1998 Reunion Holybourne, 4-6 September

Jackie Farrell (Nee Hurley) reports

The 1998 reunion was held on the 4th to the 6th September at the Lord Mayor College I Holybourne, Hampshire, courtesy of Ricky Gordon and organised by both him and Chris Bartlett. Most members were able to arrive on Friday, the bar duly opened and we settled in for a good weekend. After an evening meal we set off for the localR.B.L. Club in Holybourne where we tried to boost their bar profits. The raffle was interesting with prizes of meat! No one in our party won so much as a pound of sausages. Audrey Grainge (nee Bradbrook) was devastated there was no bingo. After attempting the waltz and tango we weaved our way back to the college and yes the bar opened again, but this time we settled down to tell old ‘war’ stories.

Arthur (Piggy) Paxton and Dave (Punchy) Ayres believe they were persecuted and misunderstood at 16 Signal Regiment, we couldn’t imagine why, they were highly regarded P.T.I.’s who regularly held sing-a-longs for the troop and we were given a few renditions that night. Is it rapturous or raucus that comes to mind? Some made it to breakfast on Saturday morning, the remainder a little later for brunch and as the food was so good, some made it to both. While most went off to visit Winchester, the last of the members arrived and time was spent renewing old friendships and checking out the photo’s (funny really, no-one even remembers owning a camera at 16). More new faces this year, some of which hadn’t been seen for almost 30 years and initially there was glazed looks till the mist lifted, or was it to do with the fact that most of us now had to search out our specs first? Judy Cottam (nee Watson) well known for her ‘fashionable’ black framed glasses in the 60’s, cheated and wore contact lenses.

Saturday evening started with a photo-call which would have put the paparazzi to shame, a group photo, Sqn photo’s, the 4 TRC shifts A,B,C and D. We gave up when ‘Piggy’ Paxton called for a photo of ‘Cell 5’ occupants and he was the only one to admit to it. The chefs and catering staff produced a great meal and then we bopped the night away to a 60’s disco. Jan Radford and Gordon (REME) Harper changed into their evening frocks which they had purchased from a charity shop in Winchester, wives Evelyn and Sue having long forgotten about embarrassment, took no notice. REME had fallen off a ‘bucking bronco’ at the Krefeld reunion, no bronco in Holybourne so he just fell off the floor! But in case of injury we always have a few nurses on hand, Judy Cottam and Noreen Dixon (nee Byrne) to name just two this year. Jim (Jock) Brooks laughed and chatted all night, pity not many understood him, even after years of living in Germany his Scottish accent still gets stronger each year. It was a great evening and even though our bodies couldn’t keep up the pace of the 60’s the minds were still active.

Stories of 16 Sigs in the 60’s were sought for this report, but by Sunday morning they were mostly illegible or unprintable, anyway a few of the less libellous ones – Chris ‘Bud’ Abbott obtained a fridge from a RAF Rugby Club for thr price of a crate of beer, only to lose it 24 hours later when they claimed it was stolen. Brian Cummings (MBE) pinched a box of condoms from the Med Centre but didn’t know what to do with them! (Obviously didn’t get his MBE for that, congratulations by the way.) Audrey and Dick Grainge complained they never got to snog in the bin area as Chris and Judy Cottam were always there first. Mike Troop used to lay bets as to which pocket Bill Higgs would take his hanky from (the mind boggles). Lorrie Vula (sadly very recently deceased) threw the javelin only to stab someone in the backside.

Sunday was the AGM and amongst items discussed, was the 1999 re-union which it is hoped will be held in Germany, sometime in September, details to follow. John Farrell reported the state of our finances and has agreed to keep the fees at £10 per address. Another successful reunion, this being the third. People came from all over the UK, (Trev Davies and Tom Watt having to drive from the North of Scotland), Germany and even Nigeria (Ray ‘Ginge’ and Pat Lyons – nee Orris). Ian Buckley didn’t have to travel from Hong Kong this time – his Army service completed (sorry we couldn’t find anyone to clean your shoes colonel!). Even with all the technicians present, Alan Lafferty, John Turvey amongst others, no-one could get the previous evenings video to run on the TV, perhaps it was for the best. Dick Burt couldn’t attend this year but we toasted his health and wish him a speedy recovery.

Thanks to Ricky Gordon and family for a brilliant weekend and we now look forward to Germany 1999.

1996 Reunion (Southend)
1997 Reunion  (Rheindahlen
1998 Reunion (Holybourne)
1999 Reunion (Alton)
2000 Reunion (Rheindahlen)
2001 Reunion (Skegness)