Huntingdon & District: Annual Trafalgar Night Dinner, 26th October 2013

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).

The President, Graham Holt, gives a background of the print 'First Solo'
The President, Graham Holt, gives a background of the print ‘First Solo’

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.

Branch President, Graham Holt, and Mr Barry Limbrick with 'First Solo'
Branch President, Graham Holt, and Mr Barry Limbrick with ‘First Solo’

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.

Shipmate Ben Dear pipes 'Hands to Dinner'
Shipmate Ben Dear pipes ‘Hands to Dinner’

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.

Plenty of Raffle Prizes
Plenty of Raffle Prizes

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.

The Trafalgar Display and photograph of our Patron, and the letters from Buckingham Palace
The Trafalgar Display and photograph of our Patron, and the letters from Buckingham Palace

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.

Our guest of honour, Lt Cdr Andy Duthie delivers an after-dinner speech
Our guest of honour, Lt Cdr Andy Duthie delivers an after-dinner speech

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.

...with the help of 'Hardy', aka Kev Brettle
…with the help of ‘Hardy’, aka Kev Brettle

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.

Our President addresses all shipmates and guests
Our President addresses all shipmates and guests

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).

S/M Marion Twigden asks Andy Duthie to draw the first of the raffle tickets
S/M Marion Twigden asks Andy Duthie to draw the first of the raffle tickets

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’.

Our serving guests, Kev Brettle, Andy Duthie, and James Langley
Our serving guests, Kev Brettle, Andy Duthie, and James Langley

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.

The cheque for the RN&RMC (l-r Kev Brettle, Pete Aston, Karl Webb, Andy Duthie, and James Langley)
The cheque for the RN&RMC (l-r Kev Brettle, Pete Aston, Karl Webb, Andy Duthie, and James Langley)

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.

Gallery

Click on the first image in this gallery to view a selection of photographs taken during the Annual Trafalgar Night Dinner.

The dining hall ready for the night meal Tables are of course named after Nelson's fleet The tables are decorated with Raffle Prizes and a Trafalgar Display Graham Holt and Barry Limbrick show 'First Solo' to our guests
Always time for a drink before dinner! Get the wets in shipmates Pete aston and Kev Brettle catch up Shipmates and guests prepare for the evening's  dinner
Ben offers to hand over the piping duties to Andy Duthie ...another new hat Ben? Now that will get everyone's attention! Andy entertains us
At least the Chairman is impressed Kev was press-ganged into helping out Keith Ridley addresses the Branch The Creans enjoy Andy's speech
Andy and Geoff mull over a beer St Neots Branch are also in attendance Maureen Ridley taking charge of Keith! The raffle is going down well
Eagerly awaiting the next ticket The RN talk tactics! And the highlight, our fundraising efforts will go to the RN&RMC