My day: My day starts at about 7.45am when I arrive at the office, the other members of staff are either already there or come in just after me and we are all ready to start at 8am. A quick chat about the previous day’s business and a brief run through the events of the day (as well as a bit of social chit chat) and we get to our desks to work on the paper mountain before 9am when the telephone starts to ring!
I am the liaison officer between the regiment and the community at every level which means that one minute I could be talking to someone who has knitted a woolly hat and wants it to be sent to a member of regiment in Afghanistan and the next call could be with a Lord Lieutenant about a major ceremonial event. Another part of my job is as secretary of the Cheshire Regiment Association, looking after the affairs of the Association, organising reunions and commemorations and reacting to any welfare problems which individual members may have. We have about 2,000 names on our membership database and I estimate that there must be at least another 5,000 with whom we have no regular contact. The members of the association include a handful of veterans of World War 2 (and a couple who served in the regiment in India before the war) Suez veterans, Malaya Veterans, numerous Northern Ireland veterans and some who have recently seen service in Iraq. With this wide age-range and variety of active service experience, I am never short of advice on how I should be carrying out my duties!
I am also the curator of The Cheshire Military Museum, responsible for the collection which includes many artefacts of the four regiments connected with Cheshire (The 3rd Carabiniers, The 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, The 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment and the Cheshire Yeomanry) and also the Regimental Archive of The 22nd (Cheshire) Regiment.
For the last four years, we have been working on the digitisation of our documents to make them more accessible to the public and for academic research. We are working against the clock transcribing all of our war diaries and personal recollections of The Great War so that they can be available in time for the centenary commemorations. Probably the busiest volunteer is our honorary researcher, Geoff Crump, who for the past 30 years or so has helped thousands of people find out about a relative’s service in the Cheshire Regiment – I think Geoff knows more about the Regiment’s history than anyone who ever served in the 22nd.
With all of these different hats to wear, it is unsurprising that most of my days have no real structure to them and much of my working routine is decided by whatever the latest telephone call or email brings.
Dress: I retired from uniformed service with the Army a few years ago, but some visitors are a little surprised to see me wearing civilian clothes, but I do wear a regimental tie every day, which I suppose is a form of uniform.
What is the favourite part of your job? I do enjoy helping with the family history research requests, obviously I don’t have time for in-depth answers, but some smaller queries I can do – I once was able to tell a man who lived locally that his uncle was buried in a War Grave in Overleigh Cemetery, right here in Chester, something which neither he nor anyone else in his family knew.
What is the least favourite part of your job? Bureaucracy! I had better say no more about that.
What would be your dream job if you weren't doing what you do now? I have already done that! For the first 26 years of my 44 years Army service, I was a musician. The height of my musical service was my eight years as regimental bandmaster of The Cheshire Regiment.
How do you relax when you are not working? Music. I conduct Ellesmere Port Concert Brass, am musical director of Merseyside Police Band and I play the euphonium in Chester Wind Band. I am also a member of the local fundraising committee of the ABF, The Soldier’s Charity.
What is your favourite film? The one I enjoyed last. I don’t go to the cinema very much.
What is your favourite book? Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks.
What is your favourite song? There are too many to choose from.
If a film was made of your life, who would you like to play you? Peter Bowles (without the moustache, of course).
Have you had your 15 minutes of fame? Frequently when I was an Army musician.
Name: Major (Ret’d) Eddie Pickering MBE ARCM
Job: Assistant Regimental Secretary and Curator
Education: Studied Military Bandmastership at Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall.
Family life: Married for 42 years to Martine. Have a son and a granddaughter, Sophie.
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