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This recollection of events is dedicated to Bernard's wife Kath, and daughters Julie and Bev for their unstinting work in preparing and arranging for the party of a lifetime.
Mr Valentine (Richard),
It really is not possible to describe the feelings, the emotions, of that minute, the embrace took all of five minutes and when the tears had finally cleared it was time to recognise everyone else that was present, no mean task I can tell you.
The next few hours were taken up chatting and renewing old acquaintances. It was lovely to see my friends from a local Rest Home, and more so one of the residents who made the effort to come to see me, Harriet Manson was 100 years old in September, and quick to remind people she was now 100 plus two months. The afternoon ended all too quickly, but during that time I was asked to take brother Peter to see a friends new house, I was later to realise that it was a bluff to get me out of the house, so now its your turn to take a breather while I get ready to take you all on the next phase of the birthday party.
It was on my return to home that I said to Peter, "Right mate, now for that quiet dinner with the family". More Ha! Haaaaaaa!
The farm gates are now in my sights once more, and again I see more cars, but silly me thought they were left overs from the afternoon session. Three of my grandchildren were there to meet me, and sing in dubious harmony Happy B etc: The same trek to the house, and the same entrance, but what awaited me was more than can ever be described in letter form. Over 70 friends, relations and ex Royal Marines Bandsmen had assembled in my lounge to give me the best kept secret in NZ on that day, a surprise party.
SURPRISE? Well, if seeing standing above all others, and waving the American Flag, grinning like a Cheshire cat, was, you guessed it, (Dickie Valentine) to his left was from Plymouth, England, Roy "Nobby" Slater, in front of him also from England was Rod Preston. Now, with Joe Simms, Charlie Lashmar, Alf Smith, Dave Pierson, Dave Ibbotson, Norm Feast, Peter Jackson, John Reeseg Garry Brownrigg, Henry Garrat, Chippy Carpenter, Ken Collis & Lou Miller, all present and correct sir! More Ha! Haaaa! It can now be told, that so much was planned for the evening but just didn't happen, a gig band was arranged, was present but were having such a good time, didn't rig up! What's the penalty for that? Better see Ken (Drummer) Collis.
So Mr Valentine, with over 100 cards now to respond to plus untold e-mails, and some telephoning, its clear that I shall not be in a position to write a full report on the event, I therefore challenge you to add your BIT to help the ole fella out! I now leave with the final accolade, which must go to my dear Wife Katherine for her organising skills, who with my two daughters Julie and Beverly Anne kept this whole thing a complete secret. This was a tremendous effort and a strain on them all. How they managed to live with me over the past three months I shall never know. Thank you so much for everything girls, I'm now told an RMB New Zealand re-union is being arranged for March 24. 2001.