HMS Ajax & River Plate Veterans Association 2017 Reunion
Over the weekend of September 29th through to Monday 2nd October 2017 thirty members met up at the Tillington Hall Hotel in Stafford for the annual reunion. Following the evening meal those members who wished to, joined the other reunion, HMS Eskimo, to share their entertainment. Reunion bar prices were a welcome bonus.
The next morning, after a hearty breakfast, we boarded our coach and off to the National Memorial Arboretum where we held our remembrance service round our splendid Battle of the River Plate memorial. The Reverend Tim Flowers had once again agreed to conduct the service and provided the music.
Jim London, one of our HMS Exeter River Plate Veterans, had joined us for the service and was called upon to lay the remembrance wreath that he performed in his usual efficient manner. Dennis Talbot, Ajax cruiser veteran delivered the Exhortation. Other Ajax cruiser veterans present were Roy Blowers & Don Birrell.
Jim London would be 98 on the Monday so a round of “Happy birthday” was appropriate and a card presented.
We crowded on to the road train for a tour of the huge site leaving time afterwards to explore other areas and memorials. It was then soon time to depart back to the hotel.
The weather, although threatening, had held off until the end when the rain started.
Back with a few hours to spare before the 6 p.m. Up-spirits, once again ably performed by rum bosuns Alf Larkin & Doug Harris. Our friends from the HMS Eskimo joined us for this part.
The rum was followed by a wine reception before dinner.
Following the 5 course gala meal, Don Birrell gave the loyal toast and our Chairman Peter Danks said a few words.
The excellent raffle was drawn before Julianne, our entertaining singer performed getting the more able and willing on to the dance floor. During the interlude a collection of 16 ships models that had been donated by one of our members was auctioned off and raised £70.
Members drifted off but several die-hards stayed up late.
Sunday Morning saw members assemble for the AGM. Following this several left for home but 15 of us took the coach to the nearby Shugborough House, the ancestral home of Admiral Anston and current estate of Lord Litchfield.
Back for more food and socialising before bed. After Monday’s breakfast we all said our fond-farewells and resolved to see each other at next year’s reunion in Plymouth.
Photographs by David Evans; Tony French; Judi Collis