About the Friends of the Intelligence Corps Museum
The FICM independent charitable trust was formed on 17 November 2011 to encourage regular support for the Intelligence Corps Museum at Chicksands, Bedfordshire in England.
A Short History of the Museum, 1966–2020
In 1966, a museum for the Intelligence Corps was established at Templer Barracks, Ashford; it was essentially a private museum, dependent on the goodwill of the corps secretary for its funding and staffing. Four years later on Corps Day 1970, the Intelligence Corps Museum was officially opened by Field Marshal Templer. By 1979, it had been registered as a charity with its own trust deed and had become an official army museum in 1998. It remained so until 2015 when it was legally placed under the umbrella of the Military Intelligence Museum (MIM), along with the Brixmis Collection, the Y-Service Collection, the Medmenham Collection and the American Room FANYs?. MIM had been used as a trading name since 2005 in order to secure settled premises under its landlord, who is currently the Joint Intelligence Training Group. As a matter of interest, although legally existing, the museum had never been physically signed ‘Intelligence Corps Museum’. In 2015, the MIM trustees, looking for premises independent of JITG, accepted an offer from the Duke of Bedford to establish a museum at Milton Bryan, Bedfordshire, and the development of that idea continues.
The Friends, 2001–2008
Thirty-five years after the museum was established, the inaugural meeting of the then-called Society of the Friends of the Intelligence Corps Museum took place, in 2001. Comprising 44 attendees, two of the meeting aims were to ‘relaunch the Intelligence Corps Museum’ and ‘prevent its identity being watered down’; another was to create a friends organisation to support a museum that had become, according to Corps Secretary and Curator, John Woolmore, ‘suffering from lack of focus, expertise and effort’. Although many plans were proposed at the meeting, funding gradually dried up and seven years later the museum trustees, who had been managing them, asked the Friends to stand down, as the charity was moribund.
The Friends, 2011–2020
Objectives and purpose
In 2011, at the instigation of museum trustees Brian Parritt and John Condon (Chair), in order to revive its fortunes, a new, independent, HMRC-registered charity, the Friends of the Intelligence Corps Museum (FICM) was formed by John Quenby and Paul Croxson. Two objectives were originally decided: firstly, ‘To raise funds for the benefit of the Intelligence Corps Museum’ and secondly, ‘To promote interest in and awareness of the museum’s development’. In 2020, a third objective to confirm what the charity was already doing was added: ‘To support the heritage of the Intelligence Corps’.
In 2015, trustees met for a day to clarify the raison d’être of FICM. The outcome was this statement of purpose: ‘To identify and exploit opportunities to support the financial and operational needs of the museum and its staff in a way that assures our members that funds are usefully utilised, and that encourages ongoing donations and member involvement, so that the museum attains its objective of recording and displaying the history and achievements of the Intelligence Corps’ contribution to intelligence work and the security of the nation’. Thus, the work of the Friends provides value to the museum that, in turn, provides value to the wider world. This purpose links firmly with the Strong Corps Family line of development of the Intelligence Corps, in particular for the museum and archive.
Donations to the museum
Since 2013, the regenerated Friends have donated over £40,000 to the museum and archive, mainly for infrastructure needs such as computer hardware and systems.
Providing for members
In 2012, FICM’s website was established and is currently undergoing planning for an overhaul with a major aim to improve membership recruitment. In the same year, Sub Rosa, the thrice-yearly eight-page newsletter was published and whose 27th issue will be out in December 2020. The newsletter, which won an award from the British Association of Friends of Museums, is part of the membership package that FICM’s 200 members receive. FICM has staged a yearly Lunch with Lecture in London, and Pimm’s on the Terrace at Chicksands Priory. For these popular events, notable speakers have included Chris Donnelly, Director of the Institute for Statecraft, Lt Gen (retd) Sir John Kiszely former Director General of the Defence Academy, and the Rt Hon Ann Widdecombe. Recently, FICM has gone further online into social media, with pages for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Working with related bodies
Jointly with HQ Int Corps, in 2016 FICM set up the Alan Edwards Award using a generous gift of £5,000 from his widow, Mrs Liz Edwards. In another initiative, FICM has agreed a note of intent [not yet ratified by ICA and FICM boards] with the Intelligence Corps Association, formalising the two organisations’ intention to work more closely in supporting the history and heritage of the Intelligence Corps. These initiatives, and other work carried out by the Friends, show the development from solely museum-centred activity added to that of raising awareness of Corps history through its newsletter, social media and otherwise supporting its heritage. The influence of FICM within ICA and the Corps is high, the Corps Colonel in 2020 describing the Friends as ‘guardians of Corps heritage’.
Since 2014, with the objective of improving clarity about each other’s activities, the MIM trustees and the Friends exchange observers who sit on each other’s full board meetings. This has produced greater understanding and co-operation between the boards, especially about the changes planned for the development of the museum.
Under a patron and hon president, the FICM managing group consists of 10 trustees of whom seven work as chair, secretary, treasurer, membership secretary, media, events co-ordinator and editor. Of the grand total of 12, nine are former members of the Intelligence Corps. It is practice for trustees not to claim expenses for travelling to FICM related meetings.
Anonymous (2001), ‘Minutes of the inaugural meeting of the Society of Friends of the Intelligence Corps Museum’.
Baker, Jonathan (2005), ‘Official Opening of the Military Intelligence Museum, Chicksands’, Friends of the Intelligence Corps Museum Newsletter, August.
Condon, John (2020), ‘Intelligence Corps Museum/Military Intelligence Museum Timeline’.
Parritt, Brian (2006), ‘The Intelligence Corps Museum and the Military Intelligence Museum’, Friends of the Intelligence Corps Museum Newsletter, Spring.
— (2020), ‘Development of the Intelligence Corps 1958–2018’, (Chicksands: Intelligence Corps Archive).
Various (2016), Intelligence Corps: Vision and Plan 2016-2021, ed. Intelligence Corps.
Yates, Chris (2020), ‘Interview with the Corps Colonel’, Sub Rosa: the Newsletter of the Friends of the Intelligence Corps Museum (26).
Website of the Military Intelligence Museum – www.militaryintelligencemuseum.org/
Website of the Friends of the Intelligence Corps Museum – www.intelligencemuseum.org/
FICM was formed to support the Intelligence Corps Museum collection, currently housed in the Military Intelligence Museum (MIM), and the highly important Corps Archive, both located in Chicksands military base but in separate buildings. The MIM trustees are currently considering the possible creation of a broader-based Museum of Military Intelligence at a location away from Chicksands. The MIM and the FICM trustees work closely to ensure continuity for the Corps’ collection and archive.