RE Officers Widows Society
"A Society run by Officers of the Corps since 1785 to provide, through subscriptions, for the spouses and dependent children of deceased Sapper Officers".
The Royal Engineers Officers' Widows Society
c/o The Regimental Headquarters Royal Engineers
Kent ME4 4UG
The Society was formed in 1785 by all 68 Officers of the Corps serving at that time. Over the years since then the Society has used the income generated by the subscriptions of Officer members to provide financial help for their families when they have died in combat or from other causes.
Today, the Society has some 900 members and there are nearly 115 widows and children in receipt of benefits. The Society's Annuity fund has assets of around £3.5 million and the charitable Samaritan Fund has a further £460 000.
The Society is managed by a Council elected by members consisting of serving and retired Royal Engineer Officers who receive no remuneration.
Membership of the Society is open to all male and female Royal Engineer Officers of both the Regular Army and the Army Reserve. Members subscribe to the Annuity fund during their service and continue to subscribe when they retire, normally up until age 60. Membership then continues until death. Where both spouses are officers in the Corps, both may be members of the Society.
Officers may join the Society at any time whilst serving, up to the age of 55.
New members may subscribe for a minimum of 2 and up to a maximum of 10 units of benefit. Subscriptions may be increased up to the maximum of 10 units at any time, subject to meeting the medical requirements.
Subscriptions cease at age 60, except for those units acquired after age 50 which must be subscribed for 10 years.
The subscription rates per unit depend on an Officer's age on taking up the units and on the rates applicable at the time. The Society reviews the subscription rates every three years based on actuarial advice. However, the rates for existing subscribers for those units they already hold are those in the table applicable at the time they took out the units.
Single members pay half the appropriate subscription rate and reductions are made for both married and single officers joining within one year of commissioning.
Each unit provides the following benefits:
An immediate lump sum cash payment to the widow or widower.
A yearly annuity for the lifetime of the widow or widower.
A yearly annuity for each child up to the age of 21.
The immediate cash payment will be divided equally between children under the age of 21, should a spouse die before or at the same time as a member.
Benefits are reviewed every three years, subject to actuarial advice. All beneficiaries receive the improved benefits regardless of the level of subscriptions paid by the deceased member. This helps to maintain the value of the benefits paid, especially when an annuity is paid to a spouse for very many years.
The current benefits are:
Immediate Lump Sum.
£4,000 per unit of subscription payable to the spouse immediately on notification of the death of the member.
On the death of a widowed member, eligible children under 21 receive £4,000 per unit of subscription, divided equally between them.
A half lump sum benefit of £2,000 per unit of membership payable to the estate of an unmarried deceased member.
£450 per annum per unit of subscription for the deceased members spouse and each eligible child under 21.
The lump sum cash payment is made as soon as the society is aware of a member's death and is extremely useful for covering the financial needs of the family in the first weeks after the death.
The Society will provide relief after retirement from the Army as long as the subscriptions are made or paid up fully. Many other schemes only apply whilst you are serving, unlike the Society. Life Assurance schemes end at a set age, unlike the Society.
Whether you are still serving or not, however old you are, the Society will make payments to a spouse, or children under 21 if no surviving spouse, for paid up members.
There is a reduction in the subscription rate for those joining within one year of commissioning.
Any member joining on his / her Troop Commanders Course, and taking out less than 5 units of membership, will receive a further 10% reduction on subscription up to age 60.
The experience of the Council of Management is such that it can put its beneficiaries in touch with other charitable organisations and foundations which exist, but about which widows and widowers may know little or nothing. All of this help is offered discreetly and free of charge.
The Future of the Society within the Sapper Family
The prudence and generosity of Sapper officers over the years has ensured that the Society exists today and is in a position to care for the spouses and children of their brother and sister officers. Most have continued their subscriptions after their families have grown up or their spouses have died and, in some cases, despite remaining single throughout.
There have been instances in recent conflicts, and in peace, where officers who were not members have died and their families are sadly not benefiting from the Society Annuity Fund as they might have done.
For further information please contact the secretary:
Brigadier AA Wilson OBE
Telephone: +44(0)1379 740561