When I started to attend the MVA Reunions in 2015 I certainly did not foresee that one day in the near future, I would have the honour to be your Chairman. As I said in my brief introduction at the last Reunion – when Peter asked if I might be interested my first thoughts were ‘flattered to be asked’ followed by ‘what am I letting myself in for’!
In fact, my decision to join the MVA was prompted by Peter himself after a chance meeting in the High Chelmer precinct when I was doing some voluntary work manning a stand.
Following a period with HM forces, Peter first joined Marconi in December 1950 and started work in the Installation Drawing Office (IDO). He then had a rewarding career and held many posts particularly in the Broadcast Studio equipment arena where our paths first crossed in the late 60’s. He served in Contracts and later as Sales manager for many years when he quite literally travelled the world. Eventually, management decided to give him a well-earned rest from the high pressure sales environment and he was appointed Publicity Manager with broad responsibilities including the press and advertising. He finally quit full time employment in 1996 having been awarded an MBE for services to overseas sales in 1995.
Moving on to the MVA – Peter first joined in 1975 and was elected to the Committee in 1980. He then became vice chairman in 1986, temporary chairman in 1996 and finally served as our Chairman for an unbelievable 20 years from 1999 – not forgetting also serving as our President in 2013. Veterans will recall Peter’s dedication to preserving the Marconi name in Chelmsford and his battles with the council on siting of memorabilia and ‘Wireless’ instead of ‘Radio’ on the welcome to Chelmsford sign!
I am sure that Veterans will want to join myself and the entire MVA Committee in offering our profound thanks to Peter for all of his efforts and support to Veterans and the MVA over more years than any of us would think possible. He will be a hard act to follow.
Moving on ….
A little about myself. I joined Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company in 1960 as a student apprentice on a so-called sandwich course – the joys of the New Street Apprentice Training Centre and all that filing – metal not paper!
Over the next 27 years I spent most of my time in Broadcasting Division working in engineering, installation, contracts, marketing, sales and R&D. I confess to having hung up my screwdriver fairly early in my career and concentrated on matters commercial and legal with a helping of finance and accounts from time to time. I spent 18 months as an expat in New York and ended my time with Marconi as manager of Central Division.
I moved on to join STC which was soon taken over by what became Nortel Networks where I stayed until I retired from full time employment in 2001. Yes, I have specialised in companies that disappear or end up going into administration!
Since retirement, I have done quite a lot of voluntary work (Essex Air Ambulance and Citizens Advice) and have also served as a member nominated Trustee for my Nortel UK pension fund since 2008. I worked for a short time for the government Pension Wise service and do voluntary work for the Pensions Ombudsman service. From engineering to pensions – quite a leap!
So, what have your Committee been up to in the past year?
I took a look at various aspects of MVA activities and have made a few changes:
- We have given the website a facelift so many thanks to Mark and Chris. Please take a look – your comments would be much appreciated.
- We have also generated a new look for the newsletter – again, your thoughts would be welcomed and thanks once more to Mark for all his efforts.
- A small change to the constitution is proposed for your consideration – it seems more appropriate to re brand MVA Friends as Associates.
We struggled trying to contain the costs for the Reunion lunch and have had to increase both the lunch cost and the annual subscription whilst excluding the cheese and biscuits course from our meal. Before taking this decision, we looked at costs for alternative venues and came to the conclusion that our current venue is still cost effective mainly because Hamptons Sports and Leisure continue to support our event by waiving venue hire charges. We would like to thank the management of Hamptons for this ongoing assistance. Rest assured that we will continue to monitor suitable alternatives for future years.
May I draw your attention to the Questionnaire on the back of the Reunion application form which contains seven questions for you to respond to with space to add your own comments on a couple of topics. You will quickly note that most of the questions are aimed at understanding your views in case we have to take further action to contain rising costs and also embracing at least some modern technology.
We continue to be supported by Leonardo UK for our newsletter printing and postage costs so I am sure you will all want to join myself and the Committee in expressing our profound gratitude for this valuable service. I know we could resort to email communications but I for one still like papers in my hand for some things rather than a screen!
Whilst on the subject of finances, many of you may have noticed that we are gradually eating(!) into our bank balance and annual subscriptions (plus voluntary donations) are our only source of income. This is not an issue in itself since it is your money, but we do have to take a view on how much longer the MVA might be expected to exist! Food for thought!
I had some concerns about our approach to the latest data protection requirements (GDPR) so you can no longer see lists of current veterans and their former places of employment on the website. You will see that the Reunion Application Form explains our GDPR approach and asks you to tick the box (just above the Absent Friends section) to indicate your agreement to the MVA keeping your personal details.
Do you know of any former work colleagues who might qualify as Veterans and be interested in joining us? Do let us know or ask them to contact our Secretary. Also, I note that our Committee is somewhat Marconi Comms heavy – if any Veteran from other parts of Marconi might be interested in joining us then do let our Secretary know and we will keep your details on record for when a vacancy occurs.
Now some information about the plans for our Reunion :
Our President this year is our former Secretary, Veteran Barry Powell who is joined by his guest Professor Schnurr, who was one of Barry’s former lecturers at the Mid-Essex Technical College. We look forward to hearing about his association with Marconi students and some entertaining anecdotes!
As most of you will know, 2020 is the Centenary of the world’s first entertainment broadcast by the operatic soprano Dame Nellie Melba on June 15, 1920 from our New Street factory. I am delighted to tell you that the author, journalist, broadcaster and historic consultant Tim Wander has agreed to join us at our 2020 Reunion together with his wife Judith. Tim worked for Marconi for some 17 years worldwide including at Writtle and he published “2MT Writtle – The Birth of British Broadcasting” in 1988 as well as a number of other Marconi related publications. He has also been associated with the Hall Street Museum project and the Sandford Mill Museum. He is currently actively involved in preparations for exhibitions and lectures in Chelmsford to celebrate Dame Nellie Melba’s historic Radio concert.
In Summary ...
We are indeed privileged to have two guest speakers for this special 2020 celebration of our founder Marconi and it is fitting that the annual Reunion falls on his birthday.
I look forward to welcoming you all to the Reunion – get your reservations in early!