The HMS Illustrious Association was formerly known as the "Old Illustrians’ Association" and was formed by a group of wartime Old Boys who were invited on board the 5th ILLUSTRIOUS on 9 September 1983.
The Association’s first meeting was held in T.S. De Trafford, Stretford, on 3 December 1983.
The Association’s name was changed to the "HMS ILLUSTRIOUS ASSOCIATION" at the 1996 Annual General Meeting (AGM) in an attempt to encourage membership from the 5th Illustrious. The Association has been running successfully for over 20 years, but in order for the Association to continue to flourish, is was becoming ever more apparent that the Association needed to have more members from the latest ship, Illustrious 5.
In April 2015 a Reunion and medal presentation was held at the Guildhall and this was organised by a team that served in HMS Illustrious during her First Commission 1982 under Captain Jock Slater. This event was total success but was independent of the Association, a 'one off' so to speak, but the Committee were kind enough to have been invited to this event as the team from the first commission were keen to see that the Association should also benefit from the success of this event.
The HMS Illustrious Association approached the organisers of the event and invited them to serve in various roles on the committee in order to assist in increasing our numbers further, and we are pleased that say that the invitation was accepted and as a result of this, we have been undergoing a major transformation in the way the Association is organised.
In early 2016, and with the new commitment and enthusiasm of the new players, it was quickly identified that the Association needed to modernise and bring us into the 21st Century, and as a result of this the Association launched a new more interactive website in February 2016 which enabled new and existing members to join/renew 'online' and in doing so, the Association has attracted over 400 new members. We have also been very active on Social Media namely 'Facebook' and 'Twitter' which has been an invaluable source of not only attracting new members but exposing the Association to 'The World'. In October 2016, the website was again upgraded, in order to make it more user friendly and the introduction of being able to pay by credit/debit cards online is about to be introduced and in addition to the new items will be continually added.
The Association was until recently, split into: Northern Branch, Southern Branch and National, but this has been changed as it was decided that we were too fragmented and we should operate under one umbrella. The Association will now hold a Reunion in the 'North' and then the 'South' in alternate years. In 2016 the Reunion was held at the Atlantic Hotel in Liverpool and in 2017, it will be held in a very exciting fun filled venue in Portsmouth. There are other events that are held throughout the year and these will be published to the website as and when they arise.
Now that HMS Illustrious has sadly left our shores for the last time, it is even more reason why we we should keep her spirit alive and we would invite those that served in Illustrious or their families to consider joining us as not only will you have the opportunity to meet up with old shipmates that you had the privilege of serving with, but you will also have the privilege of meeting up with those that you did not, and all with one thing in common - HMS Illustrious.
VOX NON INCERTA
From: Vice Admiral R G Cooling CB., FCMI.
Dear ILLUSTRIOUS Shipmates and Family Members,
I am delighted that you have found your way to the newly launched Association website and I hope very much that you approve of what you see and take advantage of the online method of joining the Association, you will be most warmly welcomed! Now that our magnificent Ship has been decommissioned and is no longer with us, the Association offers a great way to stay in touch with old shipmates and provides a unique opportunity to relive that sense of camaraderie and being a member of a great team that we all experienced during our time on board. I am happy to admit that I miss my time on Lusty enormously and I can honestly say that I enjoyed the happiest moments of my career at that time. If you share similar feelings then joining the Association would be a great move.
You will know that Admiral Sir Jock Slater was the Ship’s first Captain. He very succinctly summarised our history in the Foreword to our recently published book ‘HMS ILLUSTRIOUS 1982 – 2014’ with these words:
‘ILLUSTRIOUS has had many affiliations since 1982 but none more so than the ILLUSTRIOUS Association which was formed that year with its flourishing National, Northern and Southern Branches. From that moment, the members took the ship to their hearts, enjoying many visits at sea and ashore, countless reunions and particularly the Annual Memorial Service in the City. Inevitably, the number of those who served in the fourth ILLUSTRIOUS is dwindling but happily the new generation is beginning to join and I very much hope that many others will consider membership and the opportunity it gives to look back on the part they have played in the ship’s distinguished history.’
Let me add that alongside our former shipmates we are very keen to welcome associate/family members to the Association, so if you have a family or other direct connection with the Ship then we would really like to hear from you too (for example, I think it would be great to have an application from someone who helped to build the Ship on the Tyne).
Finally it has been my privilege to be President of the Association for the last 9 years, and with my wife Helen, we very rarely miss an opportunity to spend time with our great friends at Association events. I think you would find membership an equally rewarding and uplifting experience.