Some forty members and guests of the Tamar Branch of No 10 Group ROCA gathered at the Eagle House Hotel in Launceston, Cornwall on Saturday 12 December 2009 for their Christmas Dinner. But this was to be no usual dinner, for at this event, Branch Secretary Shirley Abell was presented with the President’s Certificate by Group ROCA Chairman Tony Child MBE.
It was a very surprised Shirley who went forward in the presence of all her colleagues and friends to receive the well deserved award. Tony said that Shirley had joined the ROC in 1978 and had served continuously on the Bere Alston Post first as an observer then as L/Observer. At general stand down in 1991 she joined the Group ROCA and when the East Cornwall Branch was formed in June 1992, it was reported that the interim Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer was indeed Shirley Abell ! She was officially appointed Branch Secretary in May 1994 and has served in that capacity ever since, a service period of 16 years. She has regularly attended meetings and social events and indeed is a natural ‘organiser’. Her strong support for the branch continued despite the sad death of her husband John, a little while ago, who was also a long serving member of the ROC and ROCA.
In 2003 the North Cornwall branch closed and members transferred to the East Cornwall branch and when the Plymouth branch ceased to actively exist many members form the Plymouth area also transferred to the East Cornwall Branch. To reflect the widespread nature of its members the branch name was changed to the ‘Tamar Branch’ in March 2008. Throughout all these changes Shirley maintained excellent contact and communication with all members. Today the Tamar branch has some 26 members and is a vibrant well supported part of 10 Group ROCA. Shirley has also been an active member of the 10 Group committee for many years.
Tony Child finally added ‘The award of the President’s Certificate of Commendation not only recognises Shirley Abell’s long and faithful service to the Association but also confirms that the National Committee of ROCA also recognises and values the support of members in helping to keep alive the spirit of the Royal Observer Corps in the more remote parts of the country’.