Students dine and debate alongside senior civic dignitaries at revival of historic Welsh club

Senior civic dignitaries and university students debated and dined together this month at the restoration of an historic Welsh event.

Defence studies dining 1The Military Education Committee for Wales in association with the Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association (RFCA) for Wales recently revived the Defence Studies Dining Club after a 15 year gap of a regular Armed Forces-related dinner event in Wales.

More than 140 guests attended the black-tie event at the Hilton Hotel in Cardiff including five of Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant’s from across the country and The Rt Hon Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister of Wales.

The guest speaker at the Defence Studies Dining Club was Lieutenant General (Retired) Sir Simon Mayall KBE CB, a former British Army Officer and Middle East Advisor to the Ministry of Defence. He spoke to an audience that included students from Bangor University, Cardiff University, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Glyndwr University, Swansea University and the University of South Wales.

Mr Ross Hall, Chairman of the Military Education Committee for Wales, said: “We were delighted to host such a successful dinner in association with RFCA for Wales. This will now become a regular fixture in the calendar and we hope to welcome more Welsh businesses, especially those who employ Reservists.”

“It is important to continue to incorporate the principles of learning and camaraderie between Tri-Services and the wider community. The evening is designed to encourage debate and we plan to grow the next dinner to be our most significant yet.”

The Defence Studies Dining Club is open to former and current Tri-Service Personnel, including Regulars and Reservists in the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force, as well as those in the University Service Units and Cadet organisations.

Defence studies dining 3It importantly represents former members of the 53rd (Welsh) Divisional Dining Club, an historic dinner club that was established in 1936. The Club is no longer able to meet in its own right as many members are too elderly or have passed away but the Defence Studies Dining Club aims to keep their spirit alive.

The 53rd (Welsh) Division served in the First and Second World Wars, including key events such as the Battle of the Somme and the D-Day landings. One of their most famous members was Major Tasker Watkins VC, a former chairman of the Welsh Rugby Union whose statue stands outside the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.

Captain Pete Andrews from 3rd Battalion, The Royal Welsh received the Prince of Wales’ Best Expedition Award for a Reserve Unit. The award was presented on behalf of the Ulysses Trust and celebrated Exercise Dragon SISIMIUT, a gruelling nine day unsupported expedition.


  • Image 1. Commander Steve Fry - Commanding Officer of HMS Cambria, Brigadier Alan Richmond OBE – Commander of 160th Infantry Brigade and HQ Wales, Hon Dame Shân Legge-Bourke DCVO - Lord-Lieutenant of Powys, Lieutenant General (Retired) Sir Simon Mayall KBE CB, The Rt Hon Carwyn Jones AM – First Minister of Wales, Mr Ross Hall – Chairman of the Military Education Committee, Colonel Nick Beard – Chairman of RFCA for Wales.
  • Image 2. Lieutenant General (Retired) Sir Simon Mayall KBE CB presenting the Prince of Wales’ Best Expedition Award for a Reserve Unit to Captain Pete Andrews, 3rd Battalion The Royal Welsh.