Saturday dawned bright but somewhat bleary eyed. After breakfast, it was time to clean brasses and medals and get on parade. Over 140 old boys were on parade this year, a record we think, with others watching from the side lines. Before marching on, we were all offered a glass of port to fortify us for the ordeal ahead. (Some of us managed to get seconds)! We all marched on to the stirring music provided by Alex and his pipe band, and yes, you still get that echo bouncing off ‘J’ Coy. The reviewing officer this year was Col Alistair Duncan, Chief of Staff DEME (A). He took a genuine interest, and talked to practically every other person. Consequently the ‘inspection’ took over 45 minutes, so it was with some relief when we executed a ‘right turn’ and ‘quick march.’ Standing still for that long at our age and you begin to ‘seize up,’ but the port helped, especially the second glass!
March past and salute taken, we marched off onto Nuffield Road, ‘left wheel’ and along to the Garden of Remembrance, which is where the guard room used to be. A drumhead service conducted by the Revd Canon Bev John, himself an ex boy (66A), and then it was back to the Sgts’ Mess for a BBQ. As usual, we were left to our own devices for the rest of the afternoon, a visit to the REME museum, the aircraft workshops or maybe nothing more strenuous that a siesta!
Late afternoon and the AGM, at which we learned from out chairman, Brian Hutchins (61B) and secretary Bill Cleasby (61C) what the future holds for Arborfield. Those who have been in receipt of my letter will already know that the whole of Arborfield garrison is to be sold off and turned into a housing estate. We thought that this year would be the last time we would be able to access the old school (still in MoD hands but unoccupied). However, due to the current economic situation things are on hold. Access to the old camp for the reunion next year is 100% guaranteed, and 90% for 2011. After that it becomes less certain. We 62ers may be lucky for our 50th anniversary in 2012, but in any event even if we can’t use the old square, reunions will still be held using SEAE until that closes, possibly in 2015. (For those who don’t know, all defence training is being concentrated at new purpose built facilities at St Athan in South Wales).
After a rest, it was time for the evening dinner which was held in the larger Regimental Dining Room (cookhouse to you and me!) The starter and sweet were excellent, but the main course of lamb was rather disappointing. Not to worry, after an interesting presentation by the Corps ASM (yes REME now has a CASM) about the Corps, its commitments, deployments and challenges for the future, it was back to the mess for more libation at very reasonable rates!
And so to Sunday, and time to go home, although a Reunion Church Service was held in the Garrison Church for those wishing to attend. All in all, we had a fantastic weekend. It was great to meet old friends once again and everyone I spoke to agreed that they had enjoyed themselves, so roll on next year when we can do it all again.
So, that is about it. I know I speak for the other four attendees in hoping that more 62ers will consider joining the AOBA and come to the next reunion. We know that some intend to do just that, and some not, but whatever you decide, please keep in touch.
A few more pictures to close.
Best Regards – John Swarbrick
The man who heads the team that makes it all happen
The Comfort of the SEAE Sgts Mess
Army Apprentice School Arborfield
Arborfield Old Boys Association Reunion 2009
Author John Swarbrick 62A