Photo Album I
by 'Dickie' Valentine
A Big Hi! to Everyone,

After such a fantastic reunion weekend, like Sid Sheard, I feel it necessary to add my own personal tribute & heartfelt thanks to Tom Lawton 'et al' for yet another superbly organized gathering once again this year. ALL of us thoroughly appreciate the enormous amount of work & preparation that it takes to putting on such an event & can only hope that you (Tom) & your team get as much satisfaction back on seeing so many happy smiling faces on the night greeting each other like long lost rele's (even if they do fail to recognize each other on first glances!).

Derek Usher

Just on that one however, it occurred to me how useful it might be for all concerned if we were to be issued with name tags or something similar upon entrance at the Tot barrel. This would be purely to save any form of embarrassment as it's been known for one of these old familiar faces to go so far as to buy you a "wet" because they remember you well. However in the meantime, 'you' are still frantically trying to dig deep into the recesses desperately trying to either remember the guys name or worse, just recognize who the heck the person is! It has happened to us all of us at some point or another. Unfortunately life doesn't allow us to maintain our youth forever, nor keep our dark wavy hair or military figures! So now we turn up to these reunions in disguise (all of us of a certain age) either sporting a nice grey beard with hair to match, or some come with no hair at all, combined with a fine portly figure just to completely confound our comrades! I know it shouldn't be allowed really, but it is! Often you discover the guy with no hair & portly figure that you are talking to, is the very same "run ashore oppo'" of yesteryear that you last remember had jet black wavy hair, a fine torso, the envy of many & who always used to pull the best "party" only to leave you with her skinny mate, goofy teeth, braces & ginger pigtails for good measure!

Still at least now I feel equal & the skinny mate, goofy teeth "party" I'm still with some 45 years later! (Those pigtails did it for me!!) But seriously the tag thing wouldn't be a bad thing would it? Perhaps put it to the vote next year?
[Editor: A great idea and I will be discussing that and other issues with Sir Tom Lawton in the near future.]

Congrats' a plenty to the RM School Of Music Beat Retreat once again. Every year they seem to raise the bar & it just gets better. The musical aptitude together with the military precision including the Corps of Drums were all totally top class & I felt so privileged to be there as a witness with all of my ex Bandies. Proud to have served and to have once been a part of that which has made the RM Band Service so world renowned. Having said that, - was OUR RM school of Music Band that good? I honestly do not think so. The choice is so obviously greater now & therefore the standard upon entry has to be that much better. But Thank God for it I say. Isn't it strange but having performed in so many Beat Retreats in the past, I didn't think I'd ever want to sit & watch one ever again! But every year I look forward to seeing the Band perform for us & I even sadly admit to the old traditional lump in the throat for Sunset! Bloody marvelous stuff chaps & a mammoth well done & thanks from us all I'd say!

Great to see so many faces there again. I won't mention them all as I'd be bound to leave someone out! But I do thank Jem & Pam Tugwood for putting up with me for practically the whole night. I must have battered their ears senseless & at the RMA on Sunday once more! Sorry folks if I did!!

Sadly however, Chris Davis's last year plea for some of our old DOM's to attend in 2006 went unheeded again. Where are you all? We'll even salute you if that's what it would mean to get you down to one of our get togethers!! - We don't mind at all! - It would just be so nice for everyone to get the opportunity to chew over some of the old times when we might have served with you. Please try to make an effort for us all next year & we will all do our utmost to ensure that you have a weekend to remember!

Finally anyone who has yet to make the RM Memorial Service on the Sunday at the Cathedral please do yourself & your family a favour in 2007 & just GO there!! I'm ashamed to admit that this was my first time & I cannot begin to express how magnificent the whole 1 & 1/2 hours experience made me feel. From beginning to end everyone there must surely have felt so uplifted by the most wonderful RM Orchestra & 4 solo instrumentalists all under the direction of Chris Davies, the magnificent choir boys & men. The service ended with the full Fanfare Trumpet team orchestra, choirs & organ. Wow! it was absolutely breathtaking. I have to also say that I am not a really devoted religious person in the church going sense. But I came way with an amazing feeling of well being there. I used to detest the sermons but I felt compelled to listen to this one & even that all added to the sense of togetherness & the sheer joy of being with kindred spirits who were all there for one purpose. Magnificent occasion. Just go easy on the booze the night before because you don't ever want to miss another occasion such as that. It was glorious!

Sid Sheard and Tom

Then it was over to the RMA Club for more meet ups with a few more ex's (some of whom I'd missed the night before) so a bit of catch up there. Lovely club, nice people nice prices too! Pity it was spoilt by me not winning a single raffle ticket. But fortunately I budgeted for that as I never win anything any way so it wasn't too much of a loss! Hope you weren't too ill on that dodgy wine you won Jem?

Great to see our Richard there as always. What a trip to make to be with us all & what a superb guy too. If it were not for him, we would not be getting the opportunity to be writing epilogues such as this. Thanks a million kind sir we all are not worthy!

Cheers again Richard for all that you do to keep this huge RMB family together.

Derek Usher

[Editor:- I worked on this piece upon receipt at 0600hrs this morning. Derek was frustrated, and rightly so, due to the cut off of his initial attempt to open his heart to the otherwise secure and adequate guestbook. However, such a well written document as this is deserves the accolade that I hope is portrayed here and I must say that my tears of gratitude upon first reading are of no embarrasment to me. I am deeply humbled and feel sure that this years attempt to record what took place is now more complete by the lovely account by one of the nicest people I have ever had the privilege to serve with and to know. Thank you so much Derek.]

Now [click here] for some of those "youthful" faces.

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