Huntingdon & District Branch’s Annual Trafalgar Day Dinner 2014

On Saturday 1st November 2014, shipmates from Huntingdon & District Branch held their annual Trafalgar Day Dinner. The day began with shipmates Karl Webb and Pete Aston decorating the dining hall and foyer for the evening meal. As darkness fell, shipmates and their guests arrived at the Priory, Huntingdon’s Masonic Lodge, for pre-dinner drinks.

Huntingdon's Masonic Lodge, the Priory
Huntingdon’s Masonic Lodge, the Priory

Guest of honour for the evening was the Mayor of Huntingdon, Councillor Bill Hensley. The Mayor regularly invites Huntingdon & District Branch members to community and civic events held in Huntingdon, the Town Hall, or the Market Square; this was the Branch members’ opportunity to show the Mayor how we celebrate important naval anniversaries and events.

The Mayor of Huntingdon and shipmates muster in the bar
The Mayor of Huntingdon and shipmates muster in the bar

Once all attendees had arrived, shipmate Ben Dear piped ‘Hands to Dinner’. Ben enjoys dressing for the occasion, this year he chose desert gear and anti-flash – well done Ben, always a great talking point.

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

Almost 40 members and guests, including shipmates from St Neots & District RNA, were at the dinner; this event is becoming a favourite gathering, but it is also likely to be the last at the Lodge (due to being on the market for sale).

Shipmates and guests await the first course
Shipmates and guests await the first course

After a three-course meal, it was time to start clearing the tables in preparation for the Loyal Toast. The bottle(s) of Pusser’s Rum were opened and placed inside the Rum Tub.

In preparation for the Loyal Toast
In preparation for the Loyal Toast

The ‘rum bosun’ for the evening was shipmate Andy Duthie, one of the Branch’s serving members. The Mayor was the first to receive his tot then shipmate Andy Duthie ensured that all ‘entitled’ ratings had their tot.

The Mayor is issued the first tot
The Mayor is issued the first tot

With everyone back at their seats, the Branch Chairman, shipmate Bill Small called for all to stand for the Loyal Toast.

The Chairman, shipmate Bill Small gives a few words before the Loyal Toast
The Chairman, shipmate Bill Small gives a few words before the Loyal Toast

As this was the Trafalgar Dinner, the Loyal Toast was followed by the Branch President, shipmate Graham Holt,  giving the Toast to the Immortal Memory.

The Mayor of Huntingdon was invited to speak to the Branch. He thanked everyone for their invitation and gave a presentation on Lt John Pasco, Admiral Nelson’s Signal Lieutenant. The Mayor said that Nelson’s famous signal ‘England Expects Every Man Will Do His Duty’ was to state ‘Confides’, but in signal flags, this would have had to be spelt out in full whereas ‘Expects’ was in the signal book as a 2 letter hoist.

Following the Mayor’s presentation, the Branch Secretary, shipmate Karl Webb, thanked the Mayor for his history lesson, and said he too would speak on an historical event after a few short words. The Hon. Secretary spoke of three anniversaries; shipmate Sally Armstrong had joined the WRNS 70 years ago, the Association celebrated its 60th Anniversary (marked with the Dedication of the Naval Services Memorial), and the Branch Chaplain, Reverend Andrew Milton was celebrating 30 years since he was Ordained.

The Secretary then spoke of the sad loss of shipmates Spike Milligan and Grove Dove this year and how they will be sorely missed; he mentioned the Social Secretary’s wedding (to the Hon. Sec), and that three of the serving members, Gavin Twigden, James Langley and Adam Game were on the promotions signal this year.

The Secretary’s ‘history lesson’ was the anniversary of the Battle of Coronel on 1st November 1914, this being the night the dinner was being held.

Once the after dinner speeches had concluded, it was time for the Social Secretary and shipmate Marion Twigden to start selling tickets for the raffle whilst shipmates had a chance to refill their glasses.

The Social Secretary goes 'Cap-in-hand' selling raffle tickets
The Social Secretary goes ‘Cap-in-hand’ selling raffle tickets

The Mayor was asked to draw the first ticket…

The Mayor calls out the first raffle number
The Mayor calls out the first raffle number

With so many prizes available, the draw did take some time, but an amazing £190 was raised towards our charities and to go towards funding to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of the Branch’s formation in 2016 (with a new Standard and Dedication Ceremony).

Plenty of prizes were won
Plenty of prizes were to be won

As the evening drew to a close, a number of guests and shipmates departed; the remainder headed back to the bar for a couple of nightcaps before bringing the evening to a close.

Shipmates returned to the bar
Shipmates returned to the bar

Another successful Branch Dinner, and as the picture below shows, a busy one for the Committee Members, who were able to relax a little and cool down after overseeing a busy evening (thanks go to shipmate Nigel Huxtable for sending out the RNA dickie bow nice and early; the cummerbund was made by the Hon. Sec using the RNA Blazer Badge and a plain cummerbund – works well don’t you think?).

The Hon. Secretary can relax at last
The Hon. Secretary can relax at last

So, to all our guests, especially the Mayor of Huntingdon, and to our shipmates, a big thank you from the Committee. We look forward to next year and many more dinners to come, wherever they may be held.

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To see more images from the Huntingdon & District Branch annual dinner, click on the first thumbnail below and scroll through the images.

 

The table for the prizes was already half full before the start of the evening The Rum Barrel is always a good talking point Some light reading as guests arrive Advertising the RNA
Photographs from past events and parades Probably our last annual dinner at the Priory The tables laid out for shipmates and guests The larger table setup worked better this year
The Mayor gets to know  the shipmates and guests Pre-dinner drinks at the bar Shipmates from St Neots & District Branch were also invited A number of serving personnel are also members of Huntingdon & District Branch
Once everyone had arrived... ...shipmate Ben Dear took post - this year's theme, combats and anti-flash Shipmate Ben Dear pipes 'Hands to Dinner' Shipmates and guests take their places in the dining hall
Shipmates and guests take their places in the dining hall Shipmates and guests take their places in the dining hall Shipmates and guests take their places in the dining hall Good to see the hall full
Everyone is looking forward to the meal The guest of honor, Cllr Bill Hensley, the Mayor of Huntingdon Shipmate Andy Duthie, Rum Bosun for the night The Mayor is issued the first tot of rum
Shipmates Hilary Meers-Webb and Victor Lucas DL collect their tot Brings back happy memories for some of our shipmates After the Loyal Toast, and the Toast to the Immortal Memory, shipmate Bill Small invites the Mayor to say a few words The Mayor gives a talk on Lt John Pasco, Nelson's Signal Lt
Time to buy raffle tickets Shipmate Nino Crean is keen to win Last call for tickets Shipmate Adam Game's cap has come in handy
The Mayor and shipmate Hilary Meers-Webb Shipmate Barbara Knowles with the mayor of Huntingdon  Eyes down, ready for the draw  The Mayor draws the first ticket
The Mayor reads out the first raffle ticket And the draw continues Shipmates Hilary Meers-Webb and Marion Twigden keep the draw going No, the Rum Tub is not included in the raffle
As a winner, Shipmate Sharon Welch-Duthie draws the next ticket Not many prizes left Down to the last prizes Shipmate Dick Bacon wins a new bag - suits him
The Mayor and shipmate Karl Webb Shipmate Andy Duthie hates waste Shipmates retire to the bar Shipmates from St Neots have had a great night
Shipmates Karl and Hilary Webb Soon be last orders at the bar Time to go The end of a great night