The Association des Vétérans des Essais Nucléaires held their Annual General Meeting in Montauban in the Tarn-et-Garonne Department of the Occitanie Region of France between the 13th and 14th of October 2018. 

Read about last years AVEN meeting in La Rochelle

AVEN had issued invites to members of all nuclear community organisations in the UK along with the United States NAAV. The NCCF was represented by Jeff Liddiatt and Don James. Nigel Heaps MBE represented the OBSIVEN movement, Steve Bexon attended on behalf of Exposure Magazine.

Starting with a remembrance ceremony at the main war memorial in Montauban, Don James joined the French Standard Bearers in a parade to the memorial. AVEN guests and local dignitaries stood for the service culminating in the singing of ‘La Marseillaise’. Jeff laid a wreath on behalf of the NCCF and Nigel laid one on behalf of OBSIVEN.

Nigel Heaps, Don James, Jeff Liddiatt
Nigel Heaps MBE, Don James and Jeff Liddiatt representing Obsiven UK and the NCCF
Montauban Memorial
Front row left to right: Jean-Jacques Gourde, Jean-Louis Camuzat, Patrick Subreville, Jeff Liddiatt, Annette Liddiatt.  Back Row: Jean-François Grenot, Jean-Luc Sans, Keith Kiefer, René Rey and Nigel Heaps MBE
Parade of Standards
Don James Standard Bearer
Standard Bearer Don James

After lunch, the well-attended meeting was treated to an interesting series of presentations:

Jean-Jacques Gourde, Regional President AVEN opened the meeting welcoming all from the different Departments, Official dignitaries and representatives from overseas.

Mr Le Cloâtre, a member of l’Union Nationale des Combattants, representing General Pierre Saint Macary, National President, spoke of the importance of relations between AVEN and the UNC.

Senator. Hélène LUC has given AVEN steadfast support since the beginning and she spoke of recent events and hopes for the future.

Cécile Labrunie on behalf of Teissonnière-Topaloff-Lafforgue-Andreu & Associates spoke of the 15-year legal battle they had fought representing AVEN, she gave a detailed update on the progress of compensation cases.

Professor Abraham Behar, member of the French Nuclear Test Victims Compensation Committee (CIVEN) gave an interesting insight into how best represent a claim for compensation and explained the workload and financing issues faced by the organisation.

Keith Kiefer, President of the National Association of Atomic Veterans, Inc. (NAAV) in the United States reported on the absence of any representation from the BNTVA and then went on to talk of the experiences of the American veterans in gaining recognition and compensation for their service at nuclear test sites. A formal invitation to AVEN to attend the next NAAV General Assembly in September 2019 was given.

Jeff Liddiatt Chairman Nuclear Community Charity Fund explained how the NCCF had been formed by the old BNTVA to deliver the projects bid from government funding. Recounting the research projects and the establishment of the CHRC he also detailed the operation of the Care Wellbeing and Inclusion Fund giving a number of examples of how the fund had helped veterans and their offspring by ‘Making that Difference’.

Dr Kouyoumdjian and Nigel Heaps MBE spoke about medical monitoring and the different research projects that will make results available through the OBSVEN organisation. 

The Aven Conference

The meeting then went on to cover the AVEN administrative activities, Accounts, Audit and Elections.

Jean-Luc Sans spoke if his time as AVEN President and the changes he had seen. He then introduced Patrick Subreville the incoming President. Patrick extended the hand of continued friendship with all organisations working to the benefit of nuclear veterans and their offspring.

The message of unity was continued after the evening meal when a screening of a film made showing British and American veterans discussing their experiences was screened. Many of the attendees remarked on the similarity of experience they all shared.

The event was not all meetings, there were opportunities for socialising and sharing experiences, building stronger international relationships between the different nations at the event.

Jean Luc will continue to assist Partick as he gets his ‘feet under the table’ and is also putting his considerable energies to the OBSIVEN cause, we look forward to having close cooperation in the future.