I have had a pretty good first year – been thrown out of our reunion venue, cancelled the reunion at short notice and had two members of the Management Committee resign – not bad for starters...
Seriously, when I became Chairman in 2019, I was not expecting the challenges associated with the sale of Hamptons Sports & Leisure to the Chelmsford Muslim Society and the Covid-19 pandemic!
Hamptons agreed to honour existing reservations, so the 2020 Reunion could have continued complete with a fully functioning bar but it was clear that we would need a new venue for 2021 onwards. The preparations for the 2020 Reunion were well advanced (I had even prepared my speech!) so it was extremely disappointing to have to cancel the 2020 Reunion due to the pandemic lockdown. Fortunately, there was no financial exposure to the Association.
An investigation to find an alternative venue was conducted and the venues most suited to the needs of the Annual Reunion were Channels (but only available for weddings on a Friday and Saturday) and Pontlands Park. After I visited both venues, the Management Committee chose Pontlands Park for the April 2021 Annual Reunion and AGM. We had to move quickly on this since weekend weddings often book up venues a year or more in advance!
Pontlands Park is situated in extremely pleasant grounds and we would need to use their Marquee (with attached bar) to accommodate the usual number of Reunion attendees. Pontlands Park is also very close to the old Baddow Research site and where the CH Tower is located.
The CH Tower was granted Grade II Listed Building status in November 2020.
Click here to read more information on the CH Tower.
As we approached the end of 2020 it was becoming increasingly clear that it was most unlikely that a Reunion could take place in April 2021 – such events were then limited to 15 attendees and we would have needed to maintain the social distancing 2 metre rule – imagine the size of a table to seat just 6 of our members! The availability of vaccines was just being announced so we reasoned that April was likely to be too early to help us and since Pontlands Park had a Saturday available, we took the decision to move the 2021 Reunion to Saturday, 18th September.
So what did we achieve ...
First, thanks to all of you who completed the survey incorporated in our 2020 newsletter – your preferences were quite clear and have been used to plan the 2021 Reunion. Click here for a summary/analysis of all responses. Also, thanks to all who ticked the data protection (GDPR) box giving us permission to contact you and keep/use your personal details. This newsletter will only be sent to Veterans/Friends who ticked the box when returning their 2020 Reunion application – if you know of any members who did not return a 2020 application form then they need to do so to get this newsletter.
- We have now moved into the 21st Century and have set up online banking so members can choose to pay their annual subscription/Reunion costs by BACS and receive their tickets by email. As one member said in the survey – the MVA was the only organisation he ever wrote a cheque to!
- The Management Committee decided that the subject of the 2021 Coaster would be the CH Tower following its Grade II status as noted above.
- We now have two vacancies on the Management Committee. Interested? – I would particularly like to encourage non-Marconi Comms Veterans to apply so we can broaden the Committee representation.
- Since the 2020 Reunion had to be cancelled, our 2020 President, Barry Powell, will address the 2021 Reunion, and as planned, will be supported by his guest Professor Schnurr who was one of his former lecturers at the Mid-Essex Technical College. We look forward to some entertaining anecdotes!
- Veronica Reed has kindly agreed to be our 2021 President
Until last year, Veronica was the Manager at Hamptons Sports and Leisure.
Veronica started with Marconi in 1965 at the Small Quantity Group (SQG) at Widford, where they turned out amongst other products Radar aerials and Outside Broadcast Vans.
In 1987 Veronica moved to the Marconi Athletic and Social Club (MASC) and in 2008 took over from Ralph Coates as Manager.
In 2012 Veronica was heavily involved in the relocation and rebuilding of the MASC at the Hamptons location. It was her responsibility to ensure the facilities met the requirements of MASC members. In 2017 the premises were sold to Hamptons.
Many of us may not be aware that Veronica was unable to attend the Reunion lunch as she worked behind the scenes ensuring each Reunion was a success. Now that she has retired, she will be able to sit down with other Veterans and Friends. It is only fitting she does so as our President for 2021.
Proposed change to Veteran eligibility period
I have thought carefully about the current 21 year minimum period of total service with Marconi companies to qualify as a Veteran.
When I joined Marconi in 1960, it was not uncommon for UK employees to serve 20, 30, 40 or even 50 years with the same company. Over the years, this practice has changed significantly, and employees have become much more likely to work for many companies over their careers.
I asked myself what length of service would clearly move an employee from a specific job opportunity to a long term career choice. I came up with 15 years – arbitrary I know, but somehow it feels ‘right’. I consulted our Patron, Robbie Robertson, and he has given me his support on this issue. Following a robust discussion at a Management Committee meeting, a unanimous decision was taken to recommend that the constitution be changed from 21 years to 15 years. This will be on the agenda at the 2021 AGM.
And finally, my thanks …
- to Don Mott (sadly no longer with us - click here for Obituary) and Ken Earney for their many years of dedicated service on the Management Committee
- to Leonardo UK for our newsletter printing and postage costs. Their ongoing support is invaluable and very much appreciated
- to all members of the Management Committee for their continued support with particular mentions for our Secretary Colin who certainly has the lion’s share of the work needed to keep the Association (and myself!) on track, and to our website/newsletter editor, Mark, who keeps everything instantly up to date.