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Martial Arts Grades
"I have grades in different styles with different Martial Arts Groups and I think it is important to separate them in order that I do not appear to be anything that I am not, or that I hold a higher grade in a specific style than I actually do. As such my grades & styles are listed below in accordance with the CMAA time served chart for Dan Gradings (view). With regards to my own styles the highest attainable grade in them all is capped at 8th Dan and no higher.
Freestyle Martial Arts: 8th Dan Black Belt Cobra FMA, 7th Dan Black Belt Freestyle Karate/Kickboxing
Traditional Martial Arts: 5th Dan Black Belt Ju-Jitsu, 2nd Dan Black Belt Shukokai Karate
Other Martial Arts Experience: 3 years training in Muay Thai (Ungraded)
1. Chartered Management Institute Level 6 Award in Management and Leadership
2. Greater Manchester Sports Partnership Accredited
3. Member of the Sports and Recreation Alliance Education Expert Reference Group
4. Class A Semi & Full Contact Referee - World Karate & Kickbxing Association (WKA).
5. England Team Manager (All Disciplines) for the WKA 2004, 2005, 2006 & 2007
6. Former Members Director for The Martial Arts Standards Agency (MASA)
7. Approved First Aid Trainer / Assessor (www.cobrafirstaid.co.uk)
8. HSE Certified Risk Assessment Safety Auditor
9. Quality Management Systems Certified Auditor (BS EN ISO 9000)
10. Authorised Lead Signatory for The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)
Andrew Morrell was born in 1968. His Martial Arts Career started during his teens in traditional
Shukokai Karate. (Shukokai Karate Union). He actually graded up to 2nd Dan and passed his Instructor exam with the EKGB. (English Karate Governing Body as it was back then).
During his time in Karate he competed in both local and national tournaments and earned himself a
place on his clubs Kumite and Demonstration Teams. Also, just after his 1st Dan, he began training in
Muay Thai Kickboxing with the British Thai Boxing Council.
Over the next few years his style began to change and evolve so he left the SKU and joined a
freestyle Organisation, the BFKKO. Here he was more at home as he could be himself however he had to be assessed in both Karate and Kickboxing before his grades were accepted. He then trialed for and was placed on the Organisations England Squad.
He later graded to 3rd Dan in Freestyle Karate/Kickboxing and was promoted to Senior Executive Instructor.
It was at this time that he joined the BJJA (British Ju-Jitsu Association) and began to officially train in Ju-Jitsu. He had only until this time had samples of the style taught to him by past Instructors. Again he began to compete, but this time in "Knock Down Budo". Andrew was very much at home with this style of fighting and indeed did win most of his fights due to his mixed skills. The club he was with later left the BJJA and became the SJJA. Here he graded to 1st Dan.
Again, due to the addition of Ju-Jitsu, his style began to change and Andrew now wrote his own training and grading syllabus combining all 3 styles together - Cobra FMA. The syllabus runs from beginner up to 8th Dan (the highest achievable grade in this or any of Andrew's styles) and has proven to be a great success within his own clubs.
At this point Andrew would like to thank all of the Instructors who have trained and guided him along the way, there are far too many to mention on this page, but you know who you are and thank you to you all.
In 2001 he was contacted by 'Fighters Magazine' who wanted to interview him. The interview covered 10 pages in the magazine with Andrew featuring on the front cover.
This later resulted in the formation of the CMAA as Instructors around the UK read the article and contacted Andrew due to his open minded approach and expressed an interest in joining him, some of who now teach from his syllabus'.
In 2002 everything changed when Andrew made a decision that would effect both his and thousands of other Martial Artists lives.
June 2002 & The CMAA
In June 2002 he decided to further his Martial Arts career by going his own way and forming the Cobra Martial Arts Association (CMAA) at the request of other Instructors who had contacted him after the 2001 magazine article expressing an interest in working with him. Andrew had no idea that over the coming months/years it would grow into a very large National Body.
On the 20th of June 2002 Andrew had his Karate & Kickboxing 4th Dans ratified by the World Karate & Kickboxing Association (WKA).
On the 30th he had all his grades and experience recognised by the Self Defence Federation (SDF, Chief Instructor Dave Turton 8th Dan).
