Organiser Ken Batstone reports on this excellent event…
On Wednesday 13th December the Association Annual Christmas Lunch was held, as usual, in the YMCA Hawker Centre. (For those readers who may be unaware of the fact, this Centre is the old Hawker Aircraft Social Club. After the demise and demolition of the Hawker factory and office block the YMCA took over the Social Club building to run as a community and leisure centre. Some three years ago the whole building was refurbished to a high standard and is now an excellent venue in which we hold our monthly meetings and other events. That's the end of the history lesson.)
This was the 15th Association Christmas Lunch! Yes, the 15th; it hardly seems possible. At that first lunch we were all young …well, most of us.
This year's lunch was attended by 45 members and
guests, who all enjoyed the event which started at midday. Diners
arriving between then and 1pm, were greeted with a glass of wine (or a
non-alcoholic drink) and took their seats at 13.15 when the meal was
served. The menu was the same as last year: prawn cocktail, roast
turkey and cheesecake. If, for reasons of diet, politics or religion,
any course was unacceptable, an alternative was on offer!
The meal was excellent: your own mother couldn't have cooked it better. The main course was served piping hot with large portions and everything perfectly cooked; even the sprouts went down a treat. A moment treasured by many members was when the staff came round with extra gravy and crispy roast potatoes! When the meal was finished a number of dessert portions were left over but nobody came forward for seconds because we were all completely sated.
Coffee and mince pies were then served and everyone settled down expectantly for the after-dinner speeches (That is to say, expecting them to be short and in fact, the speakers duly obliged.)
The first speaker was our new-this-year Chairman, Chris Roberts, who had taken over from Ambrose Barber after the AGM. As Chris said, Ambrose, our first Chairman, had agreed to serve for three years, but in fact held the position for fourteen! Chris went on to describe the achievements of the Association in those years under Ambrose's chairmanship and thanked him for all his hard work and asked those present to show their appreciation, which they did with long enthusiastic applause. Chris also talked about the past 12 months: the centenary of the Richmond Road site, the 25th anniversary of the closure of the site and the opening of the Tudor Drive Library extension with its scale model Harrier suspended from the roof.
The second speaker was our President, Sir Colin Chandler, who
reminded us of our achievements at Kingston over the years and how
proud we should be, as he was. Kingston had been a great place to work;
a small group of skilled people achieving manufacturing and financial
success by delivering contracts on time and on cost to the MoD, the US
Military and many other foreign customers.
After the speeches there was the customary raffle with Christmas-themed prizes; that is to say chocolates and alcohol. Thus ended the lunch, but nobody was in a hurry to depart but continued to converse socially and give their views on the afternoon. It seemed everybody had thoroughly enjoyed it and felt that the meal was the best of the 15. This sets a very high standard for next year.
Subsequently I wrote to the YMCA Catering Manager thanking her and her staff for laying on such a splendid meal and that we were now looking forward to the Summer BBQ, which is only six months away! The Association also gave the YMCA Staff a gratuity in thanks for their efforts.