CONDUCTORS' DAY AND PARCHMENT CEREMONY 2006
By Dennis Bradley
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It is getting more difficult each year to find new phrases to describe Snr Cdr Dave Patterson's excellent organisational skills relating to the Annual Conductors' Day and Parchment Ceremony. This year's extravaganza held on 5th and 6th June at the HQ and Central Sgts Mess, Deepcut, was no exception and we are once again grateful to Brigadier J. Little OBE ADC MBA FICDDS, the Director RLC for extending the hospitality of the RLCorps to retired and former commissioned Conductors, their ladies' and guests.
On reflection it is clear this year's celebrations played host to a number of first timers. Starting with the gathering of the clan at the Annual Conductors' Reunion Dinner Night, were, for the first time, not one but four red tabs and their ladies joined us for dinner, namely, Maj Gen (Peter) Chambers CB MBE, Brig (Jeff) Little OBE ADC, Col (Mike) Russell and Col (Mark) Baker. The food, service and ambience of the Mess were again at their best and 75 friends sat down to dinner. It was especially good to see one particular retired RAOC Conductor resplendent in his Mess Kit (who proved me wrong in managing to lose more than a stone in weight in the last year to be able to get into it - well done, Bob !)
During dinner music was provided by an ensemble from the RLC Band and it was nice to witness tradition being upheld where some people demonstrated allegiance to their Corps by standing during the playing of the respective Corps Marches.
After dinner we were further entertained by members of the RLC Corps of Drums
who gave a fantastic performance of their now legendary 'Light Show' and for
many attending this was yet another first. The number of retired Conductors
receiving parchments was down on previous years but it is hoped that the numbers
will increase again in 2007.
In keeping with tradition The Director RLC presented parchments to Thomas Charles Woods, and David R Harris (incidentally Dave had flown in from Oman that morning especially for the occasion; well done, Dave, a great effort)
For the first time a parchment was presented posthumously for the late William Henry Edwin Hetherington (appointed Conductor sometime in the 1940s) and was received by his son, John, which was acknowledged by much acclaim. A parchment was also made available to Kevin James Hartley who was unable to join us at Deepcut through illness. Conductor Patterson plans to take this to him soon.
Following the presentations the guests made their way to the Medal Room to meet friends old and new and to conclude the evening in the time honoured manner 'back to the bar'.
The next day
started with another first, for it was the first time that the senior WOs
from all three services met up at Deepcut. After the group photograph
another first when we were delighted to welcome HRH The Duke of Gloucester
who was attending the Parchment Ceremony for the first time and who had very
kindly given up his time and agreed to come to Deepcut to present parchments
to the new RLC Conductors. Names of the recipients were:
- WO1 (Cdr) Brian W Buckingham, Movement Controller, Joint Force HQ, Northwood
- WO1 (Cdr) (Mrs) Lou A Conibear, MBE, Movement Controller, 17 Port & Maritime Regt
- WO1 (Cdr) Mark A Nolan, Supplier, HQ Northern Ireland
- WO1 (Cdr) Phil R Norris, Supplier, 25 Trg Support Regt
- WO1 (Cdr) Graham A Ritchie, Driver, HQ 5th Division
- WO1 (Cdr) Guy M Thewlis, Chef, HQ 16 Air Assault Bde
What a great pleasure it was to see Conductor Conibear amongst the recipients who was only the second female to be appointed but the first to receive a parchment at the formal group presentations. The first female Conductor RLC was Dawn Parkin appointed in 1995 who is still serving in the rank of Major.
With the formal presentation of parchments completed HRH The Duke of Gloucester was invited to attend a commemorative photograph with serving Corps personalities and serving RLC Conductors.
During his stay he was introduced to all those present and had a few words to say to them all individually as he did to the Mess staff and Phase 2 Chef recruits, who had very splendidly provided our a-la-carte lunch under field conditions. He also viewed and showed a great interest in an exhibition of Conductor memorabilia and new Conductor merchandise, namely, blazer badge, silver lapel brooch, large coloured framed badge of appointment, the same with history of the appointment and a personalized Conductors ceramic mug. Plans are in hand to have a catalogue of items for sale placed on this web site in the near future. A very special thank you must go to Ssgt Shaun Featherstone from the Army School of Ammunition who kindly added to the display by bringing along a selection of Conductors badges and clothing going back to the late 1800s.
Early afternoon saw the start of the informal activities when we were bussed
to the WOs, Senior Ratings and Senior NCOs Mess at HMS Nelson, Portsmouth.
On arrival we assembled in the Mess for refreshments and were split into
two groups. Each group enjoying a private tour of HMS Victory and a bespoke
Lungs full of fresh sea air it was back to the Senior Ratings Mess for a hot meal, liquid refreshment and the now firmly established raffle.
Arriving back at Deepcut on the stroke of midnight the weary ones retired for the night whilst others enjoyed a late supper of what was aptly described by our Webmaster as - "butties and tea - marvelous"' !!
New to this year's festivities was a 'roving photographer' who was popping up all over the place! The fruits of his labours can be viewed via the links on the home page of this web site
Fond farewells at breakfast with the unanimous decision that a thoroughly great time had been enjoyed by all, and our heartfelt thanks to Dave and Steph' for yet again a great reunion and a truly wonderful 2 days at Deepcut.
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