Huntingdon & District Branch: Annual Dinner, 24 November 2012

On Saturday 24th November 2012, shipmates of Huntingdon & District Branch gathered at the Priory, the Masonic Lodge at Huntingdon, for their annual dinner.

The Priory, Huntingdon’s Masonic Lodge

The main dining room was decorated with naval ensigns and bunting, a table draped with the RNA flag had the first prizes laid out (more were to arrive), and the bar was opened for the arrival of our shipmates and guests.

The dining room laid out for the evening
The ‘prizes’ table, decorated with the RNA Flag

Shipmates and their guests began arriving at 1900, this was to allow time for a social chat, and a couple of drinks before dinner.

The President, Graham Holt (far right) and Social Secretary, Hilary Meers (far left) entertain guests

The President, Graham Holt, welcomed shipmates and their guests as they arrived at the lodge. Always a good time to spin a few ‘dits’ of past-times in the Royal Navy.

By 1915, shipmates and their guests had arrived at the bar

In total, we had 34 shipmates and guests, a good number for a small branch.

The Hon. Secretary and his guests

Once everyone was accounted for, Shipmate Ben Dear piped ‘Hands to Dinner’, complete with ‘tin hat’, much to the amusement of everyone.

Shipmate Ben Dear pipes ‘Hands to Dinner’

With ‘dinner’ called, shipmates made their way to the dining room. Our Padre could not attend the dinner due to a service at Ely, therefore, the President, Graham Holt said Grace before we ate.

President, Graham Holt stands in for the Padre

As the annual dinner is usually held on the anniversary of Trafalgar, we kept with the traditional starter of ham and pea soup, followed by a main course of roast beef with all the trimmings; an apple pie and cream dessert came next before the meal was finished off with a cheese board. After coffee, the Chairman, Bill Small, called shipmates to stand for the Loyal Toast.

Next, the President reminded everyone that the annual dinner usually coincides with the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, so, in respect of Lord Nelson, we would still continue with the branch tradition and have the Toast to the Immortal Memory. On completion of this, the President introduced the ‘guest speaker’, this year it would be the Hon. Secretary who would give it (due to him being ‘volunteered’ by the Social Secretary, Hilary Meers).

The Hon. Secretary, Karl Webb, gave the after dinner speech

The Hon. Secretary thanked the President for his introduction, and then stated that as we had ‘missed’ the anniversary of Trafalgar, he had looked at other significant events around this date. The Battle of Taranto had taken place on the nights of 11/12 November 1940. Tow years ago to the day, the last Harrier GR9s flew from the deck of HMS Ark Royal for the last time. However, Karl had chosen a significant battle that had taken place 46 years prior to Trafalgar, and has been cited as the most significant event of the era; he spoke of Admiral Sir Edward Hawke (later Lord Hawke) and the Battle of Quiberon Bay, which took place on the 20th November, 1759.

After the Hon. Secretary’s discussion (a follow up paper will be produced in the near future, and published to this site), shipmates had time to sup a few more drinks before the raffle would take place.

Shipmates take a break while raffle tickets are sold

And of course, there was time for the Hon. Secretary to go and take a few shots of our shipmates and guests (note, only a selection of shots are shown here).

Shipmates at the annual dinner smile for the camera
I think we can say that ‘everyone’ was enjoying the evening!
…special thanks to our Treasurer, Dick Knowles, he organised this event

Once all the raffle tickets had been sold, it was time for the Hon. Secretary to draw the first ticket. With the amount of prizes brought in by our members, we knew it could take a while. But, everyone was more than happy with their prizes, including the President, who ‘won’ a make-over kit!

The Hon. Secretary draws the first ticket
Shipmates Geoff and Marion Twigden make a great ‘double act’ during the draw
…even shipmate Dick ‘I never win the raffle’ Bacon won something to take home
The President and his ‘prize’

And so, with the raffle over, there was a little time to finish off our drinks, a great night was had by all. We shall all look forward to next year when we can do it all over again.

The Hon, Secretary, President, and Chairman at the end of the evening

A successful evening, made possible by the hard work of our Treasurer, Dick Knowles, and of course, by all our shipmates and guests in making it a special night. Well done all.