Martinique Dinner – 12th February 2016

On the evening of Friday 12th February, Wales University Royal Naval Unit held its annual Martinique Dinner within their home base, HMS Cambria.  This traditional Naval Mess Dinner takes place each year, in recognition of the Battle Honour held by the first HMS EXPRESS, which took part in the Battle of Martinique in 1808.

Preparations for the dinner started months in advance, with each member of the Martinique Division (one of the 3 Divisions within Wales URNU and the one nominated with organising the Mess Dinner) allocated a different role.  The event was given an attention to detail that could have redefined “military precision”.  The day before the dinner, the team descended on HMS Cambria and, within a few hours, the Drill Deck had been transformed from an empty space into a dramatic setting, with a parachute suspended from the ceiling and White Ensigns and Welsh flags adorning the walls.

 

On the morning of “the big day”, members of the unit arrived early and busied themselves to ensure that the finishing touches were completed in good time; the silverware gleamed and the unit was spotless.  After changing into uniform, the traditional photographs were taken and it was then time to receive guests.  Pre-dinner drinks gave the students a fantastic opportunity to network with serving members of the Armed Forces, each with their own unique experiences to share.

The food that was served was of an exceptional standard and the external catering company, Cresta Caterers, did a fantastic job ensuring that proceedings ran correctly.  After numerous toasts, the guest of honour, Commodore Kyd, the future Commanding Officer of the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, gave a speech, providing an insight into the future of the UK’s carrier strike capability.  It was quite a coup for WURNU to have got such a distinguished Officer to speak at the dinner.  After the speeches, the guests were invited to the Wardroom bar, while the drill deck was cleared and once again transformed, this time into a dance hall, with the help of a local DJ.

The dinner was clearly an outstanding success, with praise received from every quarter.  Here’s to next year – let’s hope it is as well received as this one.

WURNU Sports Weekend 2016

On the weekend of the 19th-21st February, 3 minibus-loads of Wales URNU students arrived in Portsmouth to take part in the annual URNU Sports Weekend.  Quickly settling into HMS Bristol, it was off to Temeraire to play some friendly matches of netball and rugby, against other URNUs before attending the URNU Golden Jubilee Dinner at HMS Nelson.

The Jubilee Dinner was a lovely occasion in a superb venue and one of the only times that representatives of all 14 URNUs have attended a mess dinner together. It was a fantastic opportunity to socialise and get to know some of the other URNU students, as well as catch up with some old acquaintances. Commander University was the Guest of Honour.  He made a speech about the importance of URNU and where he sees it in the future.

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The following day we launched ourselves into a full-on weekend of sport, kicking off with our first rugby match against Manchester. We lost 10-0, and the team regrouped and prepared for the next match. Next we played hockey, and lost 2-0, putting us into the Plate for both sports. Finally we had a netball match, which cheered team spirits after a 23-1 victory over Edinburgh.

The rowing also took place on the Saturday and, after heroic efforts, AO/C Ellis and AO/C Ryan took home the rowing cup for WURNU – a great achievement.

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The rugby team played a second match against a strong Bristol team, and lost 5-0, putting them out of the Plate.

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That evening we had a social, with the theme of musicals. Wales chose Bugsy Malone, and we were an intimidating force of gangsters and floozies to be reckoned with.

On the final day of sports, the hockey team played Edinburgh and, with a confident performance, beat them 2-0. This put us into the Plate final against Yorkshire. Spirits were high and we had improved game upon game as a team. Some excellent individual goals from AO/C Nightingale and Mid Newton secured the win for us in the final.

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In our second netball match we played Liverpool. Excellent teamwork and accurate shooting from AO/C Dodd meant we won 18-11, putting us into the Cup semi-final against Bristol. It was a close fought first half of netball, but Bristol widened the gap in the second half, leading to a 13-8 win.

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We also played our first match of football, which we lost 2-0, and unfortunately it was a knock-out competition.  The Bucketball match was extremely close, matching goal for goal until the last few seconds, when Liverpool snatched victory away from us.

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Overall we finished 6th place out of 14 Units, won the hockey plate, won the rowing, and got to the Cup semi-finals in netball.  This means we have no organising responsibilities next year, which our Command team were pleased to hear.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend, and the units’ team spirits and support never faltered. There were some excellent individual and team performances and everyone involved upheld the high standards expected of Wales URNU.

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This included the dragon mascot who, in his enthusiasm, did suffer some wing damage towards the end of the weekend, but nothing that can’t be repaired before next year!