16th Reunion at The Peacock Inn, Henton, Bucks
Our 16th Entry Reunion in September 2007 was arranged to coincide with the 9th RAFHAAA Triennial Reunion at RAF Halton (See separate write-up). Now sit back for a while and read this missive about a truly great weekend.
From the outset our very successful 50th Anniversary Reunion in 2006 was always going to be a hard act to follow. Add to that the fact that we have yet to find a “special place” as a regular reunion venue since our last trip to Southlands back in 2004. Tough call!
I think Ivor may have “cracked it” this time by finding The Peacock Inn which is located in a beautiful countryside setting at Henton. It’s pretty central and easy for everyone to get to (a few miles from the M40, Jct 6) and is just a few miles (about 15 - 20 minute’s drive) from RAF Halton. The old Inn is quaint with real history and is undergoing a lot of refurbishing work. Martin (the owner) and his staff (especially Neeta the Manager) is very friendly and accommodating. When we arrived at the Inn on Thursday they were still laying new carpet and hanging curtains in the newly converted dining room; just to make sure the place was ready for our reunion. That’s dedication and commitment. Go to the website http://www.peacock.uk.com and see for yourself.
Some of us (The “A” Team), had arrived a day ahead of time on Thursday evening! Why would Ivor John, Mike Tuckman, Jon and Angela Philipson, Janet and John Burt want to do that? Check it out in the write-up on the 2007 RAFHAAA Triennial Reunion.
Stefan and Jane Chimelowski also arrived on Thursday but they had a different reason for coming down early from up North. It was their Wedding Anniversary this weekend they had planned to visit some of the museums.
By the time the “A” Team returned from Halton on Friday evening after a very hard days work setting up the Rotorcraft Exhibition and Display for the Triennial Reunion, most of the Entry Family had arrived and were pretty well ensconced in the bar and catching up on a year’s news. Needless to say it was great to see almost all our regulars in attendance and in good spirit.
A noticeable new face was Jack Knoops who was joining us for the first time – great to see Jack again after so many years. Also, despite their ongoing health difficulties it was really good to see Jean Smith, Dave Lincoln, Maurice Raven, John and Anne Fenwick and the unstoppable Mike and Gwyneth Frost again. Eventually, we all went in for dinner and enjoyed some really good tasty food (I had the steak & ale pie – it was delicious).
After dinner and back in the bar, Ivor held the weekend briefing. The usual admin stuff was covered and some extra bits about the Triennial by me. This included an overview of the Rotorcraft Exhibition and Display that was being put on for the Triennial by the 83rd Entry Rotorcraft enthusiasts (The “A” Team). We made a request for volunteers to help “man the stand” on Saturday and clearly the 83rd are a good, reliable bunch of folks – plenty of volunteers stepped forward. Sincere thanks to you all for your help and support on the day, including the ladies who visited the airfield after lunch – much appreciated.
On Saturday morning after an early breakfast the “A” Team took off for Halton to open up the Rotorcraft Exhibition. We were followed shortly after by the other chaps that came to the Triennial and from what I understand, the ladies went about doing their own thing after a leisurely breakfast. All right for some!
After a superb day at the Triennial, we all returned to the Inn on Saturday evening. Some of us initially gravitated toward the bar (nothing new with that!) to compare notes and Mal Woods got a team of us together to erect the brand spanking new Entry Banner above the Fireplace, ready for the evening’s proceedings. It had been proudly carried for the first time on the march-up to Henderson Square for the Sunset Ceremony.
Then we all went to our rooms and got scrubbed-up, put on our finery and assembled in the bar again – this time for pre-dinner drinks. We were joined for the evening by Dave and Heather Stone, Brian Canton, Mac and Irene Payne and their daughter Karla and it was great to see them all again. It was particularly nice to know that Mac and his family are coping well with his infirmity. Clearly Mac doesn’t quit easy.
Unfortunately Johnnie and Annie Walker were unable to join us for the Reunion Dinner this year so that meant we would miss “Jock the peeps” to march us into dinner and a witty grace to precede the meal. Not true! Due to technology, Johnnie was with us in spirit, if not in body because I had got Johnnie to record on a tape (it was an old one that was bit scratchy – typical Jock!), a couple of pieces with him playing the traditional “peep music”. Anyway the ruse worked out rather well and when we initially started it up on the speaker system in the bar everyone started looking around for him. Having told folks what was happening after the introductory piece, we all marched into dinner to the second piece of peep music.
As if that wasn’t enough, after we all got to our tables Ivor announced that I would say grace. I made a short introduction about Johnnie having sent me his shortest grace and promptly read it out. My efforts even got some applause and a fair bit of laughter. My thanks to Johnnie for making the tape and providing a pleasant surprise for everyone.
The reunion dinner was great. Round tables of eight made for easier conversation in a more intimate setting, without losing contact with the rest of the family. More important, and no disrespect to our former reunion venues, this was the best food we have enjoyed at our reunion dinners since we started back in 1992. Believe me!
After dinner Ivor gave us the usual run down on those unable to attend, missing members, etc.
Pat O’Shea gave us the latest update on Judith. It has obviously been a pretty emotional time for Patrick and his family since Judith’s accident. Thankfully she is improving but it does appear she has quite a way to go to full recovery.
Also, Mal Woods congratulated the “A” Team on a job well done.
This year we didn’t have an after dinner speaker so Ivor asked me to give an overview of how we came to get involved with putting on the Rotorcraft Exhibition and Display. Having already covered some of this during the “bar briefing” on Friday evening I simply concentrated on some of the historical facts surrounding the centenary of helicopter flight and the early period of 75 years of RAF helicopter history.
Go to the 2007 RAFHAAA Triennial menu tab to read the full story about how it all came together. It took a lot of hard work but we succeeded in the end.
Then it was time for the customary reunion group photograph. With a new venue this year we had to decide where best to set up the group shot. Bit of a no-brainer really as you can see from the photograph. Ideally, the Entry Banner should have been mounted a bit higher and then maybe the flash would not have been reflected by the shiny surface!
It wasn't until I was going through the group photos that I discovered that Jon and Angela Philipson are missing. I have subsequently discovered that they shot off to bed right after the dinner feeling the effects of a very hard couple of days – Janet and I were not far behind them! Not wishing for Jon and Angela to be left out, the following photo shows them their enjoying dinner.
After a good nights rest, Sunday Morning was a lot calmer with no time pressure. This allowed for a much more leisurely breakfast and after an excellent "full English" (three in a row for me), cars were packed and everyone checked out ready for departure.
Each of us said our goodbyes with a firm promise to return again for the 17h Annual Reunion next year.