Later on, in August, Andrew became an authorised signatory with the Criminal Records Bureau. This allows him to personally vet any new Instructors under the child protection act. www.dbschecked.co.uk
In February 2003 he again appeared in Fighters magazine with Danny Robertson.
In May 2003 he submitted his own syllabus, Cobra FMA, to the International Sungja-Do Association for review. The ISA is a mixed martial arts World Body with clubs in 48 states in America and International affiliates and members in over 40 countries around the globe, including the UK.
To gain recognition as a new style, by the ISA, the style must be different to any other and must also be a combination of several of the Arts. Also the Founder must be able to prove he or she holds Black Belts in the styles combined.
After studying Andrew's syllabus in great detail George Petrotta, 8th Dan, recognised it as an ecliptic style in its own right within the ISA. He also appointed Andrew as an International Master Instructor and after consulting with other ISA Masters, worldwide, combined the years in the various Martial Arts he had studied to date and awarded Andrew the Founders grade of 6th Dan based on the fact that several clubs now teach it.
This was then backed up within the UK by ratification from Shihan George T Ross, 8th Dan, of the Wang Tang Martial Arts Federation and Dave Turton, also 8th Dan, of the Self Defence Federation - both who know Andrew and his skills having trained with him in the past.
To endorse the grade George Ross actually took Andrew through his own syllabus, Kagaku Michi Tekio Bujutsu which is George's own style of mixed arts, due to it having the same ideas and concepts of street combat as Andrew's containing techniques that he was more than able to complete.
In August 2003 he was interviewed, and again appeared in Fighters Magazine, about his involvement
with the CRB. As a direct result of this interview Mr Paul Ingram, the head of the World Kickboxing Association (WKA), appointed Andrew as the official WKA rep' for Child Protection and the CRB.
On the 19th of October 2003 Andrew joined the World Elite Black Belt Society (WEBBS) headed by Shihan Bryan Cheek, 8th Dan.
Since founding the CMAA Andrew has been contacted by various groups and been invited to join, most of which he declined after checking. As a result of this he did some historical research after noticing more and more "Soke" Boards/Master Councils appearing around the world.
His research led him to the International Society of Head Founders and Head Families (previously the World Headfounders Council). Unlike many other "Founders Councils" the ISHH only sponsors New Western Styles who's Founder has a proven and traceable background. Andrew sent an email and was contacted by their Board of Directors. They answered Andrews questions and actually invited him to apply for membership. Most who apply to the ISHH are rejected as they often cannot prove background, grades etc. At the time the ISHH was very stringent about it's membership requirements.
The ISHH B-O-D studied Andrews profile and decided to grant him membership, and recognise him as the Founder of Cobra FMA with the style being registered as a new Western Martial Art. Further more they appointed him as U.K. Director. He held this position for 2 years but later in 2005, as the CMAA grew and he got more involved with the SDF and WKA, he stood down as he could not give it the commitment that it warranted.
At this point it should be noted that Andrew is listed on many websites around the world, too many to mention on this page and some he does not even know about! He also holds many titles, but uses just one - his name "Andrew".
On the 2nd of May 2004 Andrew attended (as a student) the Dragon Society International Torite Jutsu seminar in Burnley, Manchester. Here he met Grandmaster Tom Muncy, from the USA. During the course Andrew & GM Muncy talked and exchanged ideas, realising that they both had the same views with regards to the Martial Arts in general.
Following on from the meeting GM Muncy expressed a desire for the DSI and the CMAA to affiliate to each other in order to further share ideas and support each other. Andrew was both honoured and very happy for this to happen as it would strengthen both groups as DSI Students in the UK would then have a "home" Association to join should they wish to.
On the 11th of August 2004 Dave Turton, head of the Self Defence Federation, appointed Andrew as an SDF Tutor / Assessor and awarded him life time membership of the SDF. This meant that Andrew was added to the SDF's team who ran courses where people with experience in any field of Self Defence or restraint, such as Martial Artists, Door Staff, Security Guards etc can gain an SDF Registered Diploma allowing them to the go on to teach Self Defence classes with the full backing of the SDF and Dave Turton.
On 8th September 2004 Andrew was appointed as the new World Kickboxing & Karate Associations Semi Contact England Team Manager (All Disciplines). A role he held during 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007.
