Apprentice Wheel

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The Website History

January 1997

Dennis Davey (60th Entry), who at that time was serving as the Association Membership Secretary, was tasked by the Committee to liaise with George Burville (90th Entry) to set up a page on his Website for the RAFCAA.

Mid 1997

First page opened on George's site at www.gedb.domain.co.uk. Subsequently changed to www.appbe.com which referred to all RAF Apprentices and Boy Entrants. (These sites are no longer active).

August 1999

16 months before George died, Cliff Blake (55th Entry) took over from him with an expanded site on www.klif.demon.co.uk/rafcaa.

Mid 2002

Due to health and accommodation problems, Cliff Blake gave warning that he might not be able to continue providing the RAFCAA Website. To avoid the situation whereby the Association Website depended on one private individual, and might therefore be suddenly terminated, the Committee asked Dennis Davey, to consider the matter. His recommendation to acquire a specific domain name for the Association and set up a Web Hosting Contract was accepted by the Committee.

Early 2003

There was some delay due to Dennis's other duties and illness, but a contract was taken out and the Domain www.rafcaa.org.uk was registered for the sole use of the Association by August 2002.

14 November 2003

The Website was transferred to the new Domain with Cliff Blake continuing as working Webmaster, liasing with Dennis as the nominated Web Officer.

25 February 2004

Having handed over his duties as Membership Secretary, Dennis Davey was formally appointed by the Committee as Web Officer and Deputy Webmaster.

22 October 2006

Having served as Webmaster for the CAA for some 7 years, Cliff Blake decided that it was now time to step back and in conjunction with Dennis planned to hand over Webmaster responsibilities to Dennis early in November 2006. On changeover a completely new version of the site, having a different "look and feel", but containing much of the same information that had been created by Cliff was to be uploaded. Unfortunately Cliff encountered major problems with his PC during October necessitating the change of the motherboard, and so the transfer of Webmaster responsibilities was brought forward to 22nd October.

At changeover the site had received 15,833 hits.

28 October 2008

For a further two years, Dennis continued to build up the site, but following a relatively short illness, he died. The Committee searched for a replacement with the knowledge and experience of website design and maintenance. This was not an easy task but an ideal candidate by the name of Peter Cornelius of the 69th Entry was found in New Zealand and he was persuaded to ‘volunteer’.

25 February 2009

Peter assumed the responsibilities of Webmaster and set about making the website as user friendly as possible. With his self-taught knowledge of programming in HTML, he was able to considerably reduce the size of many files that were originated by a Web Editor program. Reorganising the Home page permitted very fast downloading and easier site navigation. With the assistance of graphics expert John Smailes (50th Entry) who lives in Canada, Peter also incorporated a new "Return Home" button as each page was updated. Formatting of information within the tables of the Entry pages was changed to make the information more pleasing to the eye of a viewer, and hopefully to encourage Association members to make more use of the website.

In total, Peter updated, revised or modified over 160 pages and added many new photographs. He also added an article about the Polish 49th Entry and the hardships which they had endured before arriving at, what was by comparison, the holiday camp of Cranwell.

Following complaints from a few wives! of members, and apparently supported by the Association Committee, regarding Peter's revision of the website Peter reluctantly withdrew his nomination, prior to official confirmation of his appointment as Webmaster at the 2009 AGM.

19 September 2009

At the AGM, Jim Willacy of the 69th Entry was elected to the combined post of Membership Secretary and Webmaster.

1st January 2014

Jim Willacy died in 2011 and with no one stepping forward as a replacement Webmaster website updates were minimal after that.
The Committee announced in September 2012 that the Association was to be be discontinued at the end of 2013, with the contract with the ISP hosting the website to terminate at the end of March 2014. (The Committee later changed this to terminate at the end of 2013.) Previous New Zealand based Webmaster Peter Cornelius (69th Entry, 1951-54) felt that since the Association Committee had made no effort for the RAF Cranwell Apprentice's records to be available from some other source it would be 'criminal' for them to be lost and not available for future generations and historians, especially since for 30+ years members had added so much to the accuracy of the data, plus photographs and memoirs of Cranwell days. Thus from September 2012 Peter started to save the information freely available on the internet and reconstituted the data for a future website. By updating with known 'departures' Peter's data became more up-to-date than the official Association website, and Peter again 'reworked' the data in order to reduce file sizes and make the data more relevent and user-friendly, when re-released as a website.
At the final AGM of the RAF Cranwell Apprentice Association on Saturday, 21st September, 2013 a proposal was put forward for the preservation of the website data. Despite some members of the Committee wishing for the destruction of the records the vote for retention of the data was 74 For (80%), 12 Against (13%), with 7 Abstentions (7%).
Thus Peter's previous saving and updating of the data herein was well justified.




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