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1995

1995

In 1995, wishing to preserve the history, tradition and uniqueness of SMYC as being the only non-Royal club in the world to hold a Warrant for its members to wear an Undefaced Blue Ensign, the then Commodore of Brighton Marina Yacht Club (BMYC) John J Duffy, determined to see if it was possible to resurrect the historic Club; little did he realise that it was going to take him five years to realise this ambition. John’s first task was to establish whether it was legally possible to resurrect the Club and this proved to be relatively easy, as he discovered that, in law, a club is the sum of its members, not its premises nor its possessions.

Having discovered that SMYC still existed in name by having 300 Life Members, he then decided to establish whether the Warrant for the Undefaced Blue was still valid. This proved to be much more difficult. First starting with the Admiralty his enquiries led to the Ministry of Defence and, initially, to Michael Portillo as Secretary of State for Defence. An election in 1997 brought in the Labour Party and John was concerned that the new Secretary of State, George Robertson would not take the same interest as his predecessor. Contrary to expectations, the newly appointed Minister, enthusiastically instructed his staff to assist in any way they could. Since 1928 no yacht club, other than armed services clubs, had been granted the right for its members to wear an Undefaced Blue Ensign on their boats. In 1922, their Lordships, in a meeting at the Admiralty, even stated that the Warrant granted to SMYC in 1909 “had been rashly given” but they did not withdraw it. At the time there was only one record of a yacht club having had its Warrant withdrawn and then reinstated which was the Royal Plymouth Corinthian and it looked as though it was unlikely that it would be possible to get a grant of reinstatement for SMYC, therefore, John had to establish that the SMYC Warrant was still valid. The MoD was of the view that the Club’s Warrant was valid if a permit issued under the Warrant was still in use by a yacht and a copy could be produced. Fortunately John knew of a former Commodore of SMYC who continued to use his permit – a copy was produced and sent to the MoD

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