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The RMA was formed in 1930. Activity of the Association was suspended when the Brigade was mobilised in 1939.
When the National Fire Service was disbanded in 1948, and the LFB was reinstated under the LCC the activities of the RMA resumed with a dinner in Soho pictured right
The photograph is a record of a dinner held at Oddenions restaurant in late 1948, which marked the revival of the Association following the War.
The members in this photograph were the backbone of the Brigade who served through the Blitz. Within this gathering is DCO Major Jackson Commanding the LFB, Mr. Delve who subsequently became Sir Frederick Delve and Mr. Sullivan all senior members of the Brigade. Also pictured is George Bennison who as Secretary of the RMA was instrumental in reviving the RMA and Dinner. George remained as Secretary of the RMA until 1970 when Jim Syrett took over.
Unfortunately no records remain of pre war activities except for two booklets containing details of members and a photograph of the dinner in late 1948.
Within the first book, which was the first to be published, is recorded details of S. G. Gamble who joined the brigade as Deputy Chief Officer in 1892 and retired in that position in 1917. Also listed is Sir Sampson Sladen who joined the Brigade in 1899 and retired in 1918.
There was also an Overseas and Others Branch so named to cover all overseas members and “Others” covered areas in the UK were membership was low perhaps Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
Each Branch had a Branch Organiser who collected subscriptions, issued annual re-union tickets and did all other administrative duties, in particular visiting members in hospital attending funerals, informing the Fire Service National Benevolent Fund (now the Firefighters Charity) of members who had problems including Widows. He was available to give advice to next of kin in the event of a death and on the procedure to be followed in respect of cancelling pensions. This is still the essence of the organisation to-day and we now have a Women’s Branch for retired women firefighters and widows.
In the blue booklet (left), which dates from 1933, Major Morris is recorded as the Chief Officer and Patron of the Association together with Mr. Dyer the former Chief who retired in 1932. Serving on the Committee is Clarina Shaw daughter of Sir Eyre Massey Shaw the Brigade’s first Chief Officer appointed in 1865.
A re-organisation of finances and layout of the organisation was undertaken by the new Secretary Ron Alsford and Ron Borrows. During this period there were 1500 members scattered all over the country and abroad. A system was introduced which aligned membership into a District in which you lived. These districts were called “Branches”. In London branches were based on Divisional Boundaries “A” Division, ”B” Division etc. covering all 11 Divisions then into the counties Devon, Cornwall and East Anglia etc.
In the mid eighties a National Association of Retired Firefighters (NARF) was formed to safeguard pensions and pensioners with Membership of the Public Services Council and Age Concern. London was well represented through the good offices mainly of Bill Meaden. London withdrew its membership from the NARF in 2001.
Stronger links with the London Fire Brigade Welfare Fund and the FSNBF were forged after the withdrawal from the NARF. London RMA became stronger in its own right and was not required to follow national criteria.
George Perren had retired in 1988 and following the death of Ron Alsford became Secretary, Treasurer, Membership Secretary and London’s Representative on the National Council of National Association of Retired Firefighters.
While in office, he initially, on behalf of the National Association and London RMA, set up and organised the “Blitz” September Memorial Service. The theme being to hold a memorial Service in a Church within the City of London which had been partially destroyed in the “Blitz” and then rebuilt. This service was followed by a march through the City and a wreath laying at the “Blitz” Statue near St. Paul’s Cathedral.
It was agreed that the service would be held on a Sunday close to the date of 7th September 1940 when the blitz of London began and was undertaken for three years by the London Retired Members Association. These early services and marching contingents comprised of many London and National Firemen and Women who had served during the war years.
For many years George Perren Secretary of the LFB RMA through correspondence requested the Royal British Legion to include a detachment of Firefighters in the National Remembrance Service and Parade at the Cenotaph in Whitehall but was refused on the grounds quote:
‘...that you are not part of the armed forces, and are a civilian organisation’
Gerry Clarkson, LFB RMA Chairman became involved by writing to the Queen Mother, The Queen and Prime Minister of the day. Replies showed that the Royal British Legion were responsible for the Service and Parade. A change of heart was made and since 2000 a contingent of ex Fire Fighters and members of families of Fire Fighters parade at Whitehall on Remembrance Sunday with members of the armed forces in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen.
Another objective which was achieved by George was to allow retired members who were also members of the Welfare fund to take part in the London Fire Brigade Welfare Fund Lottery. At first objections were raised because serving Welfare Members had the monthly lottery payment deducted from their salaries BUT monies could not be deducted from Pensions. There was a change in administration and monies were no longer paid through an agency. This opened the door to Retired Fire Fighters joining the Lottery and allowed for subscriptions to be taken from pensions.
Currently 1/3 of the membership of the Welfare fund comprises of retired members,and as there numbers continue to increase the likely hood of
a retired member winning a lottery prize including the top prize of £10,000,is ever increasing.