2010 RAFSA Reunion, Crewe
by Debbie Attoe, Reunion Organiser
What a relief, on Thursday 7th October, to drive up that lovely winding driveway leading to Wychwood Park, with a great gut feeling that the weekend was going to be a good one.
And so it was. It started well, it ended well and the bit in the middl was full of fun, laughter and many memorable moments. As usual, the Reunion Committee were on form, and the large atrium by the hotel reception quickly turned into a hive of activity.
Les and Brian practised their ‘trapeze artist’ skills whilst hanging banners and flags and tables and displays were efficiently set up to ensure Seletarites [and Tengahrites, adds Charles White] had all the help they needed upon arrival.
By Friday morning, through both excitement and anxiety, I had bitten my nails down and then we waited for the troops to arrive. I wanted to ensure that the weekend would be a total success; that members would happily wend their way home, feeling they’d had value for money, hopefully with the desire to come back again!
Vicky and Roger worked hard at welcoming members, whilst Margaret and Dave spent extra time helping Reunion first timers to settle in. Welcome day reminds me of the arrivals lounge at Heathrow Airport: all anticipation and excitement; so many people smiling, happy to have arrived at their destination, and keen to hug or shake hands with old buddies that they hadn’t seen for a while.
The energy was great, and the buzz got louder and louder as the day went on. We are also mindful of those members who are unwell and ill and could not attend this year&rsquos Reunion; our hearts and prayers go out to you.
It must be said that from day one, the hotel staff were professional, polite and always there when we needed them. Our thanks go out to them all for their consistent hard work and dedication.
We were very pleased to welcome founder member Les Nichol to the weekend gathering, and also honorary member Arthur Davey; we salute you both!
Committee, and members, were however disappointed to hear that our President, Rod Harris, had been quite unwell and unable to attend (Rod is very much on the mend now as I write this shortly after the event ended).
Vice President Ivor Congdon took over Rod’s duties, speeches and welcomes, and did a grand job; well done Ivor.
The sun shone all weekend, and many of our members were spotted roaming the grounds and golf course, soaking up the lovely surroundings. The baby moorhens that I had spotted earlier in the year were now fully grown and keen to accept scraps from any walker who happened upon the top pond in their travels.
Some members were spotted causing havoc in a golf buggy(!). Golfers leapt for their lives into the undergrowth and walkers were sent running from the mayhem that ensued! (Don’t worry Harriet, I won’t tell them it was you!).
There was a quick (but dodgy) practice with the Standard Bearers on Saturday morning. (Bevan Ambrose nearly put two members in the local hospital when he lost control of his flag pole!) However, we reined him in well, and Bev, Tom Cochrane and Derek Hobden were soon ready for Parade!
The day trips to Cosford and The Potteries were great successes and members returned eager to prepare for the Gala Dinner. 633 Squadron music was used to assist the (now safe and ‘non-prodding’) Marching-In of the Standards, and after Ivor’s welcome speech, hungry guests tucked in to the dinner.
Unbeknown to the committee, and even my family members who were present, I had been secretly practising to ‘entertain the troops’ with a few songs.
Once dessert was over, I took to the floor with what felt like a thousand butterflies doing somersaults in my stomach! Once I got going I thoroughly enjoyed it, and remembered all my lines but hey, for a split second, I really thought I was Nancy Sinatra. Alas, I didn’t have my ‘boots’ on!
Steve from ‘Hipswing’ did us proud with the disco, and at times it was difficult to grab a spot on the dance floor. Nigel Reay enjoyed being John Travolta for a few hours and I’m convinced that my Les thought he was ‘The Big Bopper’! Well done all the jivers too!
Chris Puxley and his Fighter Pilots did a grand job with their aerobatic display and entertained us for sometime. The Tiger Bottle Binos were a great invention, and crowds gathered to admire the James Bond style tactics and gadgets. Well done Chris!
What a night: Margaret raised £705 on the raffle and there were some happy faces as the prizes were claimed.
Our MC Peter Michelotti did another grand job and we were thrilled that it was such a successful night, shared with guests from the Helicopter, Changi and our own Tengah Association colleagues.
On Sunday, the AGM went well and new Chairman David Taylor was welcomed in after Roger Edwards stepped down. Roger and I will continue to help organise the Annual Reunions, and we will also run basic accounts until a new Treasurer is found [Ed, anyone out there willing to take on the job?]. Allen Fletcher was thanked for the superb work he has done for RAFSA over the last 6 years. We will certainly miss him! I retain my post as Secretary, and Vicky Johnson and Chris Puxley were promoted to Officer Status on the Reunion Organising Team.
Ivor also presented the Telford Trophy to John Rogers and Runners up Trophy to Dave Taylor (again). Very well done chaps. Most members present expressed how happy they were with the weekend and would be glad to return to Wychwood Park.
Some Members departed after a lovely 4 course Sunday lunch. Others stayed behind to relax after what had been a very successful few days
Well done team, and thank you for all the hard work that went in to the weekend. Thank you also to all members and friends who attended; to Claire and the Wychwood Staff for all their help at the Hotel and to my Mum for coming over from France to join us! Until next time at Wychwood Park.
Charles White adds: with Patrick Smith, I went to see the spectacular Pontcysyllte Aqueduct at Llangollen and recommend it for others to visit next year. Still others went to the Anderton Boat Lift. After another enjoyable evening in good company, come Monday morning the remainder of us wound our happy way home.