A Bit of History
The AFCEA (UK) West Chapter was established in 1988, by members of RAF Rudloe Manor and Headquarters 2 Signal Brigade Corsham, who were both independently beginning to form new Fixed Service Communications Staff after moves from London and Aldershot. It was then called AFCEA Wessex to encompass the area that it was thought members would come from. The committee functions were shared between both headquarters, and both military and commercial organisations from the Wessex area were invited to join. Meetings were held at RAF Rudloe Manor and HQ 2 Sig Bde Officers Messes. Initial meetings drew only about ten attendees, growing to at most thirty.
By 1992 many members, in particular companies and military members, had joined but also left. In December 1992 a meeting of 12 interested members was held to decide on whether to disband the Chapter. By this time meetings were held in a local hotel, which proved expensive, and inappropriate. Recent arrivals and returning original members considered that the Chapter could be re-established with some radical changes, which include a new venue, concentration on a more commercial programme appropriate to a more mixed commercial and Government area of the UK, the re-naming of the Group to UK West to better represent the catchment area, and dropping of the term Chapter which has different connotations in the UK to the USA. These changes were cleared with AFCEA London and AFCEA headquarters in the USA.
Numbers increased quickly and sufficient for the Branch to win an award in 1994 for the most individuals recruited, with regular meetings taking place at the Officers Mess, 21 Signal Regiment at Corsham in Wiltshire for some time, followed by a variety of alternative venues, including the Defence Communications Services Agency at Corsham, the Defence Procurement Agency at Abbey Wood in Bristol, and the former DERA site, now QinetiQ, at Malvern in Worcestershire. Another favourite venue is the Bear at Rodborough Hotel, near Stroud in the Cotswolds.
The current AFCEA UK West
AFCEA UK West is run under the leadership of the Chapter President, Colonel John Kirby, and we strive to provide an exciting programme of meetings that cross the multiple strands of communications, IT and intelligence. Recent briefings have included an insight into the RCIED threat from L3-TRL as well as an overview of the UK’s first Cyber ‘Test Range’.
Meetings are now held at The Thistle Hotel in Cheltenham on the second Thursday of each month. Timings for events are drinks from 1900 hrs, presentation at about 1945 hrs followed by supper beginning at about 2100 hrs. The Thistle provides AFCEA UK West with conference facilities, a 3 course meal including wine and a very competitive room rate should guests or members wish to stay over.
Details of how to get involved are available from the membership pages so get in touch, come along and meet other like-minded and interesting people enjoying the benefits of what AFCEA has to offer.