22, 23, and 24 May 1998
The 40th Anniversary Reunion Dinner (40th anniversary of our joining the RAF as Halton apprentices) was organised by Peter and Jan Ayee and was held on Sunday 24 May 1998. It was held at the Bellhouse Hotel, Beaconsfield where we held our graduation dinner. It was a very successful event, 41 members and their ladies (77 total) sat down to an excellent dinner, washed down with good company and lots of nostalgia. Colin and June Smith had travelled from Australia and Roy and Josie Scott had come from Singapore. For some, it had been the first ‘sighting’ since leaving Halton and for others it was a chance to renew friendships from previous Reunions – but for all it was a most enjoyable occasion.
For many of the attendees the Reunion started the day before, on the Saturday, when almost half took the opportunity of the bank holiday to make a weekend of it. As usual we all gathered in the bar in the evening to break the ice and get in some drinking practice for the main event the following day. Following an excellent breakfast on the Sunday, most did their own thing for the day before returning to welcome the remaining attendees in the afternoon and to get ready for the evening’s festivities.
We gathered for an hour in a private bar next to the reception area before dinner and at the appointed hour Keith Arnott piped us into the meal. It was a wonderful sight to see so many of our colleagues and their ladies in attendance. After a briefing by Peter Ayee, who had organised the Reunion, on the safari supper format (changing tables after each course) we got down to the serious business of eating , drinking and talking.
After dinner we danced the night away (well ’till midnight – hotel rules) to a disco and then were entertained splendidly (along with the rest of the hotel guests!) with a medley of tunes on the bagpipes by Keith Arnott to round off the evening. The hardy ones then retired to the resident’s bar to see who could keep the barman up the longest – I gave up at 4 in the morning and so don’t know who won!
After breakfast and a short 89th Entry Association meeting to discuss the way forward on a number of issues it was time to say our farewells to those who had become, by now, close friends.
It never ceases to amaze me how wonderfully well we all get on, including the ladies, at these occasions. Sadly, it will be nearly 18 months before our next Reunion in October 1999 which Steve Perrott has volunteered to organise somewhere near Cambridge.
Finally, a special thank you to Peter and Jan Ayee for organising the 40th Anniversary Reunion. We all appreciate the hard work and attention to detail which made this such a wonderful event.