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The 50th and final Barham Association reunion dinner, held in Portsmouth, Saturday May 13th, 2006 was an unprecedented success. 118 people attended including 9 survivors and 4 survivors widows.
The survivors included
After a minutes silence to remember lost comrades, a delicious meal was followed by the migration of the guests across the hallway into the Nuffield Lounge where members of the committee spoke and Chairman, Michael Stratton-Brown addressed the group. Lord Barham, President of the Association, attended with his wife, Lady Rosemary Griffin talked of reunions of yesteryear which were held on HMS President, moored on the Thames near Blackfriars Bridge. The dinners were moved to the Old Sailor's Home, Portsmouth in 1982 and have been held there ever since.
Mr Stratton-Brown read out the response to the loyal greeting letter which had been sent, as usual, to H.M. the Queen. This year the letter differed in that it offered her majesty good wishes for her 80th birthday.
Mick Tapsell explained how he had put together an information booklet about HMS Barham, with the idea of having it to hand in Westminster Abbey should any visitor to the Abbey ask about either the candlesticks, or the book of rememberance and want to know more about the ship.
The committee were re-elected but Mr Stratton-Brown appealed for a new Secretary following the very sad death of Treasurer Sidney Petherbridge, who had done so much for the association, in December 2005. No one came forward but it is hope they will. The chairman pointed out that a very heavy workload has now fallen to Ray Oliver who worked incredibly hard to organise this memorable, final dinner. Ray assumed post of Treasurer and Secretary in December and needs help.
Ray Oliver who organised it so brilliantly, and had tribute paid to him, spoke movingly of the part his wife, Diana, played in organising the dinner. "I cannot tell you how many hours she spent poring over table placements and other details to make it a wonderful evening" he said. Andrew Gillespie was also thanked for his wonderful contribution to the new look Barham website. It was general agreed that the site was much improved thanks to his intervention and ideas.
The point was then raised that this should indeed be the final dinner. Mr Stratton-Brown suggested it was a good idea or might be, to cease the dinners in Portsmouth on a "high". Rob Hall, son of committee member Cecil, said that it was his understanding that the MOD did not much encourage reunions going beyond 60 years as a line had to be drawn somewhere. When put to the vote, only 3 members wanted the dinner in Portsmouth to continue so the Chairman had to tell them they were outnumbered greatly and the decision was taken to end the dinners.
The Abbey service in November will of course continue, and it was suggested there be a more focused social get-together after that event. There was talk of the merits or otherwise of the Union Jack Club for this purpose and a suggestion of the cafeteria in the Methodist Hall, directly across the road from the Abbey.
The dinner was attended by, among others Paul and Barbara Skinner who had travelled from Canada and the Rev. Jeremy Bradford who's father was Commander Bradford. He had only learned of the existence of the association last Autumn. Ted Clow, another survivor, was accompanied by his son Andrew, daughter-in-law, and grandsons, James, aged 12 and William, aged 10. Other attendees included James and Guy Oliver, nephews of Ray Oliver. The family of Sidney Petherbridge, his widow Evelyn, daughter Jane Wogan and son Richard, also attended. Keith Bennett, a recently "discovered" survivor attended with his two sons.
| last updated:
13 July 2013