On Saturday 26th October 2013, shipmates, family and friends from Huntingdon & District Branch held their annual Trafalgar Night Dinner at Huntingdon’s Masonic Lodge, the Priory. Also attending were four members of St Neots & District Branch, three serving members of the Royal Navy, and even a retired Air Commodore.
The evening began, as usual, with pre-dinner drinks in the main bar room. Our President, Graham Holt, was delighted to inform our shipmates that we were being donated an artist’s sketch of him ‘sat in a Sea Fury’ (around 60 years ago).
An interesting coincidence is that the artist is the father of Shipmate Clare Aston, Mr Barry Limbrick. Just before Barry presented the framed print, Graham gave us all a talk on his first solo flight in this aircraft, he was also pleased when he was given a second sketch as a personal memento of his flight.
After the presentations, the Hon. Secretary, Karl Webb, read messages of goodwill from shipmates who could not attend the evening meal; as an added surprise, he also read out a letter from our Patron, Her Majesty The Queen, who wished our members and guests ‘best wishes’ and ‘warm thanks’ for our ‘message of loyal greetings’ (the Hon. Secretary had written to Her Majesty on behalf of the Branch).
Soon it was time for Shipmate Ben Dear to pipe ‘Hands to Dinner’; in his usual fashion, and with a new cap, Ben carried out his duties, much to the delight of our shipmates and guests.
As everyone moved to the dining hall, shipmates were able to see all the prizes that would be drawn in the raffle later that night, including the artwork from Barry Limbrick.
In addition, a table was set aside showing paintings and details of Nelson during the Battle of Trafalgar. Either side of the portrait of our Patron were the letters from Buckingham Palace wishing us an enjoyable evening.
Shipmates and guests then sat down for the meal itself. We had plenty of time to spin a few dits and enjoy the excellent food prepared for us by the catering staff. On completion of the meal, and in keeping with tradition, our Branch Chairman, Bill Small gave the Loyal Toast. The second toast, to the Immortal Memory, was given by our President, Graham Holt, and then it was time to ask our guest speaker, Lt Cdr Andy Duthie, to say a few words.
Andy wanted to discuss the issues of Health & Safety, but this was no ordinary lecture. With the help of CPO Kev Brettle, Andy re-enacted life onboard HMS Victory, and how the actions of 1800-1805 would no longer be allowed today. It was, of course, an amusing ‘interpretation’ of a ‘politically correct society, and was extremely well done. Everyone agreed that the ‘double act’ worked and certainly kept us all entertained.
Our President followed Andy with some words of thanks for all that had attended the dinner, he also wanted to add some special thanks to the committee members for organising the event, which had been such a success.
Then it was time for the raffle. Our guest of honour was asked to draw the first ticket; the main prize (the print of Graham Holt’s Sea Fury) went to our Chairman, Bill Small, but most of those attending came away with something from the raffle (including the Air Commodore, who won a 2014 RNA Diary — of which he was really impressed with).
After the raffle, our ‘serving members’ of the RNA got together and posed for a quick photo; when they retire, we hope we have shown that the RNA proves that the ‘fun’ does not stop when you enter ‘civvy street’.
We had one last duty to perform before shipmates headed off home. A cheque was presented to Andy Duthie, who agreed to receive it on behalf of our Branch’s chosen charity for 2013, the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity. This year, our branch has raised over £700 for charities, which included £403.22 for the RN&RMC.
Yet again, the annual Trafalgar Night dinner was deemed a great success, made all the better by some good food, good banter, plenty to drink, but most important of all, by the company of our shipmates and guests. Thank you shipmates, see you again next year.
Click on the first image in this gallery to view a selection of photographs taken during the Annual Trafalgar Night Dinner.