Surrey Constabulary Old Comrades Association
1931: Surrey Constabulary Old Comrades Association The early minute book of the Association shows and entry "No Sir, I think they never die." This was the reply that Major Nicholson gave to an enquiry when the point in issue was the length of time that the policemen were a charge on the community by drawing their pensions. Long may it be so!
The objects of the Association were established as good fellowship and comradeship and the fellowship was for many generations from foundation in 1931 based around an AGM and reunion lunch. The idea for the Association was that of a recently retired chief constable, Captain Sant who organised an inaugural meeting at St. Saviours Hall in Guildford on the 5 January 1931.
Captain Sant was elected President and Treasurer with Mr A. W. Dawes as the first secretary and an annual subscription of two shillings was agreed. The cost of the lunch was not to exceed three shillings and sixpence and when a member died, it was agreed a wreath would be sent. The railway company was to be approached to provide cheap fares for those attending the meeting.
The inaugural lunch was organised in the same hall for the 14 April 1931 when ninety six members attended along with Major Nicholson, the Head Constables of Guildford and Reigate sending their apologies. It was proposed and carried that on this first occasion a telegram should be sent to the King expressing the Association's loyalty and support for a speedy recovery from an illness. The King, through his private secretary responded. A tie was proposed, brown the county colour and blue and silver from the policeman's uniform.
There was discussion as to how they could be told of the death of a member but as this would entail postcards to all the matter was seen as impractical. After the lunch community songs were heartily sung and all forgot age and returned to youthful days. The members wanted a badge that incorporated the Crown but as this was refused by the Home Office members decided no crown no badge!
Over the coming years the AGM and lunch was held finally moving to Mount Browne in 1951 – the hundredth anniversary of the Surrey Constabulary where the event has been held since, although the accommodation is becoming much more difficult due to expansion of the Force.
The next fifty years saw little change, except abandoning subscriptions and adoption of the rule that all Surrey Police officers with over twenty two years service and Surrey Police pensioners police and civilian, automatically became members.
The coming of the personal computer and the considerable take up rate amongst pensioners was to revolutionise contact between the retired police officer from Surrey residents across the world to New Zealand, Australia, Far East, Vancouver, France and Spain. Tony Forward developed a Pensioner's Patch column in the force newspaper that grew into one hundred strong email addresses of pensioners who were notified of deaths of members. This supported a system of divisional representatives and a telephone chain which still has some life in it.
Following the death soon after retirement of Chief Superintendent Peter Stevens and the feeling by Bob Bartlett that retirement was more than death messages, and there were many good news stories to be told.
Old and Bold a monthly electronic newsletter was founded in early 2003 with in February 2009 a list membership of seven hundred and seventy across the world. The newsletter has acted as a focal point for the retired officers and has been supplemented by Tony using the same list, for circulating information on sick colleagues and putting people in touch. The list has also allowed for members to be contacted to be asked to visit ex colleagues requiring comfort or help across the land.
In the new century, Old Comrades is driven by the computer age (with the help of Robin Crorie), supported by area representatives, added to by Pensioners Patch working where possible with the National Association of Retired Police Officers two branches in the county. And now the Surrey Constabulary web page developed and driven by Denis Turner.
Added to this mix must not be forgotten the large number of departmental and divisional reunions; Dick Coles and Richard Johnson Traffic, Ted Sellars CID, John Stone Haslemere, Alan Fletcher Farnham, Ann Carter policewomen and no doubt many more.
The coming together of all these initiatives, driven by different people but with the aim of maintaining links and friendship means that the retired Surrey Officer no longer need to feel isolated or by default risk drifting away from lifelong friends and colleagues. In recent years chairman of the Old Comrades have been Chris Atkins, Tony Forward and Bob Bartlett with Fred Smith as Secretary for many a year.