By Derek Chilvers (Suffolk Regiment Cyprus Veteran) ……
Another day has dawned but today is special because it is Sunday 27th November which is the day that the Suffolk Regiment Cyprus Old Boys, family and friends once again held a reunion at the usual venue The Rushbrooke Arms, Sicklesmere, Bury St Edmunds where we are given a warm welcome as usual.
The day started when Ken Truman, who was in the Suffolks in Cyprus with the lads, turned up at my home as he was travelling to the venue with my neighbours Christine and Peter and myself in their car. Ken was one of the old troupers I had been trying to trace and after years of searching he turned up living opposite two of my friends and after a two hour meet up with him and his wife Doreen, who was a cousin of my late wife Shirley, he decided he would like to attend our next reunion as he had known some of the lads who would be attending.
Peter carried my TV set out to his car and carefully placed it in the back and at 10.25 we all settled into the car and off we went, arriving at the venue at 11.10 where I realised that we now had a TV set and no remote so Peter volunteered to go back to my home to get it and Christine went to keep him company. Ken joined me as I went into the venue where I was greeted by a young lady who after I introduced myself welcomed us with a lovely smile and told us she would be attending to our group for our meals or drinks and led us upstairs to the function room, I have made efforts to find this young lady’s name to thank her for the attention and service she gave everybody because I think she should be commended but to no avail.
Ken and I had a cup of coffee and a chat about old times while we waited for old friends to arrive and arrive they did, I am not sure of the order they arrived in but I could see Noel and Barbara King, Brian and Jackie Stock, Les Andrews and a lady friend and they found themselves a table to sit at, then Brian and Pat Webber arrived accompanied by their friends Tony and June Blake followed by Wally and Wendy Sherwood then Keith Flood and his wife came slowly up the stairs as Keith is still a little unsteady on his legs and somewhere amongst all this movement Peter had arrived back and had got the TV setup so I put one of my holiday DVD’S on the screen for anyone to watch and during all this activity the sweet young waitress was going around getting people’s orders. I was pleased to see Terry Covell arrive – we had a great time in Cyprus this year when we made the journey for the Remembrance Service and spent a lot of time exploring during our 2-week stay.
I was now beginning to relax spending my time going around the room talking to everybody during which time Ted Tatum and Ron Middleditch arrived and I’m sorry to say I then lost count as everyone in the room was now getting their food brought up so I now say sorry to anyone I haven’t mentioned but will try harder at the next reunion which I am hoping to have sometime next April.
We were all pleased to see Rosie who made the long trip from Cannock to represent her partner and our old comrade Chris Veness Black and we made sure there was a tribute to him, he is still very much missed by all of his “mates”.
Mick Burland and Johnny Douglas had now entered the room apologising for being late on parade because Mick’s sat-nav played up and they had an unscheduled trip around the countryside but they were now here which was the important thing and our waitress came up and took their order for food.
Now the food was almost finished, everyone broke up into little groups as usual for a chat about all sorts of things and asked about my holiday pictures so probably for the next hour I sat down with the viewing group and tried as best I could to describe where all the photos had been taken – a ride up the mountain to view St Hilarion Castle and later another drive to view Buffavento Castle from where we enjoyed, owing to the height we were now at, a panoramic view of the Nicosia Plains where you could see the dust rising from the many sites where all the rocks that were mined were turned into all types of building materials. We then went on to the views of Kyrenia and our very tiring climb to the battlements of Kyrenia Castle which with my bad leg and my mashed up toe that I had dropped a lump of oak onto three days before I started my holiday it was quite a struggle and the ice cold Efes beer I enjoyed at our favourite bar when we finally reached ground level was very welcome.
We had met up with a couple Derek and Joyce Yeomans at our hotel who when we told them of our ride over the mountains Derek had said that he was stationed up there during his service time so the next day we took them retracing our trip from the previous day and you could see the result of that in the pictures. Terry and I then made a trip to Nicosia and went through the border control into the South Side and walked up Ledra Street and viewed all the work that was being done where Metaxus Square used to be. We then decided to relive some of the old days by walking through the little narrow streets that we used to patrol which was nice but in daylight you don’t get the same feeling as we used to when a curfew was on and everywhere was very dark but we enjoyed the walk and everyone seemed to enjoy the pictures. After the holiday photos were finished I put on a video of when the Suffolks and Norfolks amalgamated and went downstairs to one of the tills to settle my bill and this one was attended by the waitress who had been looking after us and she questioned as to what our reunion was all about and she seemed very interested so I gave her an envelope that had my memories story in plus DVD’s I always carry a copy and when I returned upstairs I found everyone who was left putting their coats on and saying their goodbyes so we did the same and returned home with me very satisfied that it had been another success and proved to me by the emails of gratitude I have received.
Thanks to all of you for turning up and I am now looking forward to the next one.
Thank you Derek for your review of this year’s reunion. I couldn’t help noticing a photo of Fingers the Goat on the Chris Veness table, which I hadn’t seen before and on querying this with you, there was a further one in your archives. Knowing how I love the Fingers’ story, I couldn’t resist showing these here, hope you don’t mind! I’m sure the lads would like to see them.