Our 1999 Reunion - Jackie Hurley reports
Friday 3rd. The 1999 annual reunion was at Lord Mayor Treloar College in Alton, Hants. for the second year running, giving Krefeld a reprieve from the onslaught of ex 16 Signal Regiment members.
After the usual, last minute ‘short cut’ I arrived at the College to the strains of REME Harper in full voice entertaining the troops. (no change starting the party early then!) He was assisting the entertainer, Peter Brennan a professional singer/guitarist, hired for the evening, it was a late but good start to the week-end.
Saturday 4th. More members began arriving and the final total over the weekend was 52, not bad and increases with new faces each year - there are now 209 contacts on the list. Bridget Wilson (nee Smith) who had kept her one and only photo from 16 Sigs, finally had the names of all those on it within minutes of passing it round. Jim Brooks and Barrie Clerehugh came from Germany but only after watching their first boat sail into the sunset. (At least we think that’s what Jim said, still more Scots than the Whisky). Ray (Ginge) and Pat Lyons (nee Orris) made their mammoth journey from South Africa, fitting the reunion into their busy schedule. - Hope the video turned out OK, mine didn’t. Winston (Rocky) Rock, another new face this year, who spends 6 months in UK and 6 months in Barbados each year, now has lots of people wanting to visit him - wonder which part of the year? Nick and Denise Nicholas (nee Macrae), discovered Nick had worked with Chris Cottam for a while but never actually came across each other. By the way Nick, John Farrell said he will share his LS & GC with you - for a fee! The weather was superb for the whole weekend and so with Pete Weedon placed on duty to welcome arrivals during Saturday - Frank and Mrs Webber, Tom and Rose Bean, Lorraine Ward (nee Laurie Torrie) and many others - the rest of the party set off for town or new watering holes.
Tom Thornton whose sense of humour has not diminished held court at the White Hart and soon had everyone crying into their beer. Tom was a Funeral Director at some stage in his 16 Sigs after-life and the pictures conjured up by him were hilarious.
In the evening, the now usual scramble for photo’s occurred, some muttered about valuable drinking time lost! Perhaps with so many attending, we should go for group photograph only.
After the photo-call, we were assembled away from the dining room and told the Master of Signals had arrived to say a few words. Shock, horror, yet more drinking time lost! When on centre stage steps Tom Thornton who proceeded to treat us to half-an-hour of great entertainment. We weren’t quite sure if he’d adapted his jokes to personalities or if the stories were really true. Some tales had been heard in the Pub that afternoon but were still hilarious second time around, although you forgot to re-tell the one about the knotted string Tom!
As we sat down for our evening meal, a disturbance took place as a policeman chased a thief round the dining room. All in weekends work for Jan Radford (the policeman in shorts and flashing helmet) and REME Harper (A pirate with one leg and a parrot!) What will they come with next year, their double act is fast becoming a feature at reunions. Who needs paid entertainment when, as Tom Thornton had earlier noted, while most units had at least one ‘character’, 16 Sigs seemed to be full of them.
The evening went very well with a 60s disco, 60’s quiz (devised by Lorraine Ward and John Farrell) lots of laughter and swallowing of the grape juice. Elizabeth Gibb (nee Evans) and Anne Ferrier (nee Fossett) along with a few others rekindled memories of dancing round their handbags, though weren’t the original bags Army issue?! (I couldn’t afford a ‘civvy’ one after paying for John F’s beer)
Sunday 5th. Recovery rates after a good night is a little slower these days but the AGM finally took place prior to everyone making their way home.
The sad note to this year’s reunion, was to hear of the death of Bill Schofield earlier in the year and Dick Burt who lost his battle to cancer just the week before our reunion weekend. Dick and Audrey Grainge (nee Branbrook) along with REME Harper attended Dick Burt’s funeral to represent the reunion group.
The staff at the College had once again made our weekend successful and so to show our gratitude, a collection was taken and placed in a beer-mug, meanwhile any subscriptions being paid were also collected in a beer-mug. In steps Evelyn Radford (nee Bertie) to present a beer-mug of money to staff - luckily it was realised fairly quickly that the staff had disappeared with the subs. Evelyn denied she was confused due to a hangover!
Thanks to Ricky Gordon and his family for yet another great weekend and of course to Chris Bartlett for all the organisation, a hard task but much appreciated.
Chris is hoping - dependant on commitments for both 7 and 16 Signal Regts - to hold the next reunion in Krefeld, looking at around September 2000. Keep a space in your busy schedules for a confirmation of the date, as the attendance builds there may be some limit on numbers.
Have a good year, keep in contact and lets look forward to our 5th reunion but the first of many in the new millennium.
1996 Reunion (Southend)
1997 Reunion (Rheindahlen
1998 Reunion (Holybourne)
1999 Reunion (Alton)
2000 Reunion (Rheindahlen)
2001 Reunion (Skegness)