The Final Reunion of HFTCA at Bury St. Edmunds in May 2008. Recollections by Audrey Harry

Fourteen members of the Association, some with wives and families, also 3 Friends of the Association; two sons and one daughter of three members sadly deceased, numbering 32 in all, arrived at the Suffolk Hotel at Bury St. Edmunds for the pleasant weekend of 16th May - 18th. For this event the Association is greatly indebted to Tony and Marion Cordy who so ably organised the bookings and facilities at the hotel making our stay as happy and harmonious as the one they laid on for us in May 2006. There was much bustle checking in but also relief that the hotel could accommodate us comfortably. It had changed management since the 2006 Reunion and we were all delighted to find that the food provided for us was even better than previously.
No group activities had been arranged but the usual format was adhered to. At the Friday evening Reception we were each handed a complimentary glass of wine in the Lark Suite at the instigation of Chairman Steve Lennox as he welcomed us. Then we dispersed to sit at small circular tables to dine informally together. It was lovely to meet tried and trusted friends and to find that they were soldiering on in spite of their advancing years. Jim Barnes, thoughtful as ever produced some cards for us to write to known people who would have come if they had not been taken unwell, even giving out commemorative pens of 100 years of Scouting to everyone, a cause he supports as strongly as the HFTCA. The prevailing mood was positive as everyone was determined to enjoy the weekend despite the winding up of the HFTCA in its original format. After an enjoyable meal people retired to their rooms for a good night's sleep.

On Saturday at the convivial Breakfast Buffet members gathered and were tempted to break with their normal healthy frugal fare as most succumbed to the delights of a full English breakfast. Wives, family and friends then went off on various self-devised excursions while members foregathered for the all important 10.30 a.m. committee meeting to discuss how to allocate the remaining assets of the Association. Matters having been decided by lunch time some lunched in the hotel and others took themselves off to see the delights of Bury, including the beautiful Abbey Gardens, apparently a gorgeous sight set in the exquisite surroundings of the ruined Abbey and close to the Cathedral. The weather was very conducive to sightseeing so some went further afield as well and explored the memorable town of Lavenham which had been founded by wealthy wool merchants and had a vibrant history.
Gathering together at the Bar at 7.30 pm for a pre-prandial drink we then took our places, dressed more formally, men wearing suits rather than dj's, for the most delicious Dinner with table wines provided by the Association. After the meal before the loyal toast was proposed to the Queen by Steve and before any further toasts, Tony Cookson presented Chairman Steve Lennox with a beautiful miniature silver stag's head expressing the gratitude of members to Steve for all his hard work on behalf of the Association. and following this Douglas Pinnock, HFTCA Friend and son of the late John Pinnock reminded us of the great founders and inspirers of the HFTCA, Lord Rowallan, General Sir Ronald Forbes Adams, Bobby Chew and Gerard Jordan.and expressed his gratitude for fifty years of the Association with its lifelong friendships, and in turn proposed a toast to HFTCA members and their ladies.The toast having been drunk, Steve then proposed the loyal toast, which was drunk solemnly. He then explained the results of the deliberations of the Extraordinary Committee Meeting which I will leave to others to set out. Steve then turned to retiring Secretary John Harry and thanked him for all the work he had put in over the years and produced two beautifully wrapped gifts, handing one to John and the other to John's wife Audrey to unwrap. Somewhat bemused, John unwrapped the most exquisite Crown Derby clock, such a delightful and useful gift which will remind him of his many happy holidays in Derbyshire. Audrey unwrapped a life-like china replica of a beagle, which amused them greatly as they own 2 beagles. The business of the evening being over, everyone settled down to enjoy each other's company.
The following day many dispersed back to their homes, some stayed on another day but we all felt heartened and strengthened by the weekend and resolved to keep in touch.

The HFTC is such a unique and special group. It has taught members to bash on regardless whatever hardships they may face and they have continued to do so. This impinges on their friendships and their family lives so that when meeting together one does not notice the passing years, a friend is a friend for life and to sum up its philosophy this axiom contains it all: "A friend is somebody who understands your past, believes in your future and accepts you the way you are." We are all failing in our physical strength and mental capacity but HFTCA friendships support and strengthen us all. In the words of Douglas Pinnock: "We hope this tradition goes on till we are all gone".

It remains for me to thank Brian Taylor, John Trimmer and Jim Barnes for their resolve to keep us all in touch with the "HFTC Fellowship".

Audrey Harry