By Margaret Sheard…..
We were pleased to receive a feedback from Derek Chilvers about the 2016 Suffolk Regiment Cyprus Veterans reunion which took place at The Rushbrooke Arms, Sicklesmere, Bury St Edmunds on Sunday 17th April.
Derek usually arranged these reunions together with Chris Black Veness but with the sudden death of Chris in January, Derek found himself on his own to make the arrangements and he was both sad not to have the input of Chris and also apprehensive as to whether he would be able to cope on his own, but it seems he need not have worried because the Reunion was a great success.
This is Derek’s review of the event:-
As usual I was a heap of nerves for the reunion not helped by the venue people asking me for numbers attending in case they needed more staff, so I settled on thirty, on all the invitations I put my address and phone number but had only a few replies.
I arrived in the car park at 11.10 and parked looking across the spaces so I could see people arriving and the first were Wally Sherwood and his wife Wendy then Spike and Jean so with Spike carrying my TV we entered the venue and I led the way up the stairs to the room I knew we were allocated where I left Spike setting up the TV to his laptop while I placed the photos I had printed and framed of Chris for all to see as they came up the stairs.
Leading up to the day of the reunion I had been making lots of phone calls with good results and also had adverts on Forces Reunited, in the Let’s Talk magazine and in our local newspaper the Ipswich Star which were all successful judging by the stream of people now turning up, some old friends and some newcomers and as I watched them all greet each other it made me feel very good and I began to relax.
Very often when I met up with some of the boys from seven platoon we always spoke about Sexy (Sexton ) and how nice it would be to meet up with him again and from that I learned of Sexy’s phone number so I took a chance and phoned him to tell him about the reunion, he was a bit hesitant like Noel King was but after three phone calls he was hooked and it was terrific when he entered the room accompanied by his wife Joyce and I learned then that his actual name is John.
All the usual “lads” were now turning up Brian Stock and Jackie, Noel King and Barbara, Les Andrews, Terry Covell, Bernie Manning and Margaret, Cyril Slinn and his friend Cliff who is a slightly older member to us, Keith Flood who was on two walking sticks from a serious motorcycle accident last year but he still made the stairs and then some of the people I had been in contact with via emails so we now made quite a large very happy crowd all mixing in and to top everything off Rosie appeared bringing with her Chris’s hat and neckerchief which she draped over his photos.
Everybody ordered their chosen meals and a drink then after they were consumed we all joined in for a good two hours of photos in albums and stuff on my TV and then it was time to leave and as we all went our separate ways everyone said what a fantastic afternoon it had been and roll on Minden Day.
Derek received a thank you from one of the lads who had attended the reunion for the first time.
Hello Derek, I would just like to say how much I enjoyed the Reunion yesterday and to thank you for organising the Reunion it was so nice to meet old friends after all these years.and to look at old photo’s and the location was ideal, what a lovely pub. I have got hooked now and hopefully will be able to attend future events and to think I was a little hesitant about coming at one stage but I am so pleased I made the effort, I can also speak for my Son who also said how much he enjoyed the day, being an ex soldier himself completing 22 years in the Royal Green jackets,. so once again thank you, take care and keep in touch mate and any photo’s would be appreciated. TTFN – Ron
Unfortunately everyone is getting older and it is a very sad occasion to lose one of the “lads” as happened last year when Bobby “Ginger” Vine passed away in August. Derek has kept in touch with his wife, Pam, who now feels ready to be brought into their little community, it was a little too late for the Reunion but Pam will be joining the others for the Minden Day event this year.
2015 also saw the loss of Derek Tye in May and Keith Barron in June, and another sad loss in January this year was Chris Black Veness but his partner – Rosie – made a 2½ hour journey to be with the lads for this Reunion. Having had a lot of contact with Chris in the past I always considered him to be a bit “eccentric”, he was a very lively character still being involved in the Rock-n-Roll scene and I am sure he was very much missed this year.
So the first reunion of 2016 was a great success and the Suffolk Regiment Cyprus veterans are now looking forward to meeting up again at the Minden Day event in August.