Newsletter 2009

Report of the 2008 Veterans’ reunion

The 72nd annual reunion at the MASC in Beehive Lane, Chelmsford, took place on Saturday 12th April. This was an occasion tinged with some sadness. In the report (on page 1 of the previous issue) of the award of the MBE to Veteran Charles Rand, our president for 2008, a brief note was made of a recent illness. In fact Charles was suffering from cancer and succumbed to the disease two days before the reunion. He had already resigned from the position of chairman, held for many years, and had indicated that he would not be well enough to attend the reunion. (See obituary on page 14.) Veteran Peter Turrall made a brief announcement at the start of the reunion during which he also noted the death some weeks previously, on the 10th March, of Sir Robert Telford, a former president of the Association. Charles Rand and Sir Robert Telford were included in the customary one minute silence in memory of the founder, Guglielmo Marconi before the start of proceedings. Peter Turrall felt certain he would have been speaking for Charles in saying that this sad news should not be allowed to mar the veterans’ enjoyment of the reunion.

Last year’s president, Veteran Roy Simons, a longtime work associate of Charles, then gave a brief resumé of his Marconi career, from joining as an apprentice in 1947 and rejoining the company following RAF service in 1954, then spending his entire career in a variety of manufacturing roles, ending with that of Chief Production Engineer of Marconi Radar Systems. Roy Simons felt that it was appropriate that this year the Association celebrates a century of Marconi manufacturing.

Chairman Peter Turrall then introduced the Guest of Honour Ray Clark, the voice of BBC Essex’s Breakfast programme. Ray spoke of a desire, from the time that he left school in the 1970s, to work in radio. There was an early stint on various land-based pirate radio stations throughout the ’70s, leading to joining Radio Caroline in the ’80s for a short period, then a number of commercial radio stations, finally rejoining BBC Essex seven years ago. Along the way there was a spell of redundancy and some time spent driving coaches. He related an amusing story of the pitfalls waiting to entrap eager radio presenters taking their first plunge into the world of the radio phone-in. This was with North Norfolk Radio based in North Walsham. Having spent most of the first week appealing for listeners to phone in, a call came from Stan of Bluebird Taxis who was reporting an accident on the bypass that had caused an horrendous snarl-up in the vicinity. Ray duly reported this over the air. Within minutes a second call from Stan pointing out that the end of his call had been overlooked – there had been an horrendous snarl-up, but now everything was fine!

During the AGM Robbie Robertson gave an update on the situation regarding the GEC (1972) Plan Pension. He commended the quality and diligence of the three member nominated directors (members’ representatives on the board of trustees) acting on members’ behalf. The position appears to be that the plan is adequately funded and in safe hands.

This year’s reunion is on Saturday 18th April (see page 2). Next year’s reunion will be on Saturday 17th April 2010.