is my endeavor to record as many reunions (as God gives me the opportunity)
with as much emphasis upon the occasion and not as much on personalities.
Having said that, it is truly difficult not to mention certain persons
and you will forgive me if I become a tad sentimental within these
I am astounded and profoundly impressed by the organisation of this
event each and every year. For the second time Ashley Williams and
his team gave us all a weekend to remember.
Having secured my accommodation after driving from London's Heathrow
airport, I ventured out to a watering hole that I knew would have a
few old favorites swinging the proverbial lamp. You will forgive me
for not being as camera active this year as in previous years, but the
truth be known I retreated from the Chief's Mess bar after the display
due to acute congestion, at the bar. More of that later.
Living in the USA since 1992 there are many things that an ex patriot
Brit' crave and one of them are good ol' fish n' chips. So, knowing
that as I walked past the pub 'Invincible', there were chums already
deep in conversation, I perambulated on to the 'Hard' where there is
very good 'chippie' sitting opposite HMS Warrior. Let me tell you that
the weather for the duration of my visit to the UK was nothing less
than perfect and this particular Saturday afternoon was pleasant and
with very comfortable temperatures.
I took a call from a mate of mine who I missed so badly last year, one
Tony Oliver. Tony was on his way to the Invincible from (it's hard not
to say Vicky Barracks) Nelson and I decided to walk back in that direction
in order to meet him and his entourage. In tow were Alan Webb, (not
seen 'im since 95?) Bob Graham and the inimitable Sid Sheard. By the
way, Sid appeared to be and indeed WAS looking in perfect health since
his recent spell in the sickbay. You will see in the few but poignant
photos that accompany this small epistle.
We, that is to say, "the throng", were grateful and joyful
to have in our midst two personalities that have braved our sickbay
with identical complaints. John Wright travelled all the way from Spain
and Huw Morris all the way from South Wales. I know that everyone will
concur that it was humbling and a privilege to have them both within
our grasp for a weekend that must go down in history as one of the best,
if not THE best!
On to the main event, the Band Display and the remainder of our weekend.
Assembling in the gymnasium after our complementary 'tot' in the bar,
the masses took a seat and we all sensed that something very different
was going to take place in contrast to previous years, as good as they
all were. The presentation, the atmosphere, lighting and the martial
display was beyond any reasonable doubt, perfect. The combination of
music and marching has in my estimation not ever been executed as succinctly
as this. If you are reading this as a curious observer and have not
been to a reunion for a considerable period, then you truly must shake
off all inhibition and support this event that has grown into iconic
stature. I dare not say more, as there truly are no better epithets
to describe the evening.
of Brian Thorogood
the display we returned to the bar. I am informed that next year there
will be better management of it. Say no more!
The Sunday service found the cathedral full to the brim. This year is
the 20th anniversary of the atrocity that took Deal into the history
books for all the wrong reasons. That said, the names and references
to the musicians who were murdered were mentioned by the minister and
included as part of the whole reason that we visit and pay homage to
the fallen of conflicts past. Lt Col Nick Grace directed the orchestra
along with the cathedral choir and organ collectively performing thoughtfully
I should bring to your attention that there are a dedicated group who
like to congregate at the RMA Eastney after the service and indeed there
was a fabulous turnout. This year the bar stayed open beyond what used
to be perhaps a 3pm closing time and I'm given to understand that the
times have been relaxed officially for the foreseeable future.
Some of the old Faithfull's find themselves down-town Pompey at Wetherspoons
on the Sunday night reunion weekend. The accompanying photo selection
gives a raw impression of how much fun we all have.
Great to see you all!
Let's do it again next year!
Richard Valentine (Webmaster)
Laderzi (Web Designer)