GRAND REUNION 16
Report by Martin Greenwood.
Furness Bermuda Association Reunion – May 13th and 16th 2016
This year’s reunion again took place in Alford at Care Ashore (formerly The Springbok Merchant Seamen's War Memorial Home) which is situated in a beautiful part of Surrey.
As with previous reunions we met informally on Friday evening for drinks in the bar to renew acquaintances before returning to local B&Bs in the vicinity, or to the Travel Lodge and Premier Inn at Guildford. To aid travelling back and forth from the venue, this year transport had been arranged by Bill Cox so members were able to enjoy a drink without worrying about drinking and driving.
This year’s attendance was good with some 62 members and wives attending including some who were attending their first reunion. The fame of the Furness Bermuda Line is still alive after 50 years, people are still hearing about it and long may it continue. Perhaps attendance was higher this year as the reunion had somehow been termed the last. As it proved to be so popular among those attending, let us hope not.
Once again people had travelled long distances to attend. There was a strong contingent from the USA and Canada as well as Allan Davidson and Alan Soares from Bermuda. There were a number of people missing who for one reason or another who could not attend and some that had sadly passed away.
The event was very well organised by Peter Manley, Bill Cox who on the Saturday morning handed over to Dennis Knight to lead the proceedings and give the introductions.
Saturday morning began with registration at 09:30. This was followed by each member giving a short resume of their connections with the service. This proved interesting and amusing and many had brought their pictures, records and souvenirs of their time serving on Ocean Monarch and the Queen of Bermuda which gave people much to talk about.
Alan Soares then gave a talk about the service, the history and the ships with a power point presentation which was excellent. Alan has built up a reputation for his talks as he frequently travels as a speaker with various shipping companies.
After lunch, a delicious buffet, Alan Soares continued his presentation which was followed by questions, answers and reminiscences. At this point there was a break for tea before our next speaker, Allan Davidson gave a talk about the service, the ships and showed his excellent pictures. As well as many of the pictures having been taken by himself he has obtained some very old pictures and slides which are rare as well as being most interesting.
In previous years there was always a lull in the proceedings for people to go and freshen up before pre-dinner drinks and dinner but this year there was so much to hear and talk about that before we knew it, it was once again time to muster for pre-dinner drinks. However, in between, there was just enough time for ladies and gentlemen to spruce themselves up.
Dinner was served at 7 pm which consisted of an excellent three course meal. Although no formal speakers George Swaine gave an interesting and amusing account of his time on the ships and his subsequent career in Furness Withy. Toasts followed and thanks were given to Peter Manley and Bill Cox for arranging yet another very successful function.
Afterwards, members repaired to the bar for one final drink and one final story before saying their fond farewells.
Hopefully this was not the last reunion as everyone expressed a strong interest and hope, that in a year or so we might meet again. That is something are organising team will have to ponder over.
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