Overseas Service Pensioners' Association OSPA

Charles Cullimore

Charles Cullimore was the last Chairman of OSPA. This photograph shows him accompanied by his wife in daughter at the Farewell Reception on June 8th 2017. In the March 2017 copy of the Overseas Pensioner he wrote:

"A year ago the journal contained my letter about the Time for Closure'. We have progressed plans for that event, while continuing to deal with regular business. However, this will be the last Chairman's Annual Report, because the Association will finally come to an end in the last quarter of this year. I and all my colleagues on the Council share the deep regret of all members on this situation, but it has had to be accepted because our reserves are running out.

An important new project has been started, which is designed to extend the record of OSPA members' service and experiences after OSPA itself closes. This is "Project Voices", inspired by and managed from the University of Vienna, with support from other universities in the US. It is significant that over 100 OSPA members have offered to take part in the initial round of interviews, to recount and review their work in the colonial territories, as a counter to the current trend of criticism and denigration of the colonial era.

On pensions issues, we have continued our efforts to obtain some relief for the Zimbabwe Public Service pensioners, but I have to acknowledge that we have had no success. We were able to meet the new FCO Minister for Africa.

Mr Tobias Ellwood, in November, to repeat our proposal that HMG should offer an ex-gratia payment to the pensioners to relieve financial hardship. The Minister asked for further information, which we provided, but the outcome was another negative response from him in January 2017. The Zimbabwe government continues to declare its commitment to honour the pension payments, but only when (or if?) the country's financial position improves. At the same time the Pensions Office in Harare has insisted on strict procedures which have made it extremely difficult for those pensioners in South Africa who were receiving pension payments halfyearly to meet the requirements. It appears that less than one in 10 of the eligible pensioners there will receive the next payment, which is already overdue.

We are also much concerned over the financial viability of the Central African Pension Fund. This is managed by the Crown Agents, who are also the Trustee of the Fund. Our requests for information and for copies of the reports about the Fund have not been answered adequately. We are continuing to follow this up.

The campaign by the International Consortium of British Pensioners to change the British Government's policy on freezing State Retirement Pensions for people living in the main countries overseas has focussed on the possible implications of the forthcoming Brexit negotiations. There is growing cross-party support in Parliament for the aim of uprating "frozen" pensions and hopes of eventual success.

The financial position in 2016 as shown in the annual accounts underlines the need to bring OSPA to a close later this year. The operational deficit is not sustainable and the cost of the Farewell Event will use up our assets, even with the help of sponsorship donations for which we are extremely grateful. But we aim to continue our usual services, and to publish one final journal, before closure.

I would like to emphasize that the Benevolent Society is continuing to function fully in its new form, overseen by OSPA member trustees and administered by the Accountants Lindeyer Francis Ferguson. I hope that members will continue to give financial support to the Society, and perhaps some may be willing after this year to switch their OSPA subscription payments to become donations to the Society.

My thanks again to all Council members for their contributions to the Association's business, and particularly in relation to the plans for closure. Also to the staff at Tonbridge without whom we could do nothing. Meanwhile together with the Council and the staff I am looking forward to meeting many members at our Farewell Event which promises to be an occasion to remember."

He was the author of The Last Days of Empire and the Worlds of Business and Diplomacy: An Inside Account


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