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Students dine and debate alongside senior civic dignitaries at revival of historic Welsh club


Senior civic dignitaries and university students debated and dined together at the restoration of an historic Welsh event.


The Military Education Committee for Wales in association with the Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association (RFCA) for Wales recently revived the Defence Studies Dining Club after a 15 year gap of a regular Armed Forces related dinner event in Wales.


More than 140 guests attended the black-tie event at the Hilton Hotel in Cardiff and that included five of Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant’s from across the country and The Rt Hon Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales.


The guest speaker at the Defence Studies Dining Club was Lieutenant General (Retired) Sir Simon Mayall KBE CB, a former British Army Officer and Middle East Advisor to the Ministry of Defence. He spoke to an audience that included students from Bangor University, Cardiff University, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Glyndwr University, Swansea University and the University of South Wales.


Mr Ross Hall, Chairman of the Military Education Committee for Wales, said: “We were delighted to host such a successful dinner in association with RFCA for Wales. This will now become a regular fixture in the calendar and we hope to welcome more Welsh businesses, especially those who employ Reservists.


“It’s important to continue to incorporate the principles of learning and camaraderie between Tri-Services and the wider community. The evening is designed to encourage debate and we plan to grow the next dinner to be our most significant yet.”


The Defence Studies Dining Club is open to former and current Tri-Service Personnel, including Regulars and Reservist in the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force, as well as those in the University Service Units and Cadet organisations.


It importantly represents former members of the 53rd (Welsh) Divisional Dining Club, an historic dinner club that was established in 1936. It’s no longer able to meet in its own right as many members are too elderly or have passed away but the Defence Studies Dining Club aims to keep their spirit going.


The 53rd (Welsh) Division served in the First and Second World Wars, including key events such as the Battle of the Somme and the D-Day landings. One of their most famous members was Major Tasker Watkins VC, a former chairman of the Welsh Rugby Union whose statue stands outside the Principality Stadium.


Early in the evening, Captain Pete Andrews from 3rd Battalion The Royal Welsh received the Prince of Wales’ Best Expedition Award for a Reserve Unit. The award was presented on behalf of the Ulysses Trust and celebrated Exercise Dragon SISIMIUT, a gruelling nine day unsupported expedition.


Reservists took on the challenge of each carrying 22kg of kit whilst trekking a total of 165km across the Arctic Circle Trail in Greenland. It called on considerable fitness, stamina, self-reliance and teamwork, demonstrating the enhanced skillset and capabilities of Reservists.


Colonel Rex Stephenson CBE, of the Ulysses Trust, said: “By the time the expedition reached the end of the trail they were sun-tanned, grubby, and smelly, but also fitter, trail hardened and proud of their achievement.


“Consequently, the expedition achieved its aims admirably. This was a very special opportunity for Reserve soldiers to undertake under challenging conditions and in a unique setting.”


Guests were also entertained by musical performances from the Regimental Corps of Drums of the Royal Welsh and the Pipes of the 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, who were provided by 160th Infantry Brigade and HQ Wales.


(Monday 9 October 2017)

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