Report on Reunion 2013

They started to arrive from North, South, East and West. From Dundee and Bournemouth, from Cambridge and Bristol; members of 19th Signal Regiment Association converged on Warwick for their 21st Reunion over the first weekend in September.

On Saturday morning 34 members boarded one of Mr Johnson’s shiny new coaches bound for the Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings. After a quick briefing we enjoyed tea or coffee and large sticky buns in the Edwardian Restaurant created on the lower floor of a Tudor merchant’s house (later an Inn and, later still, used by Shrewsbury Co-op as a shop). This was followed by a whistle stop guided tour of the museum where historic buildings have been rescued from demolition and rebuilt on the 15 acre site. Among the 27 buildings we saw a 1946 pre-fab – which brought the memories flooding back for some of our members – a mid-1800’s windmill, a three-hole earth closet, a chain-making workshop, a magnificent showman’s waggon and a Victorian Mission Church rescued from Herefordshire and which, now re-consecrated, hosts services and wedding blessings throughout the year.

Whilst Dennis Isaacs, Martin Oliver and Frank Smith were inspecting the National Telephone Kiosk Collection the volunteer in charge of that display arrived and opened up the mobile TXE2 exchange vehicle. They were joined by Pat Soward and a lively conversation on reed-relay technology followed! As an aside there is also a mobile Strowger exchange on site to which all instruments in the telephone kiosks are connected.

We were then driven a few short miles to the Jinney Ring Craft Centre where our first stop was the restaurant to enjoy pre-booked lunches from the buffet. The weather was fine all day so we were able to enjoy the outdoor sculpture trail and the antics of the multitude of ducks! Among the dozen or so craftsmen working were a glass-blower and a violin maker, both of whom gained the admiration of our members, a stained glass maker and small chocolate and soap factories! The Gift Shop and Art Gallery featured a very original and enticing display of paintings as well as jewellery, clothing and lots more.

This was not only our 21st reunion, it was also the 10th to be held at the Warwick Hilton Hotel. A reception with sparkling wine and celebration cake was held immediately before dinner and our Chairman, Pat Soward, presented an Association Plaque to Mr Andrew Garrett, the hotel Operations Manager, to mark this milestone.SONY DSC

Andrew is well known to Association Members as he has looked after us for most of those ten years. Our two newest members, Carl Cank and Debbie were invited to make a ‘ceremonial incision’ in the cake before it was taken away and, with commendable speed, reduced to fifty handsomely sized slices.SONY DSC

Following his words of welcome to the assembled members Pat Soward turned his attention to Rev Jim McManus, Chaplain to the AFSA, and Mavis. Jim and Mavis have joined enthusiastically in our reunions and Saturday outings and three years ago, at the National Memorial Arboretum, Jim officiated at the dedication of the 19th Air Formation Signals Tree in the FEAF Grove and the re-dedication of the Indian Signals Tree. On behalf of our President, Brigadier Max Maxfield, who was unable to be with us, Pat Soward presented Jim and Mavis with a certificate of Honorary Membership ‘in recognition of their friendship and services to the association over a protracted period.’

Following the loyal toasts a short AGM was held at which all committee members were re-elected. The proceedings ended with John Hill’s version of ‘Live at The Apollo’ – ten minutes of quick-fire one- liners finishing with two ditties by Pam Ayres who, as a member of the WAAF, served at RAF Seletar.Pat presents the shield Later five of our ‘younger members’, two couples and a widow, enrolled in the association as Associate Members. This bodes well for the future of our association.

At a short committee meeting on Sunday morning it was agreed to return to Warwick again next year and the weekend of September 5th – 7th has been provisionally booked. Association. Secretary and Reunion Organisers John Horne and Joyce are already looking at possible places to visit on our Saturday outing!