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President and Vice President, Mrs Lucy Winskell, Lord Lieutenant of Tyne & Wear and Mrs Sue Snowdon, Lord Lieutenant of Co Durham, joined the Chair, Col Gordon Straughan, Vice Chairs and guests of the NE RFCA at the RFCA Annual Conference in London in November 2023. 

The connecting defence with society conference was opened by General Lord Houghton, GCB CBE DL. The event focused on addressing the challenges of an unstable global context and bolstering the UK’s Reserve Forces, with emphasis on the role of societal engagement to achieve this.

General Lord Houghton highlighted the existing gap in the connection between government and society, affirming the RFCAs as key communicators between the two. Lord Houghton continued, stressing the significance of volunteer forces as one of the few truly strategic components of national capability. He underscored the crucial role of the RFCA in bridging the gap between governmental initiatives and wider society, particularly in national defence.

The conference provided a platform for General Gwyn Jenkins CB OBE ADC, Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, to give an update on the UK’s defence strategy. He outlined the need for a robust Reserve force in today’s global landscape, and the significant contributions of cadet programmes in fostering personal development. Their role in the broader defence framework was also acknowledged.

Key insights were shared by Maj Gen Marc Overton and the Rt Hon Dr Andrew Murrison MP, who covered the integration of Reservists into the defence strategy, and the government’s support for defence people and their families.

Senior cadet leadership gave presentations by cadets on the substantial influence of their cadet-ship on their growth and aspirations, reinforcing the critical role of cadet programmes in youth development.

The remaining discussion and Lord de Mauley’s closing remarks reiterated the significance of continued societal support and participation in strengthening the UK’s defence posture.

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