Andrew took over the role from Keith Lomas who has now retired from the position after many years. Along with this appointment came the promotion and increase of Andrew's Freestyle Karate/Kickboxing grade to 5th Dan/Degree.
Also during this month he again attended and taught on a Seminar in aid of Teenage Cancer Research.
In December 2004 Andrew was graded again in Ju-Jitsu by Dennis Butler, 7th Dan. This grading increased his Ju-Jitsu rank from 1st to 2nd. The grade was also sponsored by Ray Bell 5th Dan, John Greenhalgh 7th Dan and Mark Wood 5th Dan all themselves highly skilled a respected Ju-Jitsu Instructors.
During his years studying the Martial Arts Andrew has trained with, as you have read, many Groups and Instructors. What confused him the most was the difference in Instructor Training that was offered by each one. In 2002 he began to develop a standard training programme to specifically target the areas of training required to produce safe and efficient Instructors irrespective of Style. The programme was used and developed over 2 years, constantly changing and evolving. He, along with other Senior CMAA Instructors and Members, studied the NVQ / VRQs in depth and using a similar "format" finalised it in late 2004 into Martial Arts Instructor UK.
While studying the NVQ Andrew wrote an article as a comparison study, it also helped to clear up the much spread confusion relating to the myth of the "Martial Arts NVQ" along with other 'need to be' rumours. Martial Arts Instructor UK is now used through out the CMAA, and by some external Groups as well, to train students who wish to become Instructors and is proving to be very successful. www.martialartsinstructor.co.uk
In February 2005 he was invited to attend his Local Sports Council Awards Evening as he had been nominated for a Special Recognition in Sport Award for the hard work and dedication he had put into the CMAA and also in bringing the Martial Arts together.
In May 2005, in order to increase the quality and level of training provided by the Martial Arts Instructor UK Training Programme, he decided it was time to re-qualify himself as a HSE Accredited First Aid Trainer / Verifier. Andrew had spent 18 years of his life (from the age of 10 to 28) as a member of St John Ambulance with 8 of them as an Instructor. During his time as a St John Instructor he did in fact run several accredited First Aid Courses for Martial Arts Groups including the EKGB and the BJJA.
The re-qualification went ahead and The CMAA also became an Approved First Aid Training Provider with all courses being fully HSE accredited In August 2005 Kevin Pell, 8th Dan, Chief Instructor of Ishin Ryu Ju-Jitsu contacted Andrew and offered him life membership expressing a wish for both groups to also Affiliate to each other and work closer to together. Both men had known each other for a while up to this point and had in fact built up a mutual respect having worked together on a few issues. The affiliation went ahead which in turn increased the size of both groups within the U.K.
Also in August Bryan Cheek, 8th Dan, of The World Elite Black Belt Society (WEBBS) asked Andrew to write a foreword for his new book. Andrew was very humbled by this request but was of course more than happy to do so.
Since the launch of Martial Arts Instructor UK many other Groups have shown an interest in using the programme to train their future Instructors. In September Andrew heard about that Martial Arts Standards Agency. This was a new Body set up by a group of high-ranking Senior Instructors from varying disciplines and Martial Arts Bodies.
Their aim was to set a standard requirement before a person could be accredited as an Instructor by them as there are far too many people, some below Dan grade, teaching classes when they have little or no training in teaching techniques, First Aid, Child Protection etc. Our programme was submitted and accepted at once resulting in full accreditation for all Level 1 Instructors. This accreditation took the Martial Arts Instructor UK Programme to an even larger National Level.
In November 2005 he travelled to Canada as England Team Manager to the 200+ WKA Team. They had great success over the 4 days competing and came back home with 37 Gold, 26 Silver and 33 Bronze Medals.
Later the same month Andrew was graded in Self Defence / Self Protection by Dave Turton of the Self Defence Federation. Although Cobra FMA contains a lot of Self Defence, Dave felt it was time for Andrew to be graded by him as he had been involved with The SDF for some time and was after all the North West Senior Assessor and had to date already taught 4 Self Defence Instructors Courses on their behalf.
Andrew's knowledge of Self Defence along with his physical skills were tested and he received 4th Dan Self Defence / Self Protection.
December 2005 saw the launch of the CMAA's very own unique Children's Programme "Cobra Kids". Andrew had spent several months working on this project to ensure that it was different to the others already in
operation. "Cobra Kids" not only offers Children a way of learning the Martial Arts, it also educates them with valuable life skills and contributes towards their Long Term Athletic Player Development (LTAPD).
