While the Association is not in the habit of “blowing our own horn” there are times when we should remind ourselves as to some of the accomplishments that we have had or have been involved in over the years. We seem to have a sense of well being when we are involved in or proceeding with a project that exemplifies our credo, “Service and Friendship To Others.” For the most part, we do not seek out publicity unless we feel that it is the public interest to make the public aware that we have a completed project that we are extremely proud of .. i.e. the Sailor statue and our Warship Memorial. Normally, it is just a feeling of self satisfaction that we seek and appreciate.
In 1987 four retired CPO’s, living in the Halifax area set out to organize a group with the mission statement: “To preserve the unique relationship and mutual respect of those who have served and are serving as Chief Petty Officers and Petty Officers in Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) and HMC establishments” The group soon developed into an association with a worldwide membership. While its primary purpose was to support its members, it has provided aid to other organizations and charities under the skilled tasking from the direction of its nominated committee members and the general members at large. Camp Hill Memorial Hospital and Sea Cadet Corps in Nova Scotia soon became first and foremost in the concerns of the ACPOA. Requests from far and near that would ring the bell of a sailor’s heart always went to committee for consideration and discussion at monthly general meeting in Halifax or the monthly newsletter.
The major project undertaken was the creation of the “Sailor” statue that was stood on the waterfront in downtown Halifax at Sackville Landing. Financed solely through the members’ fund raising efforts the statue was unveiled in 1991 at a cost of $300,000. The dedication ceremony was attended by people from around the world and to this day is a point of attraction for visitors to the naval city of Halifax.
The ACPOA equipped two rooms in the IWK Children’s Hospital with furnishings and equipment. This generosity and love for children led the ACPO to send clothing and school books to Bosnia in their time of need Donations were received from all over Canada for a total of eight 20 foot container loads of supplies that were sent to the relief effort. The “Feed The Children” organization looked after the distribution of the supplies. With the amalgamation of the hospitals in Halifax, a surplus of medical supplies became available. The provincial Minister of Health, the Honourable R.D. Stewart, MD agreed that the surplus supplies could be sent to Bosnia as long as the ACPOA could manage to direct the supplies over there and so it was done and followed by a letter of appreciate that said in part; “Your imitative deserves recognition in that it sets an admirable standard for all Nova Scotians to aspire to. . .” “Thank you for demonstrating that caring and acting know no borders” At this point, six more containers were shipped to Bosnia. The goods included everything from gurneys and blood machines to operating gowns and prosthetic limbs. The ACPOA again contributed to disaster relief when, in September 1995, the Caribbean was clobbered by hurricanes Luis and Marilyn. Two container loads of the remaining medical supplies were sent to Antiqua in the West Indies. Ednis Roberts of the Antiqua Christian Council wrote: “Your expression of Kindness and Concern for the people of our nation has provided encouragement and hope for the future”
In 1992, the Carleton Hotel, built in the 1750s and Halifax’s second oldest building and the oldest brick building, had become run down and was scheduled for demolition, in stepped the ACPOA with $1.8 million in mortgage money, a working plan to house retired vets and rent out space. The debt load soon turned the corner and a home for a very interesting up scale restaurant named “The Press Gang”. Some years latter due to the heavy maintenance load the site was sold with a solid profit being turned over to ACPOA for safe long term investments.
In the Spring of 1997, the ACPOA was approached by the chaplain of the Veterans Memorial Hospital to investigate on behalf of Mr. Paul Bridson of Australia, the location of the gravesite of his younger brother Tony, a young seaman from the Isle of Man who died in Halifax in 1943. The Association took on the project, found the unmarked grave, raised funds, contacted the family, notified foreign and local dignitaries then ordered the headstone according to the wishes of the family. The headstone was placed in St. John’s Cemetery in Halifax, May 18th 1997. The headstone was unveiled by Paul Bridson in the presence of the Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia, His Honour, J. James Kinley, himself of the Isle of Man heritage and with proper recognition from the government of the Isle of Man.
Throughout all the above projects and others the ACPOA was assisted by all its members and especially those who served on committee’s answering the call to duty providing the backbone of the Association from beginning to the end in fine Naval Tradition.