Committee, History and Constitution

RATCO - A Brief History of the Association

In the early 1990s three senior retired ATCOs were working in London and meeting for the occasional lunch. Inevitably times past were discussed and the lack of contact with other retired ATCOs was bemoaned. In the past social gatherings had been organised at which both active and retired ATCOs attended and there were fond memories of reunions in Exeter and Yeovilton. The CATCO at the time had indicated that he would continue those, but nothing had happened for some years. The three decided that something had to be done to at least get a reunion of retired ATCOs organised. A letter was sent to CATCO suggesting that a reunion be planned, but the response was not encouraging so it was decided to take the initiative and organise something, so the RATCO Association was born.

A first Reunion was planned at the FAA Museum in 1994. This was very successful with more than 100 retirees and their partners mingling in the Warneford Restaurant. Commander Dougie Farge was inducted as the RATCO President with Chris Lean (Secretary), Malcolm Fuller (Treasurer) and David Marten forming the RATCO Committee to support him.

Since those early beginnings the RATCO Association has continued to grow. Sadly, in 1996, Dougie Farge passed away and an election was held to replace him as President. David Marten was elected President with Chris Lean and Malcolm Fuller forming the rest of the Committee. Although there was no membership fee for belonging to RATCOs a bank account was set up to manage re-union funds. A Constitution was also drafted.

Over the next few years re-unions were held approximately every two years. Most of those events took place in the Yeovilton area as that was convenient for the majority of RATCOs. There were however exceptions, in 2002 a reunion was held at RAF Shawbury, our Alma Mater, which was coordinated by Baz Winwood (a former SNO) who was a Mess Member at the time. RATCOs were also invited to be represented at RN ATCO Branch Symposiums at Dartmouth (2006) and Fort Blockhouse in Gosport (2007). In 2007 RATCOs were invited to hold a reunion aboard HMS Victory in Portsmouth by the then ATCO Commanding Officer of the ship, John Scivier, it was a splendid evening very well attended by members and partners in a wonderful venue.

At the Shawbury reunion in it was announced that an association newsletter would be produced and the first edition, called “RATCO Ramblings”, was duly distributed at the end of 2002. However the title was considered by members to be too near the truth, so it was changed for the next addition at the end of 2003 to “Roundown” as that was thought to be a term that most RATCOs were familiar with.

At the beginning of 2008 with the original team having been in place for more than a decade it was decided a change of watch at the helm would be appropriate. The current CATCO, Pete Dawson, agreed to become President (It was thought that with the CATCO as President the Association would have a closer relationship with the serving branch). Tim Smart became Chairman with Don Thomson Secretary and Malcolm Fuller, for continuity purposes, initially remaining as Treasurer; John Heath eventually took over that role. David Marten continued as Newsletter Editor until Martyn Pinnock took over that responsibility.

That team remained in place until 2015 when there was another watch change and the current association management took over. From 2008 to 2015 reunions were held annually on the basis that not everybody would attend every reunion, but sufficient would to make annual gatherings worthwhile.

There is now a new approach with the launch of a RATCO website, which it is hoped will bring members closer together and provide a greater opportunity to exchange information.

Our Constitution



There shall be an organisation known as the Royal Naval Retired Air Traffic Control Officers Association (RATCOs), hereafter referred to as the Association.

Objects of the Association

The objects of the Association are philanthropic and shall be to maintain contact between retired RN and WRNS Air Traffic Control Officers and their immediate relatives or partners or surviving partners for the purposes of social, welfare and networking as well as maintaining contact with those currently serving in the Branch.


Membership of the Association shall be open to all retired RN & WRNS Officers who were commissioned and qualified as (X)(ATC), their widows/widowers and all serving RN ATC Officers who are :

a) within three years of retirement and

b) are in their last operational appointment in the service.

Additionally, RAF Air Traffic Control Officers or controllers from other nations who have served as exchange officers at a Royal Naval Air Station or at sea are entitled to join the Association. Warrant Officers and Chief Petty Officers who have qualified ATC may also be invited to join as full members.

Individuals not included in the above may be invited to join in an honorary capacity at the discretion of the Committee, but will not be eligible to participate in any election process for the Committee.

The Committee

The Association shall be governed by a Committee elected by its registered members. The Committee shall manage all aspects of the affairs of the Association. The Committee shall comprise a President, a Secretary and a Treasurer. The Committee may co-opt other members (including from the RNR Branch) as it sees fit for particular purposes.

Committee Meetings

The Committee shall meet at the discretion of the President, but any member of the committee may call a meeting if s/he believes it necessary. Meetings will be minuted at the discretion of the President, but the nature of any business conducted and the dates upon which any meetings were held shall be reported to members in a Newsletter.

Election of the Committee

The Committee shall be elected following a general poll among members overseen by the President. Election to each vacant post shall be decided by a simple majority. The Committee shall offer itself for re-election at intervals not exceeding five years. There shall be no limit to the number of terms served by any Committee member subject to his/her having been properly elected.

Nomination to the Committee

When an election is announced by the President, registered members of the Association may nominate a candidate for election to any post for which the election is being held. This nomination shall be seconded by another registered member and be countersigned by the individual nominated to confirm that s/he is content with the nomination and will accept the position if elected. No person who is not a registered member of the Association shall be eligible to nominate a prospective Committee Member or participate in the poll.

Notice of the Election

The President shall give at least 56 days notice of an election and any nominations for the Committee shall be received not less than 28 days prior to the poll being conducted. Formal seconded nominations are not required for existing Committee members who are offering themselves for re-election.

Role of the Committee

The Committees duties will be:

a) To manage the affairs of the Association.

b) To maintain a list of registered members.

c) To produce a regular Newsletter.

d) To arrange social gatherings on a regular basis.

e) To be the prime point of contact with those currently serving in the Branch.

f) To exercise discretion regarding the introduction of a levy from Members (either in the form of an annual subscription or administration charge added to the cost of any event) to cover running costs and enable the Association to function meaningfully in accordance with the Constitution.

g) To review the Constitution at regular intervals.

The Committee is authorised to open and maintain a Bank account, management of which will be delegated to the Treasurer. Fully reconciled accounts will be produced and approved by the Committee following every occasion for which contributions are required from members or that the end of any financial year during which the Committee had decided to raise a subscription.

Meetings of Members

Formal meetings of members will be held at the discretion of the Committee. These will normally precede, or form part of, social functions organised by the Committee. When such a meeting is required it will be announced in the calling notice for a social event enabling non attendees the opportunity to vote by post.

Winding up

The Association may be wound up at any time by resolution following a majority of those voting at a meeting of members called by the Committee as above. In that event the Bank account will be closed and any residual funds shall be donated to a Naval charity at the discretion of the Committee.