Photos here.
HFTCA members, Friends and their guests arrived in brilliant sunshine on Friday 21st May for the start of the Spring Reunion at Three Ways House Hotel. Fifty six people had booked for the weekend though some familiar faces were much missed at the Chairman’s reception and thereafter. Sadly Cliff and Liz Longman, who had done so much to organise the Reunion, were missing as Cliff was recovering from a major operation. Ken Johnston, who had planned to come, had to cry off at the last minute because of a severe attack of lumbago, and Naomi Morrison was also much missed. We were delighted to see Dickie and Joyce Carruthers with their daughter Ann and son-in-law Colin Wilson restored to good health and enjoying the Reunion, also Jim and Betty Barnes, who were able to come from Essex at the last minute. It was a pleasure to greet Julia White, widow of the late Ted White, from Wales, whom we have not seen for several years, Jimmie Cox from Savannah, and William Caldwell from Malaga with his wife Patricia accompanied by Neil and Lynn. We were also glad to welcome Ken and Sylvia Embleton, life-long friends of Cliff Longman. During the evening Peter Dickenson was in our thoughts after his son had telephoned the hotel earlier with the message that his father was critically ill.

The following day Members and Friends had a free day to visit the Cotswolds but most of them elected to accept Eleanor Fox’s kind invitation to a buffet lunch and cream tea at her comfortable home, Grove Cottage, at Down Hatherley near Gloucester where her mother Helen White, widow of the late Andrew White, and Eleanor’s husband Roger were also co-hosts for the event. Fortunately the weather was bright and sunny with a brisk breeze and we were able to sit in the garden as 37 people attended. It was a great pleasure to meet with Helen again.

Having indulged not only in a delicious light buffet for lunch, almost immediately succeeded by a resplendent cream tea at Down Hatherley, we drove back to Mickleton for another gastronomic highlight, the Reunion Dinner. It was a great pity that Joan Halnan had the misfortune of dislocating her hip while changing for dinner and had to be taken to Cheltenham Hospital by ambulance accompanied by Gerald and their daughter, Jennie Hinton,. This was a great source of concern for everyone, who had been enjoying their company. Gerald returned for the latter part of the evening but Joan had to remain in hospital and Jenny stayed on with her mother for a while.

On Sunday a full programme of events was planned. At 10 a.m people left in their cars to go to Lichfield, where a buffet lunch and guided tour of the Cathedral had been arranged. We had Steve Lennox as well as Cliff to thank for the planning of this occasion. An excellent lunch was provided in a room specially booked for us at the Cathedral Visitor’s Study Centre. At lunch we were joined for the first time by Roy Okell (10) and his wife Mary, who have only recently joined the Association. They enjoyed their visit as much as we did talking to them and hopefully this will be the first of many meetings with them. After lunch we were taken by the most experienced guide to the Cathedral, who gave us a very interesting tour and answered many questions about this fascinating building. It has three spires which has prompted the name of the Ladies of the Vale. The building was completed in 1340 and is the third building on the site, superceding a Saxon church, and then an early Norman cathedral, which in turn was demolished in 1195 to make way for the new Gothic style of building. In the Civil War Royalist troops barricaded themselves in the Cathedral to withstand the Siege of Lichfield in the course of which the central tower of the Cathedral was destroyed by cannon fire. Restoration of the Cathedral was not finally completed until 1901.

Sunday’s weather was extremely hot so it had been good to linger in the Cathedral until mid-afternoon when the group re-embarked in their cars to go the short distance to the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas. Members who have visited the Arboretum since the planting of the first HFTCA Scots pine immediately noticed an improvement, not only in facilities and landscape but also in the management of the site which has recently been taken into the care of the British Legion and is very professionally run. There is now no charge for entry, though donations are welcome, and we were welcomed on arrival by the efficient and friendly staff, who provided two eco-friendly electric wheelchairs for Sybil and John to drive. They whizzed around in these, hugely enjoying themselves. The planted areas looked beautiful with the green sward spreading across the horizon and the young trees emerging in their planted groups. We took photographs of our members near our two Scots pines, now complemented by an excellent teak bench, and were pleased that the trees looked very healthy. After the photo-shoot we moved into the Chapel where we listened to an interesting talk about the planning and use of the building by many groups, and also to a recording of the Last Post, which is played every evening in remembrance of those who died in the last Wars. On leaving the Chapel we found picnic tables set with trays of tea for us, which we gratefully consumed, leaving at closure time, 5 pm.

At the end of this most enjoyable day we all relaxed together over an informal dinner at Three Ways House. Sadly Joan Halnan had to remain in hospital meanwhile being assessed for further treatment. She eventually returned home by ambulance on 1st June. We wish her great benefit and improvement from the physiotherapy prescribed.

After breakfast on Monday 24th May we took our fond farewells of each other, hoping that as many of us as possible will meet at the November Reunion and AGM in London and again in May 2005 in Scotland. To those friends who have been unable to join us for health or other reasons we send our love and good wishes for the future.


Those attending the Reunion were:- Jim Barnes (10) & Betty; William Caldwell (12) & Patricia, with Neil & Lynn; Dickie Carruthers (5) & Joyce with Colin & Ann Wilson; Tony Cookson (4) & Pauline with Neil, Gail & Julia & Sue & Andy Gibbons; Tony Cordy (4) & Marion; Jimmie Cox (5); Ken & Sylvia Embleton; Gerald Halnan (3) & Joan with Jenny & John Hinton; John Harry (9) & Audrey; Graham Lee (8) & Jane; Steve Lennox (8) & Sybil; John Lincoln (1) & Jean; Ken Millichap (3) with Anne, Nigel & Rebecca Harrop, & Jill, Martin, Abigail, Rhiannon & Sam Nokes; John Morrison (3); Roy Okell (10) & Mary; Bill Shaw (1); Fred Smith (11); Brian Taylor (9) & Claire; John Trimmer (5) & Shirley; Julia White (F).