This year's bonanza was the fifth annual event of combined serving and retired appointment holders and was centred at the usual venue the Headquarters & Central Sgts' Mess, Deepcut over the period 31st May and 2nd June.
A couple of weeks earlier I had exchanged emails with fellow retired Conductor
and had commented on the upgrading to a three day event. In his reply he thought
there would soon be a Conductors Week next ! (Ah', you wish, Jim, you wish))
In keeping with now established tradition the Director RLC, Brigadier J Little OBE ADC MBE FICDDS, very kindly extended the Corps hospitality to RAOC and RLC retired Conductors.
Events began with a Regimental Dinner Night at which the Guests of Honour were Brigadier Richard Rook CBE, Deputy Representative Colonel Commandant, Brigadier Jeoff & Sally Little, Director Royal Logistic Corps, Colonel Mark & Jane Baker, Regimental Colonel, and Warrant Officer Class 1 Paul & Christine Davies, Corps Regimental Sergeant Major. 71 serving and retired service personnel, their ladies and other guests, including those from the Orkneys in the north to the Isle of Wight in the south (a remarkable attendance) were treated to an excellent meal within the usual ambience of the Sgts Mess.
After dinner Brigadiers Rook and Little shared the honours of presenting parchments to 5 retired RAOC Conductors, namely:
Daniel Roberts appointed 1 June 1944 (Served in Burma)
Dai Davies MBE appointed 3 February 1945 (a Dunkirk Veteran)
Richard Charles Fifield appointed 14 May 1969
John Horbury appointed 1 April 1973
Kevin Hartley appointed 1 June 1984
A short service and post service history was given for each recipient by the Senior Conductor David Patterson and received by all with acclaim.
Following the presentations we all retired to the Medal Room where many friendships were renewed and created.
Friday's main and formal function was the presentation of parchments to the newly appointed Conductors by The Sovereign's Representative The Lord Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight, Major General M S White CB CBE JP.
Conductors receiving their parchments were:
Mark Abbis Master Chef HQ BFC
Mathew J. Lee Navigator 17 Port and Maritime Regt RLC
Mark Normanton Master Chef HQ Def Food Svcs Sch
Marty Raine Pet Op HQ Land Command
Nigel Vaughan Sup Con HQ Joint Helicopter Command
It was particularly pleasing having the General making the presentations as he was Deputy Colonel Commandant 2004/2005 and in his address to the assemblage it was clear that he held the appointment of Conductor in very high regard. The General then met Mess Staff and trainee Chefs from 25 Training Regt RLC who had, as usual, produced an excellent lunch under field conditions. Our VIP took part in commemorative photographs and afterwards viewed Conductor memorabilia including Conductors Branch RLC Association items and early RAOC Conductors uniforms, badges and other military ephemera loaned and presented, from his personal collection, by Ssgt Shaun Featherstone from the Army School of Ammunition.
Small groups had assembled which the General visited and spoke to individuals in each. In one group our Web Master, retired Conductor (RLC) Mike Coyle, took the opportunity to establish useful connections between the Isle of Wight and Conductors web sites.
After the departure of General White we visited 17 Port & Maritime Regt RLC at Marchwood where we were welcomed by Conductor Lou Conibear, MBE, who explained the afternoon's programme, and afterwards by the Commanding Officer. Presentations on the unit, past and present, by the Unit Historian and a serving Major of the US Army followed. Lou escorted us to the railway boarding platform for a short train journey to the waterside where we enjoyed a cruise around the harbour in a Ramped Craft Logistic (RCL) of the Regiment with visits to the bridge and a display of landing techniques. A most enjoyable evening meal was taken al-fresco at the Marchwood Sgts' Mess before returning to Deepcut. Thank you, Lou, for organising such a great visit.
A very early breakfast on Saturday was the prelude of our visit to Horse Guards to watch a rehearsal of The Queen's Birthday parade. Our excellent shady seats adding much to the enjoyment of the occasion.
Part two of Saturday's day out was spent at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea where much pleasure was had meeting and reminiscing with some of the Pensioners. Sorry, chaps, advance reservations were not being taken. It was made clear to the ladies that they were not allowed to take their new friends home with them !! However, ladies should be beware, one of our group was propositioned by one of the In-Pensioners, a 'frisky 60', - you should be so lucky A……..
The final part of our tour was to Hampton Court where a very leisurely time was spent at this ancient Royal Palace.
Back to the Mess for an excellent barbecue followed by the ever-popular raffle of items typical of the day, which brought to an end another most successful gathering of like-minded people. We all look forward to meeting up again in 2008.
In conclusion, as always, very special thanks must be recorded to Conductor David Patterson and his wife Steph' for once again putting together such a varied and enjoyable programme.
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2006 Write Up