, enabling support to a record 22,342 beneficiaries in 2021.

We send warmest congratulations, too, to Tony Rowe, chair of Exeter Chiefs RFC, on his CBE (Commander of the British Empire). Tony is a former Chairman of The C Group, one of our predecessor charities. He is a longstanding and hugely generous supporter of the Charity through his membership of the West Country 100 Business Network, permitting regular charity collections at the Chiefs’ ground and making donations through the Chiefs’ Foundation.

‘1 Old Commando’ still chilling out!   

Pictured above, some members of our own RMA team joined Tim in Exmouth as he journeyed through Devon. Photos courtesy of DottyCreative.

Sometimes there are no adequate words to describe just how much we appreciate the supremely selfless fundraising efforts of those who embark on outstanding personal challenges to raise money for our charity – and this week we have two shining examples to share.

Magnificently brave and inspirational Bootneck, Tim Crossin from Dorset, describes himself as ‘just 1 Old Commando’ who received his fourth cancer diagnosis just days before going ahead with his current Cold Dip Commando Challenge on 1st January,.

He is now almost halfway through completing  the 31 cold water dips he planned for this month along a 2,800-mile route throughout the UK, starting and ending in his home town of Poole, Dorset.  

And he has already smashed his initial £10k target, which – now pushing £14k – is, like the high tides he’s continually chasing, rising rapidly by the hour!

We are humbled to be one the three charities he is raising funds for and delighted to support him in helping him attract the publicity and media attention he so deserves – but most of all we’re delighted that he’s enjoying the camaraderie of the many fellow Bootnecks and local cold water swimming clubs who are turning out to join him at locations along the way. We’re in awe of his achievement, courage and dogged determination.

Christmas kayak-a-thon 

And sitting quietly at home on Christmas Day was not on the cards for another amazing RM veteran, Jon White, who made a somewhat last-minute decision to instead spend a few hours by kayaking 100-miles up and down the Grand Western Canal from Tiverton in Devon to raise money for our Charity.

As he reported on his Just Giving page: ”I completed 101.5 miles in 21hrs 45mins. It was gruelling, rain, wind then cold temperatures. The canal surface was blanketed with leaves, slowing me down. But the support was amazing! Thank you.” That support Is still coming in and, to date, he’s raised over £14,000! What an absolutely incredible achievement – and we are full of thanks and admiration.

Jon is an inspirational speaker and one of the two main presenters of RMA – The Royal Marines Charity’s Commando Mindset resilience training programme. Drawing on his own experiences as a triple amputee, having lost both legs above the knee and his right arm at his elbow after stepping on an explosive device in Afghanistan in 2010, he has had to ‘recalibrate’ his way of living, stressing that ‘overcoming adversity is not just about physical fitness, but a way of thinking, a way of looking at life’.

Goodbye – hello!  

One of the founding civilian trustees of RMA – The Royal Marines Charity, Richard Weaver – a senior partner of audit firm HaysMacintyre where he is Head of Charities and Not For Profit (NFP) – has had to step down having served the maximum period of time permitted as a trustee. Happily, he remains involved as an independent advisor.

Richard was appointed in 2013 to provide financial, risk and audit oversight at the time of a series of three complex mergers to form the united whole service delivery charity that RMA is today.

In thanking him for his long service, Mrs Lynn Fordham, Chair of Trustees said: “Richard’s regular, time-consuming and detailed support ensured that the Charity is established as a credible and well-governed Service Charity. The work involved in securing these mergers was extensive and Richard’s skilled oversight was, and remains, invaluable.

He has displayed selfless commitment and boundless energy despite an extremely demanding day job and has always been there to provide support and advice to the Board and Executive. We offer him our heartfelt thanks and wish him every success in the future – and we couldn’t be more pleased that he will still be here for us, albeit in a different guise.”

A little goes a long way  

Margaret, the widow of a former Royal Marines Commando from D-Day, has suffered loneliness and isolation in recent years. and late last year was approaching her 100th birthday.

RMA’s Health & Wellbeing team heard about her through a local charitable organisation it happened to be working with at the time. They asked if there was any help we could give so that Margaret would have a day to remember and that this very special occasion did not slip by unnoticed.

A £300 RMA grant ensured she did celebrate in style, with a party attended by ‘at least’ three former Royal Marines who were only too pleased to travel to Wales to be by her side.

It was heart-warming to hear back that: “A wonderful day was had by all, courtesy of the RMA grant. Margaret was made to feel very special.”

We think she might also possibly have been the first member of the Royal Marines Family to receive a 100th birthday card from the His Majesty King Charles III and Her Majesty The Queen Consort?

Musical moments  

Our Fundraising team enjoyed magical moments with the Music Man Project, supporting these very special singers and musicians at three London train stations in the run up to Christmas. During the lively performances, they ‘shared smiles, songs and festive spirit’ with some of the thousands of commuters and passers-by to promote the Music Man’s single ‘Music is Magic’. 

The Christmas single marked the first of many collaborative projects between the Music Man Project and the Band of His Majesty’s (HM) Royal Marines, with all proceeds going to help the Music Man Project to support learning-disabled people across the UK.

A huge thank you to this amazing group of talented people for allowing us the privilege of joining them – and to Network Rail for making it possible for us to also raise over £900 for RMA – The Royal Marines Charity on the station platforms. Share a special musical moment with them by clicking on the picture arrow above.

Also spreading the Christmas cheer around the country was former RM Bandsman Mike James who raised £185 from playing at the Nottingham branch  of a well-known national supermarket chain: and Mandy Harding who busked at the Worcester Victorian Fayre with some Christmas tunes and raised over £90 for RMA – The Royal Marines Charity. We thank you both.