New place, new faces, so the saying goes. However, few new faces but plenty of the usual retired Conductors who regularly support this event.
This year’s festivities were held at the WOs and Sgts’ Mess, Andover Station over the period 11th 12th June and our grateful thanks go to WO1 (GSM) Tony McMullan, RLC for very kindly extending the hospitality of the Mess for our visit.
Old soldiers were astonished at the lavish double-roomed , superbly furnished en-suite transit accommodation. Several were heard to mutter that things were not like this when we were in the army ! Quite so, gentlemen, things have certainly have changed and so much for the better.
The change of venue was partly decided as a result of the lack of accommodation at the Blackdown Mess which in previous years has meant some attendees being spread over several locations. This year we were all accommodated under one roof – a much happier situation.
As well as a change of venue there was also a change in the composition of the event. The usual three day event was reduced to two due, in some part, to a withdrawal of funding. Day one started in the afternoon with the Parchment Ceremony and the ‘Conductors Dissertation’ was presented by Capt Donna Greaves from HQ DRLC. Our VIP was Major General (Retired) M.D. Wood, CBE, President of the Conductors Branch of the RLC Association. This year saw the lowest number of newly appointed Conductors at these ceremonies, namely
WO 1 (Cdr) S Collins (formerly RAOC)
Supplier, currently based at HQ DRLC
Staff Assistant Equipment Tables
WO1 (Cdr) D Garwood (formerly ACC)
Chef. Command Food Services Warrant Officer, Land Forces, Wilton
WO1 (Cdr)C McClure (formerly 1st Bn The Kings Own Scottish Borderers)
Supplier, BOWO, HQ 52 Infantry Brigade
And WO1 (Cdr) J Hutchinson (formerly Parachute Regiment and RAOC)
Ammunition Technician, currently SAT Joint Force EOD Group
who was unable to attend due to operational commitments on Op HERRICK
(This low number may be due to the fact that the maximum number of
serving Conductors is restricted to 8(eight)
After making the presentations General Wood spoke very complimentary on the appointment of Conductor and said what a pleasure and honour it had been when he was invited to be the President of the Conductors Branch and to attend this year’s Ceremony. Flowers were presented to the ladies of the newly appointed Conductors. Sadly and disappointingly, for the first time, there were no former Conductors receiving parchments.
Photographs were taken in the splendid Mess gardens after which the General spoke to individual groups of attendees and viewed Conductors Memorabillia. We were also pleased to have with us the new RLC Regimental Colonel. Colonel P J McCall BA,psc who also made himself known to the groups.
In the evening we had our usual Regimental Dinner Night at which 53 guests sat down in our new surroundings. An excellent menu and we were looked after in fine style by the Mess Staff. Presentations were made to our former Senior Conductor, David Patterson, in recognition of his stirling foresight introducing the Conductors Days and Parchment Ceremony and of the 7 years during which he carried on the tradition, and his wife Steph’. And also to our new Senior Conductor Lou A Conibear,MBE. the event organiser, and to WO1 (GSM) Tony McMullan.
Another ‘first’ for the Conductors’ Day & Parchment Ceremony was the sponsorship from two haulage companies from the private sector and we were pleased to welcome representatives from both companies as guests to our festivities.
Day 2 was our day of leisure. In the morning we were coached to the Army Air Corps Museum of Flying where we enjoyed an excellent presentation on the history of the AAC and afterwards had a spellbinding tour of the many exhibits. After lunch ,taken in the grounds of the museum, we continued on to Salisbury where our options were town shopping or a visit to the magnificent cathedral. The majority of our party enjoyed a guided tour of the cathedral and its many splendid exhibits including the stunning Chapter House where we were able to view one of only three remaining original copies of the Magna Carta beautifully written in Latin on vellum. There were no reports of any of our party ascending the 332 steps to the top of the tallest medial spire in Europe!
After tea and a quick wash and brush up we assembled in the bar where we organised ourselves into groups for a most mind searching quiz based on many varied subjects, put together by Lou who had probably been working on this since Easter. A very happy and entertaining evening
Two days only but a full and varied programme enjoyed by all
and great to meet up with old friends again and to make some new ones. As
usual can’t wait for next year’s extravaganza.
Once again, many thanks to Lou and other Committee Members for a superb 2009 Conductors Day & Parchment Ceremony.
Afternote. There must be many former Conductors who have not yet received parchments or attended one of these extravaganzas and it cannot be stressed what wonderful occasions these are. Please think about joining us next year and it would also be nice to see again some of the past attendees whom we have not seen for some time. What about the former RAOC Conductors who lined the route to the Train Naming Ceremony at Bicester in 1978 ?
Dennis with Lou & Linda