On 21st February 2006 he was elected on to the Board of Directors of The Martial Arts Standards Agency as Members Director. This new appointment meant that he, along with other MASA Directors, assisted Clubs and Groups to gain MASA Accreditation helping to ensure safety within the Martial Arts.
May 2006 saw the introduction of the Cobra Quality Club Award. Andrew spent many years as a Production Manager and during that time he received qualifications as both a Health and Safety Risk Auditor and Quality Systems Auditor. Using these skills he had worked on and developed the Cobra Quality Club Award for over 6 months and introduced it as an option for CMAA members to work towards. The Cobra Quality Club
Award helps to demonstrate high standards in the running of the respective Club(s).
Also this month he was entered into the Sekai Ishin Ryu Ju-Jitsu Guild of Renmei Yudansha (Black Belt Guild).
August 2006 saw Andrew writing the CMAA Referee Training Programme. Having been a Referee himself for many years he had experience-varied situations both good and bad. This experience was used as the building blocks for the new training programme, which not only includes rules but also area and conflict management skills. To compliment the programme Andrew also produced a comprehensive manual.
In November he once again took on the role of WKA England Squad Manager as he travelled to Spain with them for the 2006 World Championships.
December brought a new challenge as he applied to Sport England to take the CMAA through their Club Mark in order to add more credibility to the Cobra Quality Club Award. He was told that as the CMAA are not a part of Sport England that this cannot be done. Andrew then made an appeal, in writing, to his local Sports Trust under equal opportunities.
They looked at the case and granted permission for him to go through the Club Mark accreditation process and receive The Greater Manchester Sports Partnership Club Mark. This is the local equivalent to that of Sport England, in fact it's the Sport England Club Mark Pack that is used during accreditation. The process went ahead with a completion date estimated at being the early part of 2007 based on the fact that the CMAA already meets the requirements in full as a result of the Cobra Quality Club Award. All that remained was for Andrew to attend a couple of Courses run by the Sports Trust in order to finalize it.
In March Andrew was interviewed by the World Of Martial Arts TV (www.woma.tv), on the 15th, about the Martial Arts Standards Agency and why the CMAA joined. WOMA is owned by the same Production Company who made the "Mind Body & Kickass Moves".
May the 21st saw Andrew increase in Ju-Jitsu grade to 3rd Dan when he was graded at the Tsunami Ju-Jitsu Club in Burnley.
August brought the 2007 WKA World Championships in Germany, Andrew once again put on his "hat" as WKA England Team Manager.
Later this month saw the CMAA Head Office being awarded The Greater Manchester Sports Partnership Club Mark. This is the local equivalent to that of Sport England, infact it was the Sport England Club Mark Pack that was used during accreditation.
In January 2008 Andrew was asked to teach at the Greater Manchester Police Karate Club. After the 2-hour session and after looking at what the CMAA had to offer the club decided to join. This added additional accreditation to the CMAA's already good name.
In May, due to the CMAA now being established as one of the largest Martial Arts Bodies within the UK, the Black Belt Register was redesigned as a National Register for anyone (both members and non-members) wanting to have their grade ratified and listed. This change was the result of numerous requests to be listed from outside of the group. Along with this change came the securing of the domain name www.blackbeltregister.co.uk.
September saw the introduction of the CMAA Club Star Rating System. This allows clubs to claim ‘stars’ as they make use of the CMAA optional programmes such as Martial Arts Instructor UK, Cobra Quality Club Award and Cobra Kids which in-turn enhance the service they offer to students. The new scheme was voted on by the CMAA member clubs at the time with over 80% voting in favour of it’s introduction.
In October a new magazine hit the streets known as 'Martial Arts Standard'. Andrew was asked to write an article on the importance of standards within coaching in the Martial Arts and also how MASA had made an impact on public awareness.
