Over a number of years various RNSA members based along the Thames Valley, and it’s a big valley when you look at it on the map, had noticed how many Blue Ensigns and RNSA burgees were to be seen on the River Thames. These were being worn/flown by all sorts of Thames based craft from motor cruisers to narrow boats, sailing dinghies to ocean going craft, either visiting the river or using Thames moorings or marinas for winter storage or refits. So, whether classic or plastic, sail or power, steam launch or skiff, one way or another there are a lot of RNSA members on the river. Trouble was that apart from the odd hail in passing or the occasional beer in an adjoining cockpit, there was no way of getting everybody together on a reasonably regular basis.
So, the idea of forming a new RNSA branch for the Thames Valley came about. The Association HQ in Gosport was approached and it was agreed that, to test the water as to member reaction, an exploratory meeting, in the form of a lunch party, would be organised. If support was adequate, the idea would be taken further; if it was not, then the project would be put on ice for a while until it was though appropriate to try again. A date and location, 23 February in Henley-on-Thames, was fixed and it was agreed that a total of twenty to thirty takers, including spouses/partners, would be a good baseline for the possible formation of a Branch – we ended up with over 60! In fact, the event was so successful that it even made the Henley local paper! Furthermore, the numbers were swelled by 15 or so RNSA members who, whilst they were unable to attend the lunch, said that they would be interested in taking part in the activities of the Branch. So, to cut a long story short, the Branch has been formed, a committee selected, funding allocated and we’re up and running.