Royal British Legion, Kyrenia Branch Poppy Ball
The Cratos Premium Hotel was the venue for the first Royal British Legion, Kyrenia Branch, Poppy Ball on 6th November 2012, and what a splendid event it was with the guests looking so elegant in their evening wear as they gathered in the area outside the ballroom and there was much lively conversation and greetings to friends and acquaintances who had come to enjoy a nice evening and support the Poppy Appeal for the Royal British Legion.
Minimise the media player window to continue reading and listen to the sounds, music and speeches at this fantastic evening.
A little later we all moved into the ballroom to the sound of sirens and a Glenn Miller piece “In the Mood”. Major Brian Thomas BEM, the Chairman of RBL Kyrenia Branch, started to call the room to order and welcomed everyone to the very first Poppy Ball, he asked the guests to stand to receive the Branch Standard and this was followed by the singing of the National Anthem. Then came the Act of Remembrance with Keith Lloyd giving the eulogy, the Last Post was played followed by an epitaph from Keith Lloyd – “When you go home, tell them of us and say, for their tomorrow, we gave our today”, and from the aircraft suspended from the ceiling a flurry of poppies descended.
Brian Thomas gave a short speech, firstly saying how pleased he was to see so many friendly faces and went on to explain that since its launch on 1st October 2011, 10% of all money raised has been donated to the Poppy Appeal. All proceeds from the 3 weeks of the current Poppy Appeal, including the boxes which have been in many locations, plus the proceeds of the ticket sales for the Poppy Ball, after payment has been made to The Cratos, 50% of the final amount on the money tree which was drawn as a raffle prize later in the evening, and the proceeds of the Poppy Walk on Saturday 10th November. Brian said that there are 100 people who have pledged to do the walk which has some very generous sponsorship arranged by some of the walkers. Last year £5,000 was raised from the Poppy Appeal, this was in conjunction with the British Residents’ Society but Brian added this year the RBL was doing it on their own and he was confident that the figure would be around £10,000.
There were thanks made to all of the people who had worked so hard throughout the year and for the arrangements for the Poppy Ball – To Jenny Tyler and Les Evans, Anne Lloyd and Mary Hughes, Martin Ashworth for his contribution towards the decoration of the ballroom. During the afternoon I had visited the Cratos and could see the amount of work which was being carried out and at that time I saw the mock-up of a Lancaster Bomber which was to be suspended from the ceiling and I understand it took some hours to achieve, but when we arrived in the evening there it was in all its glory. I spoke to Martin briefly during the afternoon and he said where possible he uses re-cycled materials for all of his projects. The ticket sellers were also congratulated as well as the people who had made the lovely table decorations, all with a poppy theme, and to Jacqui Smith and The Cratos Hotel staff. Last, but not least, Brian thanked all of the guests for attending and for their support.
Due to the change of date for the Poppy Ball, there was a necessity to re-arrange the entertainment and a group of musicians had stepped in, so for this event they were a 6-piece combo, to be called Cyprus Swing, and along with Simon Barter, the singer, they proved to be an excellent choice of musical entertainment. Simon told the guests that some of the musicians had never met before and they had only managed a very brief rehearsal during the afternoon. You would never have known, they played so well together and gave an excellent performance throughout the evening. There were of course many people up on the floor dancing all through the evening.
The menu was in strict military style with starters arriving 8.20pm – 8.45pm, main course 9pm – 9.30pm and dessert 9.30pm – 10pm. I don’t think anyone was doing any timing but the service was very good. During dinner Simon Barter sang some of the old nostalgic songs followed by Cyprus Swing’s first act.
During the evening Brian Thomas recited a very touching poem and then introduced the Vice President, Sabri (Steve) Abit Muhsinoğlu who welcomed the guests and thanked the people who were at the venue before 10am that morning working hard to get everything ready for the evening. He informed the guests that the growth of the Kyrenia Branch to 440 members in the space of one year is a record within the British Legion and an achievement to be very proud of. He told a few amusing stories of the early days of trying to set up the Kyrenia Branch of the Royal British Legion and some of the sticky situations they found themselves in but in the end it was successfully accepted in the TRNC and here we were at the first Poppy Ball. The Vice President presented a plaque to both Brian Thomas and Les Evans as a thank you for all their hard work and dedication.
The results of the Poppy Competition were then announced and the winners were for the categories : Painting – Pam Schofield for her painting “Crusader Bellapais Poppies, the Ceramics category winner was Martin Ashworth and in the Photography category – Sarah Massey. Brian then introduced a mystery guest, as Gracie Fields, and she gave an incredible rendition of “Walter, Walter, Lead me to the Altar”, “The Biggest Aspidestra in the World“ and the very amusing “Thingy-me-Bob” song. This entertainer looked remarkably like Anne Lloyd!
The dancing continued and then came the time for the auction which was conducted by Karl Rugg, who was a freelance auctioneer in the UK. Having seen Karl in action before I knew how good he is at extracting as much as he can from an audience and this occasion was no different. There were 10 prizes up for auction, followed by two of the competition winning items – the ceramic poppy which went for 40TL and the painting which went for 110TL, and from my rough notes and calculation the total from the auction alone made in the region of 4,000TL. Well done Karl.
It was time to draw the raffle where there would be one only winner who would receive 50% of the amount on the money tree which amounted to around 937TL. The lucky ticket was drawn and the winner was Owel Hendrik, a Dutch veteran, who with his wife Aisjah has lived in North Cyprus for 25 years. He is now 86 years old and he told me later he was with the Partisan Army during WW11 so I am sure he must have some interesting experiences to relate.
It was now getting late and the evening was starting to draw to a close so we said our farewells to a number of people and made our way home after which was an extremely enjoyable event, so thank you to all of the RBL members who contributed to making the Poppy Ball a huge success.
For your further enjoyment please see our slideshow of the evening.
By Margaret Sheard
Keep looking, as next week there will be another article and slideshow (RBL Out-takes) which shows just how much hard work went on behind the scenes to make this event so successful.