Also this month a senior CMAA member made the following statement to the group:
"To all CMAA members and associates. After long talks between other CMAA Members in the Instructor Area we have decided to award Andrew Morrell his 7th Dan Cobra FMA as his time at 6th Dan has now been served as per CMAA time served requirements. These discussions started months ago and the intention has been to award Andrew at one of the past CMAA events, however this has not been possible due to people’s timetables etc and the distance between us all. There for as from today we would like to announce that Andrew Morrell is herby recognised by the rank of 7th Dan Cobra FMA and I think that all CMAA members and Instructors will agree that our President Andrew Morrell has earned this promotion with all the hard work and dedication he puts into to managing the CMAA."
At 8am on Friday 21st November 2008, the Greater Manchester Police Karate Team embarked on a martial arts marathon that would take them through to 8pm the following day, Saturday 22nd November. A full 36hrs training with only a 5-minute break allowed for every hour trained! Andrew relocated some of his courses and taught for 9 hours at this event donating all of his fees to the cancer charity CLIC Sergant.
Back in November 2008 Andrew contacted the Central Council for Physical Recreation (CCPR). CCPR is the national alliance of governing and representative bodies of sport and recreation who’s current President is HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. Membership is only granted to national governing / representative bodies who can prove they meet the requirements. At first the CCPR were reluctant to offer membership to the CMAA but after many phone calls Andrew was able to show the high standard that the CMAA represents, not to mention the size of the group as a whole, and after further deliberation the CCPR board of Directors granted membership to the CMAA in February 2009. The CCPR later became The Sports & Recreation Alliance.
August saw the launch of the MASA 5 web page in order to further promote the work of the Martial Arts Standards Agency in educating students and parents as to what they should expect from their Instructor by way of qualifications and credentials.
This later (2014) became the CMAA Instructor Standards page which can be seen here www.instructorstandards.co.uk
Form time to time, when a club leaves one Martial Arts Group in favour of joining another, the estranged group attempts to spread propaganda in an attempt to discredit the club Instructor. The common ‘theme’ of such propaganda is that he or she is not insured or qualified any more or even that the club has closed down.
This is underhanded and could even be considered as illegal if the comments are untrue or misleading with the aim of causing one to make a financial loss or another to a make financial gain (Sec 2 of the 2006 Fraud Act). Some even contact the venues the Instructors use informing them that he/she is not regulated by a larger MA Group and as such should not be teaching etc etc.... While there are certain pit falls to not being in membership to a larger body, it most certainly does not give any person the right to behave in this manner. As a result of this ludicrous behaviour, Andrew publicised a quote from the 2006 Fraud Act in order to inform ‘victims’ that action can be taken to stop it.
In January 2010 the World Karate & Kickboxing Council increased Andrew's Freestyle Karate/Kickboxing grade to 6th Dan based in his service to them as Child Protection rep as well as being the former England Team Manager for the WKA during the past 6 years.
May saw Andrew carry out an investigation into another group’s claims relating to insurance for Mixed Martial Arts (Cage Fighting). He had been looking into this for the past 5 years and to date had proven other claims to be incorrect – this new one was no different and once again he was able to show that competing/fighting/sprring in this style carries zero insurance.
In June the CMAA was 8 years old and Andrew decided to launch another ‘branch’ of the CMAA at the request of many of the member Instructors, that being Cobra Self Defence.
The idea behind this new venture is that Cobra Self Defence will run courses for Instructors to expand on their teaching skills and also for members of the public to expand on their self defence/protection skills. www.cobraselfdefence.co.uk
Andrew was presented with a problem later in September which was that as the popularity of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) grew Instructors and students alike began to ask If there was a way they could be graded and recognised by the CMAA. The concept of a person holding a grade in MMA has been discussed around the world with no real conclusion because, after all, MMA is by definition a combination of various arts and does not normally include belt gradings.The most acceptable way to grade in MMA is to be judged fight per fight in competition, however some MMA clubs are not as competitive as others so how can they be graded. The same applies to accomplished fighters with nothing to show, grade wise, who then turn to teaching rather than fighting themselves and as such require a syllabus to work from offering recognised grades. The answer to this problem is Kick-Jitsu, which is a combination of the throws, locks, groundwork from Ju-Jitsu and the kicks and strikes from Kickboxing.
Based on his own grades and background in both kickboxing and Ju-Jitsu Andrew wrote a Kick-Jitsu syllabus that could be used by any club that wished to. www.cobrakickjitsu.co.uk
June 1st 2011 saw an increase in Andrew’s Ju-Jitsu grade from 3rd to 4th Dan having served the required time. This was certified by Den Butler 8th Dan, John Greenhalgh 8th Dan and Ray Bell 7th Dan.
