Royal Norfolk Veterans Association

Founded 1898 by the late Major A.W.M. Atthill, M.V.O. O.B.E.
Patron: Her Majesty The Queen  President: Major W.F.A. Heal

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From 1902 to 1998

In 1902, His Majesty, King Edward V11 agreed to become the Patron of the Association and granted the honour of becoming The Royal Norfolk Veterans Association. This patronage has passed down through the years and on the occasion of the Annual Dinner, loyal greetings are sent to Her Majesty and are proudly read.

How the connection with the Royal family first came about is not known, but it is the proximity of Sandringham that may have had something to do with it, for in 1907, 25 members were inspected by the King there and on this occasion Captain Atthill was awarded the Royal Victorian Order. Two years later, the veterans were again inspected by the King, this time at a review at Crown Point and a special medal was struck to mark the occasion. It is said that the King himself designed the ribbon for this medal, but no proof of this can be found.

In 1905 the Headquarters was moved to Redwell Street, and in June 1914 to Princes Street. Maintenance problems and the high cost of repairs placed the funds in a very precarious position and it became necessary to sell the building and seek lodging elsewhere, so in 1958 a room was found for their exclusive use in the Old Comrades Club, St. Faiths Lane, but once again building deterioration forced them to move again and the meetings were held in the Keir Hardie Hall. Thanks to the generosity of the Norwich Working Mens Club, they are still held there today. For some four years, meetings were at the Belvedere Community Centre, Belvoir Street.

In 1909, the Corps of Commissioners was formed and at one time had a uniformed band, which used to play at such places as Chapelfield Gardens. Unfortunately this was disbanded, but the members of the Association manned the Norwich Union car park on Queens Road until 1993 when the arrangement was amicably terminated.

In May 1937 the Lord Mayor of Norwich Alderman Henry Holmes. J. P. presented the band with a beautiful Drum Majors Staff fully embellished with a silver mounting. This artefact is still in our collection.

In 1911, there was an inspection by King George V At the Royal Norfolk Show and the Association has a small-framed picture showing the Parade State for that day. It is interesting to see that at that time there were 3 Officers and 308 Veterans at Headquarters, 1 Officer and 91 Veterans in the Great Yarmouth Division, and 1 Officer and 54 Veterans in the Lowestoft Division. Counting those who were "Absent with Leave" (1 Officer and 34 Veterans), the total membership on that day stood at 6 Officers and 487 Veterans. A vastly different figure from today where membership is around the 100 mark but the enthusiasm is still there, as is witnessed by the attendance at the monthly meetings.

Wreath laying ceremony at the Boer War Memorial, 24th April 1990

RNVA members en route to Norwich Cathedral, 1978

By virtue of its title, the Veterans carry their Kings colour whenever the occasion arises, as well as the Association standard. There is also an Association tie for celebration occasions and official functions and another tie for informal occasions. There is also an Association Merit Medal a silver copy of the Association Badge, awarded for meritorious work, and in 1999 a blazer badge was commissioned.

The original Kings Colour was presented at the Thatched Assembly Rooms, Norwich, in January, 1914. The colour was given by the Ladies of the County. King George V was unable to be present but sent a message to Lord Leicester to hand the colour over on his behalf. This original was "laid up" in St. Stephens Church in Sunday, 29th September 1985 at 11am, and a replacement was presented by the President Colonel G. Dicker on the same day. Both standards have been recently refurbished and are in pristine condition.

For many years the President was The Earl of Leicester, but when he died his successor declined the honour as he felt he did not have the military background required to carry out the duties involved and the post was filled by the late Major R.Q. Gurney, following his tragic death in 1979 the position was taken by Col G.S.H. Dicker CBE. TD. DL.

Col. Dicker retired from the Association in May, 1993, and received a Merit Medal for his work with the Association. In February 1994, Major A.M. Blount became President of the Association. Major Blount is well known for his work with the Army Cadet Force.

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