Reunion Guest of Honour 2014

Our Guest of Honour at the 2014 reunion was Ray Haggar.  He was introduced by our Chairman, Peter Turrall.

Mr Patron, President, Fellow Veterans.

Our Honoured Guest this year Ray Haggar, is a friend of our President Mike Thornton, having known him since 1968. The two families have shared many holidays together and during the last fifteen years holidays have been in Florida playing golf and attending concerts and theatre.

Ray had no direct association in his career with the Marconi organisation but naturally being friendly with our President, general matters undoubtedly came up for discussion.

Ray was with Shellmex and BP where he joined straight from University. In the early 1970’s and for 30 years he spent working in the UK with the marketing arm of Shell. His experience being mainly in Commercial and Industrial sales but the majority of his time was in retail, especially in marketing and project management. He ended his career as Head of Retail management Training.

Having left Shell, he then for 3years worked with a specialised Training organisation delivering a staff/management communication package to of all
Institutions HMRC.

Later he renewed his connection with Shell and became a Pensions Liaison representative for the next ten years. I suspect we will hear more of this from Ray shortly. As our Patron is a member of our own Stanhope Pensions scheme, I am sure he will be listening with an open ear on how private organisations like Shell were able to offer very high retirement pension payments. !!!!

Fellow Veterans may I ask you to rise and with a Toast give a warm welcome to Mr. Ray Haggar

To which Ray Haggar replied

Ray HaggerGood afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you Mike for inviting me to your Inaugural Presidential Luncheon, and I’d like to say how pleased I am to be here to give you support, even if I’m having to sing for my supper, as it were!

Mike and I, together with our families, have been good friends for some 40 years, sharing happy holidays on the continent and latterly in the USA. He has been very supportive of me personally for which I thank him, and I am sure he will make an excellent Association President for 2014.

My background is not of a scientific nature and it is therefore with some trepidation that I will say just a few words about the Third Great Revolution, which is the Communications Revolution, from a personal, present and future viewpoint.

Who would have thought way back in the 40’s we would now be able to communicate anywhere in the world with our families and friends by a handheld device that slips into our pockets! Most weekends in the family chez Hagger and before lunch BST, we talk and also see our children and grandchildren in Korea, New York and Singapore via Face Time or Skype. As youngsters our imaginations of future possibilities were stimulated through comics and science fiction that this might be possible, and today it is available to us all, globally! Social media, GPS the World Wide Web have all contributed to and promoted a much more transparent, informed and open global society, which holds great promise for the future, but comes with parallel concerns that depend on the way we, and the world, use the benefits it offers.

Social media touches us in so many ways, how we organise our lives, handle family and group dynamics at home, school and at work. Just the other day I caught a report on the TV advising those of us who are becoming insomniacs to leave the tele downstairs, with the Kindle or iPod etc take up a book, read a little, the better to lull us to sleep. So caution is the watch word!

Much of this technology in personal communications has taken place relatively recently. Face Book, for example, has only been with us since 2006; Twitter and Tweeting has followed and yet they seem to have been with us for ever. In business and industry these amazing technical developments offer great scope for us to completely reorganise the way we work. But then again there is need for caution. Tele-conferencing the sales force may contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions, and reduce global warming, but it cannot substitute always for face-to-face dialogue. The retail industry is only now struggling to come to terms with the impact of on-line competition on traditional town centres, newly constructed shopping centres and employment in the services sector generally. Being a bit of a dinosaur myself, I use on-line shopping very sparingly – there being no substitute for seeing and experiencing a product in hand. (Click and collect is a partial solution) A whole cultural change is required for it to fit comfortably into society. (It’s evolving!)

Politically these technologies are being felt all over the world; closed societies are being exposed to opportunities available elsewhere and are challenging the old guard. Good and not so good can result as we have seen in different corners of the world.
And so….WHERE to NEXT?

Hardly a day seems to pass without a news item telling us about the latest venture into space…..a new astronaut destined for the ISS….or a new space mission to search for…..almost everything! During our lifetime TV has brought us amazing scenes in sport, human achievement and tragedy on the 9 inch blue tube (sic) to the 50-plus super HD/3D flat screen, enabling us to witness events such as the 1966 World Cup Final and that GIANT LEAP FOR MANKIND in 1969! (There are apparently still those in the US who believe TV wrestling to be genuine, but Moon landings fake!) So where does this take us?

Space exploration has been at the heart of all this development (no satellites, no GPS etc). It has also been an area where international cooperation has been fostered and prospered. Let’s hope events in the Crimea do not scuttle this positive aspect of human endeavour and harmony.
Which leads me on to two projects in space exploration which you may have been following.

The first is the Plato Mission, an ESA lead programme to seek out habitable worlds in the cosmos, launching in 2024, and importantly involving a local business, E2V, who will be constructing a metre-square camera with a 2.5 Billion pixel lens! Exciting stuff!

The second is a current mission nearing its completion, namely the ESA lead Rosetta Mission, which has involved sending a 3 tonne spacecraft, including a lander – Philae – that launched in 2004 with the object of catching a comet (reminds me of a song!). The spaceship is Rosetta, the landing craft Philae, and the comet is Churyomov / Gerasimenko 67F/CQ and the journey has taken 10 years. At some 25,000 mph! The aim is to land Philae on the comet’s surface to take samples and photographs, for research into the materials that are believed to be the building blocks of planet earth and the universe! Some project!! Hopefully this will take place in November this year.

To me, as a layman, this is mind boggling, with echoes of the film Armageddon, and it will rank alongside the moon landings as the next Step for Mankind!
Now why have I spoken about these future challenges? Why, because if it had not been for a Man who ‘flew a kite’ to send a signal from Cornwall to Ireland and subsequently to Newfoundland, none of the controls necessary for these amazing feats to succeed would have been possible, for all controls are by radio (albeit with some 45 minute reaction delays!). And that man, as you will know, was Marchese Marconi, the immigrant entrepreneur, whose belief, tenacity, and passion for scientific discovery made imagination into reality. A True Champion of Science.

I am indeed honoured to be here today, and you can all be proud to say: “I was part of Team Marconi and helped to make these Great Journeys possible”!

Thank you for your hospitality, friendship, and attention today. I am truly humbled.