During March and April Andrew had attended training courses in senior management with the Chartered Management Institute. This course was successfully passed and in October he received a CMI Level 6 Award in Management and Leadership (QCF).
The Police Martial Arts scheme was launched during June giving members of the UKs Police services the option to train at CMAA clubs on a casual basis based around their shift patterns.
In September Andrew combined the Cobra Quality Club Award (2006) and the CMAA Club Star Rating System (2008) in to a new award for clubs to achieve should they wish to. The new Centre of Excellence Award was launched and received a positive welcome from CMAA members. A new domain name www.cmaacentreofexcellence.co.uk was obtained and used for the COE award web page.
In December Andrew wrote and article on bullying for the online magazine 'Martial Arts Pulse'.
2012 saw the CMAA celebrate its tenth anniversary, as such a commemorative badge was designed by Andrew.
Junior Black Belt grades were standardised through out the CMAA at the start of 2013 allowing children to grade at junior level from 1st Junior Black Belt and up. This helps to keep their interest while they await the age when they can grade for 1st Dan and up. A section relating to this was also added to the Black Belt Register.
Based on the CMAA time served guidelines of 5 years between all grades after 4th Dan Genshin Kai International recognised Andrew by the grade of 8th Dan Cobra FMA in August. As this is the highest grade within the style this brought Andrew to the end of his grading journey.
The award badges for the Martial Arts Instructor UK training programme were changed in March. The reason being that many clubs outside of the CMAA were now using the programme and the old badges stated 'Cobra' on them. The new badge was more in line with the MAIUK national brand.
Andrew was asked by Martial Arts Guardian Magazine to write an article relating to the law and self defence within the UK. The article as also featured in other magazines as well and can be read here.
In January Andrew received notification that the CMAA had made it into the top 3 for the award of
'Association of the Year' at the British Martial Arts awards to be held in April.
In April he became a member of the Sports and Recreation Alliance Education Expert Reference Group (EERG) due to the Martial Arts Instructor UK programme. The aim of the EERG is to influence the physical activity offered in education settings by working collectively to share knowledge, expertise and learning.
In May Andrew's Ju-Jitsu grade increased from 4th to 5th Dan being awarded by Den Butler of Genshin Kai International.
In January Andrew received notification that the CMAA had once again made it into the top 3 for the award of 'Association of the Year' at the British Martial Arts awards to be held in April.
On 29th March Andrew's Freestyle Karate & Kickboxing grade was increased to 7th Dan. This was awarded by the World Karate & Kickboxing Council.
On 22nd April the CMAA won the title of Association of the Year 2017 at the British Martial Arts Awards.
At the end of February 2018, under the Cobra Self Defence banner, Andrew developed a new 'Bully Aware' programme for member clubs to use. Unlike other ‘anti bullying’ programmes this has been written to focus on educating children to identify the 2 aspects of this horrible situation and to both speak out to teachers, parents and also to support the victim. While we can probably never stop it, education can help to prevent it. The 2 aspects the programme focuses on are verbal and physical. The facts that are missed by many with both aspects are that in adults both are crimes! Verbal bullying is harassment, physical bullying is assault. The programme also looks at school rules relating to no fighting reiterating that this is absolutely correct. However everyone has the right to defend themselves in law and our new programme focuses on that too. Fighting by definition is 2 people trying to hurt each other, Self defence (a right under common law) is one person trying to hurt another and the other stopping them.
During the Coronavirus pandemic Andrew worked tirelessly keeping CMAA member clubs updated as restrictions were imposed. during the main lockdown he encouraged and guided many to continue their clubs online. Policies were written and constantly changed as the UK made it's way through this terrible time.
In October Andrew visited one of the CMAA clubs and was surprised to find a select few CMAA Instructors
there who presented him with a solid silver ring embossed with the CMAA logo and inscribed with the words
'Don't block with ya face!' which is a term Andrew constantly used when training students to compete.
2022 saw the CMAA reach 20 years old. This is a massive mile stone as many martial arts groups are set up over the years but more fail than succeed. As with the 10th anniversary in 2012 Andrew again designed a 20 years badge for members to mark the occasion.
And the rest, as they say, is history.