About The Association
Our Regimental Association was formed on 14 May 1988 from the ex-Devonshire Regiment Old Comrades Association, the ex-Dorset Regiment Old Comrades Association and the Devonshire and Dorset Regimental Association. The Association is now one body, managed by volunteers, is a Registered Charity and is firmly in support of our successors in The Rifles.
The Association is managed by a Standing Committee, with a Chairman, Vice Chairmen for Devon and Dorset, two other members and a Secretary. It has traditional local Branches, based either on former battalions of the Regiment or on area or town groupings, each with its own committee structure. In addition, there are a number of local Focal Points; less formal groupings that conduct a range of social activities and suit contemporary social needs. There is an Officers' Club and a ‘Semper Fidelis’ Dinner Club.
Membership of the Association is open to anyone who has served with The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment and its antecedent Regiments, whether in the Regular Army, on National Service, in the Territorial Army or in the Devon or Dorset Army Cadet Forces. We also extend membership to anyone who is serving or has served in our successor Regiment, The Rifles, and from those who served with other Rifles antecedent regiments; The Royal Regiment of Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire, The Light Infantry and The Royal Green Jackets.
The rules of the Regimental Association can be found here. In brief, our objects are to promote the efficiency of the Army by maintaining:
- Contact between past and present members of The Regiment, fostering mutual friendship between them and providing suitable social gatherings.
- The esprit de corps and comradeship that members found whilst serving.
- The traditions of The Regiment, and to publicise and disseminate information concerning the history, deeds and customs of the Regiment.
- To alert The Rifles, which now manages welfare funds on behalf of its antecedent regiments, to any welfare needs of past members of our Regiment and their dependants who are in conditions of need, hardship or distress.
- To encourage recruiting into The Rifles.
Photo by Michael Woodward at www.shotwithspirit.com.
- Patron: Field Marshal HRH The Duke of Kent KG, GCMG, GCVO, ADC - Royal Colonel of 1st Battalion The Rifles.
- President: General Sir John Wilsey GCB CBE DL - Chairman of the Regimental Trustees.
- Vice-President: Brigadier R H D Toomey CBE (Richard) - Colonel (South West) of The Rifles.
- Honorary Deputy Presidents: Brigadier JP Randle OBE MC, Brig DCN Shaw CBE - appointed for their distinguished service to the Regiment.
- Chairman: Lieutenant Colonel W M Sharpe MBE (Bill).
- Vice-Chairmen: Devon - Vacant, Dorset - Major JD Gaye (John).
- Secretary and Treasurer: Major H Jellard MBE (Don) - Rifles Regimental Secretary for Devon.
Each Association Branch and Focal Point conducts meetings and a number of social events annually. The Association is also involved in a number of other activities during the year including battlefield tours, Remembrance Day parades, anniversary commemorations at home and abroad, civic events and activities in support of The Rifles, not least parading with the new Regiment as it exercises its freedom of cities and towns in Devon and Dorset.
Every year, in either May or June, the Association comes together for its annual Regimental Reunion. This prestigious event includes our Annual General Meeting, a parade and march to celebrate our Regiment and to demonstrate to our two counties our continued existence, a Service of Remembrance, an awards ceremony and a buffet lunch.
Welfare and Aftercare
Key elements of the Association’s work are a contribution to welfare and aftercare. Each Branch has a Welfare Officer who maintains contact with the Association Secretary in Exeter, alerting him when members are in need, including those who are in hospital and nursing homes and for those who require long term care in the community. Financial support in such cases is now provided through The Rifles Benevolence Charity, to which we pass information. The Association also maintains contact with the widows of former members.
The Association conducts and attends events to remember those members of our Regiments who fell in battle or died during their service. There are many Regimental memorials both at home and abroad that mark specific conflicts. Our remembrance is focussed on our two Regimental chapels:
The Chapel of St Edmund in Exeter Cathedral is the 'Chapel of the Devonshire Regiment and The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment' (see photo).
It was rededicated as such on 18 May 2013 in a service conducted in the Cathedral by The Dean of Exeter, The Very Revd Jonathan Draper, assisted by our Association Chaplain, The Revd Canon Ray Jones. The event was attended by our Patron, HRH The Duke of Kent and many Association members..
In Sherborne Abbey the colours of the Dorset Regiment are laid-up in the north aisle and the ambulatory, which forms our second Regimental Chapel, dedicated to The Dorset Regiment.
A monthly Remembering The Fallen ceremony is conducted in the Chapel at 11.00 a.m. on the third Friday of each month, during which a member of the Association reads out the names of one page of each of the two Dorset Regiment Books of Remembrance, and the Sherborne Book of Remembrance. Anyone is welcome to attend this short service.
The Association Branches, and indeed the whole Regimental Association membership, provide a useful conduit for recruiting for the Regular and Territorial Army battalions of The Rifles, and the Army Cadet Force in Devon and Dorset.
(Revised 31 May 2012)