The years 2012 and 2013 have seen significant milestones in the history of RAF Halton. First we commemorated 90 years since the inauguration of Trenchard’s scheme for training Apprentices. In this Triennial year we have the celebration of a centenary of flying at Halton and in May there was a Service in St George’s Church to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of its consecration (reported separately on this web site). As recorded in earlier issues of “The Haltonian”, the 96th was very much involved in both the consecration of St George’s in 1963 and the anniversary earlier this year.
This Triennial also saw the 96th Entry marking 50 years since Graduation. The celebrations began with the customary “meet and greet” at the Holiday Inn at High Wycombe on the Friday night. During the evening we were pleased by the arrival of Tim Eyles who had previously informed us that he would be unable to attend the Reunion. However, his wife arranged with Merv for him to turn up briefly on the Friday to enjoy a few hours of “lamp-swinging”. This is proof that Trenchard Brat wives are not just pretty faces. Tim concluded his brief attendance with a faultless but very loud rendition of “Lights Out” on the bugle (if anyone has a better picture than that in the album it would be appreciated). His efforts were rewarded with a round of applause from his comrades, looks of bewilderment from the “civilians” in the lounge and amazement from the bar staff.
On Saturday we all travelled to Halton to meet up with those who had chosen not to include Friday in their plans. The Triennial lived up to all of its promise based on previous events and the Halton Apprentice Association Committee (Pete Brown among them) once again deserve our sincere gratitude for their efforts.
There was a surprise for us when we were joined by one of our number, John (Taff) Rouse. John is severely incapacitated by illness and his dementia prevents him from enjoying much communication with others. His family arranged for him to take part in the Sunset Ceremony and it was pleasing to see his reactions when surrounded by his fellow 96ers. He showed definite signs of recognition and hopefully he enjoyed the day.
It was not only fellow Entry members who were met with, but former schoolmates, friends from other Entries, and ex Brats with whom we had served. All were greeted with enthusiasm. It is interesting to consider that Trenchard Brats were networking long before the arrival of Facebook and Twitter.
As ladies are not permitted at the Triennial they have to entertain themselves for the day and a report of some of their activities is given alongside their photo album above.
Back at the hotel we were piped in by our very own Pipe Major, Stan John, following which we enjoyed a 3 course meal and, for some, energetic gyrating on the dance floor. Altogether some 44 members and 39 partners attended the Reunion, proof that there is still a strong membership.
At the 2010 Reunion the Entry produced “The Book”, a collection of the individual accounts of our life at Halton fifty years before. It was decided then to try for something similar for 2013 to show the varied careers and life experiences after Graduation and up to this date. This was achieved and with it the 96th entered the age of the “e-book”. This latest literary masterpiece is in downloadable format on the Entry web site and is called “And Then...”. A copy on CD was deposited at the Museum to rest alongside Volume 1 presented to them in hard copy 3 years ago.
All too soon the weekend came to an end and we made our farewells to depart whence we had come – as far afield as Canada, France, Cyprus, Antigua and even Wales and Scotland!
We owe a debt of gratitude to Rob & Jude Honnor (who did make it to the celebrations this year) for maintaining the Entry web site, an invaluable method for keeping in touch and announcing Reunions. The Reunion would not have taken place without the hard work and dedication of Gordon & Ann Sherratt, and Merv & Pat Kelly to whom we extend our gratitude. Gordon intends to stand down from the ‘committee’ now and Merv is also looking to hand over his baton. They have been a great team over the years and will be a hard act to follow. Volunteers to attempt this are welcome.
As ladies are not allowed at the Triennial they are expected to self organise on the Saturday.
Visiting Waddesdon Manor (pictured left) are Ann Griffiths, Rose Swaisland, Sharon Woodland, Joelle Flageole (Baldwin), Jill Castle and Jude Honnor.
Jan Spence and Pat Baldry visited Hughendon House.
Pat Kelly, Anne Sherratt and Linda Vincent arranged the flowers for the evening tables then went out to West Wycombe Caves with Maureen Mackie for lunch.
Others devoted the time to retail therapy, walking or just relaxing in the hotel.
We have attempted to identify all our ladies as far as possible in the photo albums. If you are not named its not because our lists are not fully up to date yet, just a memory problem with the web master being unable to remember who belongs to who.