For me the reunion was Brill. |
The new guys brought different aspects to the event. Fresh emotions, real and unfettered by too much protocol. A place to feel a little more relaxed about a VERY touchy subject for some. Just to be in the presence of the veterans was rewarding enough, but to share their memories with us face to face is priceless for those of us who have a strong belief that they are truly the unsung heroes who, as kids, smacked Hitler in the face. Not gonna rant on about that though!

The reunion. There has been some confusion as to how it should be staged. Formal or more relaxed.
Formal is the way it has always been, and I know some of the veterans like that coz its RAF style, but even some of the vets are now realizing that because their numbers are dwindling, and the people who make this pagentry happen are not capable any more, then things will change. And I believe it is changing for the better.
NOBODY wants to upset these veterans. It would be tragic if they decided to call it a day because it ain't what it used to be. Sooo it has to have an x factor that will keep them interested, and I think Chris has nailed it.

New families, new stories, new people who always wished they could know more. Chris is single handedly putting these people in touch with each other, and to see it happen is amazing.
The reunion is the vehicle that we get on for an amazing journey back in time. A time when boys signed up to do WHATEVER its country asked of them to protect our island. They were graded and grilled and put into the jobs they were capable of. MOST of the volunteers who wanted to serve in the RAF failed at the entrance exam. Only the bright lads got through.
I'm ranting again. You will have to excuse me. I write this at the end of the day that is the anniversary of my dads brothers demise in Bomber Command. I'm on a camp site half a mile from one of his training bases, sat on my own, bourbon for company.

Back to the thoughts about the reunion. Having said new people have to be included NOT excluded, I have say the seating plan REALLY needs to be worked out well. As with everything that Tom Wingham has done for the reunions in the past, this, in my experience, was always thought through well.
He even asked if you had a preference as to who you would like to be near.

This years reunion (2012) was obviously organised by the local council, and as they don't know us as individuals, didn't know who should have been sat with who. Because of this some key men in the squadron were not on the 'top' table.
The food was brill but some of the company wasn't. I really do not wish to be rude about Pocklington and its council, but to be surrounded by disinterested councillors and EX mayors made me uncomfortable.
AND we had been told it was to be a buffet, so nobody suspected there would be a seating plan anyway.
Bottom line from me is that we have to arrange it ourselves, or at the very least be consulted about who sits where.
Harry Hughes talking to the bar!
Simon with his back to everyone and not really given a chance to introduce himself, AND tell folk how to pronounce his name, and his unique connection with Ceylon, who's name is part of the squadrons history. An ex mayoress who I had the misfortune to be sat across from was even witnessed smirking and tutting when the two minute silence over ran the next day.

Oops I'm at it again.

Brill points :
Glider club wonderful.
Food excellent, but unexpected.
As ever, the veterans were amazing.
Interaction with the new guys was refreshing and rewarding.
The use of the screen to show the Bomber Command documentary was a master stroke.
To use it to show crewmens photos was a highlight I cannot put into words. I think Tom Sayers reaction showed the delight it caused.
Being able to pass on my limited knowledge was also good for me.
Bad points:
Too many hangers on/freeloaders.
If there has to be a top table - the right people should be on it.
A list naming attendees should have been available beforehand.

My highlight personally has to be the sight of my long lost (but not forgotten) uncle Bob, smiling down on us all.

Well done Chris.