The 57ers (Heinz 57 Varieties) 1st Stand Alone Reunion 29-31 May 2015
We held our first reunion during the weekend Fri 29 to Sun 31 May 2015 at Blaby Hotel in Leicester. 43 attended the weekend & 40 sat down for the dinner evening.
On Friday 20 of us arrived and booked into the hotel. As soon as Mike Heslop and I arrived we both booked in and then drove straight back to Birmingham airport to pick-up Mick Oulds who was flying in from Germany. Mick’s flight was approximately 1 hour late, but eventually we found Mick and bundled him into the car and left the airport bound for Leicester. During the journey a lot of banter distracted me and it was soon obvious I missed the M6 turning and we were still travelling north on the M42 destined for Burton-upon-Trent.
The faithful old map then came out and both Mike & Mick couldn’t orientate themselves with my old 2005 road map, so I turned off the M42 and travelled back south until I found the A5 which led us onto the M69 and eventually on in to Leicester. I never lived it down and was rudely told to get an up to date map or a sat nav. We met up with all those who gathered in the hotel and we sat down for our evening meal together.
Afterwards George Vince and I did some preliminary work to set-up the video link and preparations for the dinner evening.
After a few drinks we all retired for a good night’s sleep. After breakfast on Saturday morning a lot went off into Leicester or to other places of local interest whilst George Vince set-up the video link & I did the archive photos and the preparations in the Bosworth suite for our dinner evening.
The rest of our 57ers started to turn-up just before midday and were greeted & welcomed in. Some we had not met since we passed out from the apprentice school in 1960, so there was a lot to talk about.
All the 57ers archive photos were put on slide show and displayed on full screen for all to see throughout the afternoon. Mike Carn our raffle master with Mary Elliott and a few other ladies started to accept raffle prize donations. Mike immediately stashed them away into his room and later on in the day they mingled amongst everyone to sell the raffle tickets.
Around lunch time whilst the food and drink was being served George & I got all the 57 lads into the restaurant ready for the video link session. Considering that we hadn’t done this before it went surprising well, however not without a few hiccups.
George conducted proceedings in strict order so there wasn’t a lot of over talking. We linked-up with Fred Ordnyski, Mike Street & Peter Drake in Perth, Jim Cliff in Tasmania, Derek Driver in Canada, Peter Corbett in USA, Phillip Mellor in Germany & Dave (Lugs) Roberts in Lancaster. It was a great experience for all with lots of banter and sharp comments that kept us all laughing. Full marks were awarded to George for coming up with the idea and organising it to near perfection.
As the video link was coming to an end I noticed a guy on a motor bike passing the window, I thought to myself that’s John Pover. Sure enough in comes John dressed in blue jeans carrying helmet and jacket. At about 4pm we held a meeting to get everyone views on the following: Future reunions including our 60th anniversary in 2017, find more 57ers, donations for 57ers deaths, help to assist me, etc.
The majority agreed to hold 57ers reunions every 2 years, so our next will be in 2017. Several said that they will try and find some more of our lost 57ers. It was agreed for me to carry on with the present system when notified of a 57ers death, to request donations from everyone and send a sympathy card to the bereaved family.
Nobody volunteered to join a small committee to assist me, however after a lot persuasion Peter Church volunteered to audit our small fund account. After the meeting was adjourned everyone continued to circulate around to meet old friends, so the catch-up talks proceeded in earnest.
Just before 6 pm John Pover departed and Jim Stares got very tired, so Jim and his son Matthew decided not to attend the dinner evening, they gave their farewells and departed, then the rest of us retired to get ready for the evening events.
Most were present at the main bar for pre drinks by 6.30pm and at 6.45pm we all went outside for a group photograph. Just after 7pm we were called into the Bosworth suite for dinner. Before dinner was served I gave a welcome speech and explained that the CDs on the tables contained all the archive photos collected from many 57ers including AOBA reunions and the AAS Memorial, and this was a gift for each 57er present.
We all then stood up for 1 minutes silence in honour of our departed 57ers which was followed by grace. After an excellent dinner we had the royal toast for the Queen & our Colonel in Chief, followed by toasts for absent friends and for our ladies and guests. After coffee was served I got up and thanked the hotel staff for the lovely dinner and the service that they had provided.
I then generally thanked all those that had supported me in getting this reunion established. On sitting down Mike Carn got up and said a few kind words and promptly presented me with a gift on behalf of all those present at the reunion.
When I opened up the package it contained a Sat Nav; and I must admit since using it, it has proved to be a great asset to me. So to all those who contributed and to Mike & Mick who sneakily suggested I needed one please accept my sincere gratitude.
Mike then got on with the raffle which took quite a while, because so many of you were extremely generous in donating so many prizes. Once all the prizes had been claimed Mike announced that we had made £161, so well done to everyone. I must thank Mike and all the good ladies who helped him in conducting such a good raffle, well done to all. Now being all well fed and watered it was time to introduce our female vocalist & entertainer Lesley, who immediately got tucked into some raunchy singing. It was then that I remembered that we hadn’t had a rendering of “The Reds are here” so we promptly got it into action.
Afterwards Lesley continued with her routine and circulated around all the tables. The evening continued into the early hours of Sunday morning before the last people present decided to get to bed.
Sunday morning most were up in time for breakfast, booked out of the hotel and tendered their farewells ready to leave for home. I drove Barry Baxter down to Leicester railway station and returned back to the hotel to book out and take Mick Oulds back to Birmingham airport and then travel south onwards to Bournemouth with Mike Heslop.
The following 57ers could not attend the reunion because of poor health or of their wives/partners. Apologies were received from 57A: Vince Fuller, Bob Sleep, Les Fountain, Jim Gardner, Stan Earl & Rob Lee. 57B: Peter McGuiggan, John Morgan, Dave Roberts, Eric Broomhall & John Pudge.
Our first stand alone reunion has been voted by most as a complete success and has left us with a firm foundation to build upon to encourage more 57ers to attend future reunions.
We can improve things for our 60th anniversary to encourage more that we are in contact with to attend and also to find a lot more of our 57ers that we currently have no contact details for. Linda Vince has kindly volunteered to keep the ladies entertained whilst we men swing the lamps at the next reunion, so I ask you all to do a little bit of searching for those long lost 57 buddies to swell our numbers.
AOBA Reunion 17-19 July 2015
As expected our numbers dwindled even more this year, only 4 of us turned up for the AOBA weekend, they were Derek Wheatland, Jim Gardner, Mike Heslop and myself. Hopefully our numbers will increase significantly for our 60th anniversary in 2017. Keith Allcock joined us on the Saturday for the parade and memorial service. We planted 2 crosses on the memorial after the service in the remembrance of Bill Tudman 57A & Les Mungeam 57B.
Our 60th Anniversary in 2017
At the 57ers reunion meeting everyone agreed that we should hold the 57ers stand alone reunions every 2 years on the last weekend in May at the same venue in Leicester. This poses a slight problem for those travelling from abroad if they want to attend both the AOBA & the 57ers reunions, especially in 2017. The AOBA traditionally hold their reunion around mid July, so for our 60th anniversary I propose that we hold our stand alone reunion the weekend before the AOBA reunion, this will allow those travelling from Australia, Canada, USA etc to make arrangements for a 2 week or more stay in the UK. If the majority agree then I can go ahead and provisionally book the hotel now. I would appreciate everyone’s views on this proposal, especially those living abroad or any other alternative suggestions.