Editorial.  Joy of joys, a new Administrative Officer, AO, has been recruited for Regimental Headquarters Lancashire.  For the first time I now believe that the light at the end of the tunnel is just that and not the train that has run me over several times in the last nine months.  The loss of my AO, as I was beginning to get to grips with the appointment and as the Fusiliers’ Museum Project was about to take off, was to say the least a little disconcerting.  In fact it was a potential show stopper for both the Lancashire Headquarters and the Fusiliers’ Museum Project.  As the new boy on the block I was starting work on unfamiliar projects with people that didn’t know me.  In addition tasks related to the Fusiliers’ Museum Project, rather than being reduced, were increasing exponentially.  Thus faced with an increasing workload and decreasing administrative support, I was to say the least a little bit worried about the future.


Ever the optimist I now believe that the situation is now beginning to change for the better.  As I write Lindsay, the new AO, is in the throws of her hand over from Eileen who bravely stood in and kept the Headquarters ticking over following Heathers’ departure.  Despite difficult personal circumstances, Eileen has worked extremely hard to keep the office running and I would personally like to thank her for putting in the extra time and maintaining a sense of humour throughout.  I would also like to thank everyone else who has done their bit.  Tony Sprason did far more than would normally be expected of the Museum Attendant.  While Eric Davidson the Chairman of the Regimental Association Lancashire and the Association Secretary John Scotson put in a extra ordinary amount of voluntary overtime.  Finally I must also thank the staff of Regimental Headquarters at the Tower.  Their support was invaluable and in particular I am grateful to Alex who came up for a week, to stay in the wilds of Bury, to help out Eileen and brief her on the responsibilities of an AO.


However I recognise we are not out of the woods yet and that there may be further staff changes on the horizon, although none are being planned by this HQ.  The additional work load imposed by the Regimental Museum Project, on what is in effect a new and inexperienced headquarters team, will continue to pose challenges.  However it is hoped that the opening of a separate Regimental Museum Project Office, will go some way towards redressing the imbalance.  The Project Office will be manned by volunteers and open five days a week.  It will take on responsibility for fundraising, marketing and publicity.  John O’Grady has come out of retirement to lead the team and he is already robbing my stationary store! 


In terms of my own programme, major projects stopped at the end of March although slow progress has been made in several minor areas since.  Nevertheless once Lindsay is firmly in the chair activity will increase and the work that I believe is essential for the long term future of this headquarters can be completed.  If the anticipated move goes ahead I have just over 24 months to prepare not just the Regimental Collection but also the Regimental Headquarters as well.  However despite everything that has been throw at us, the spirit of the permanent and volunteer staff remains high and a credit to the Regiment.


Staff Changes.  I would like to formally welcome Lindsay Walsh to the Lancashire Headquarters Team and hope that she enjoys the challenge of working in an infantry regimental headquarters.  She comes to us, on promotion, from 216 Battery Royal Artillery based in Bolton.  Despite her Royal Artillery background I have no doubt that she can be educated in the ways of the Infantry and the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in particular.  With only a few days into the handover she has already made comment on the pace of work at Wellington Barracks, to the effect that her TA unit was a “sleepy hollow” when compared to the Area Headquarters.  It is a pity that she wasn’t around for the visit of the RHQ Review Team.  Perhaps Infantry RHQs do provide value for money after all.


Gallipoli Weekend.  The most important event in the Lancashire Calendar is the Gallipoli Weekend.  It is not just a memorial to the ill fated 1915 landings at Gallipoli but has evolved as the annual Lancashire commemoration and celebration for all Fusiliers past and present.  This was my first Gallipoli Weekend and despite my concerns over staff support all went well largely due to the assistance and guidance of Eric Davidson and John Scotson.  At this point I would also like to record grateful thanks to my wife, Elizabeth, who typed the letters and instructions which I had rewritten and brought up to date.  I was amused to find that the instructions on file were the same ones that I had been issued as the TA Parade Commander in 1995 and I realised that it was time that they were brought up to date!


The weekend witnessed a full programme.  The Association Dinner was held on the Saturday night in Bury Town Hall Elizabethan Suite.  The evening celebrated not only Gallipoli but in good Fusilier fashion, St George’s Day as well.  The evening went well and I have to compliment the organisational skills of the Regimental Association Lancashire.  Gallipoli Sunday saw 600 people including140 ACF Cadets muster for the Church Service and Parade.  The ACF is a real RRF success story in Lancashire and deserves all the support that the Regiment can provide.  It may not generate many recruits into the Regiment but it is the Regiment’s principle uniformed presence in Lancashire and the Regiments’ primary uniformed marketing tool.  I was also impressed with the number of Territorial Army Fusiliers who either paraded in uniform or supported the event in other ways.  The Castle Armoury is only established for a platoon but there were considerably more on parade than I had anticipated.  Despite the uncertainty generated by the Future Army Study TA, morale remains high and pride in the hackle has not faltered.


Last year witnessed a special event when the Pipes and Drums of the Lorne Scots took part in the Gallipoli Parade. As a result numbers at the Regimental Lunch were up on the previous year.  It was therefore predicted that this year numbers would be down.  Predictions were confounded when 254 sat down to lunch and enjoyed an excellent afternoon.  I am now looking forward to 2006 and considering a number of options for the Weekend.  The principle area of concern is the Regimental Lunch.  The Castle Armoury is labour intensive to set up and run and the manpower to do this is no longer readily available.  Consideration has been given to moving the event to the Town Hall, but the Castle Armoury will be give one more try in 2006.  It will be more expensive as paid staff will now do the jobs previously done by volunteers.  Nevertheless some volunteer assistance will still be needed.  So think ahead put the date in your diary and make an effort to come and give a hand.