Page 219 - MBS 2022/23
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  Pyle carrying the Branch Standard. Dave’s lovely wife Anne was grateful for all the support she received from the Branch during this difficult time for her.
On a brighter note our most senior member is George Bleasby who will be celebrating his 100th birthday on 27th April 2023. Through maintaining contact with George, I know that he still leads a full and active life despite having some mobility and sight issues. He remains actively involved with his local church, regularly playing the organ at services, only recently deciding to give up ringing church bells which he has done for so many years in so many places. This year’s Branch Dinner took place just five weeks ahead of his 100th birthday and it was my great pleasure to arrange for George to attend as Guest of Honour, along with three of his lovely daughters Pauline, Jenny and Julie. George took everyone (except me) by surprise and became an immediate sensation by performing his incredible Indian Club Swinging routine prior to the start of the Dinner. More of that to come later and I have also submitted a separate brief article dedicated to George for inclusion in this MBS.
Tony Mee continues to provide care for his lovely wife Sally who is so sadly suffering from Huntington’s Disease. Tony has had to reduce his involvement in professional football coaching and concentrate on caring for Sally and he shows the most incredible strength and fortitude in managing these difficult personal circumstances whilst also taking every opportunity to raise funds to donate to the Huntington’s Disease Association (HDA). He is donating all the proceeds from the sale of his published football coaching book to the HDA Charity, which so far is in the region of £5,000. The Branch continues to take its welfare role very seriously by actively engaging with members considered to be in need. Communication between the Branch and the Regimental Secretary is as good as I can remember which is of vital importance to all concerned.
Alec Porter, Brian Pyle, Tom Mulligan, Dicky Parker, Pete Harburn and Dave Huffen have initiated a Branch Golf Society to get together for some casual rounds to supplement the Annual Branch Golf Competition. A separate Branch Golf report is included in this MBS edition.
The 2023 Branch Reunion gathering took place over the weekend of 24th/25th March, once again at the Park Inn Hotel in York with large numbers attending the Friday social evening to enjoy a two course buffet and fundraising raffle followed by the formal Saturday Dinner with another excellent attendance as usual. This year Dave Smith was flying solo (but ably assisted by Geoff and Shelley Chapman
and Pete and Lesley Harburn) as the other Dave and his long suffering wife Cathy were away on a cruise to celebrate 50 years of blissful and harmonious marriage. Talk about getting your priorities right! It was a pleasure to again welcome Lt Col (SMAA) Jason Hughes and his delightful wife Geri to their second North East Branch gathering though sadly we were to learn that it would be his last attending in his capacity as SMAA. Jason was looking remarkably fit and well considering he had not long recovered from hip replacement surgery, and sadly it seems more surgery is on the horizon. Jason has assured me that he and Geri will continue to attend after his retirement and we look forward to welcoming them back in future years. Also in attendance was the new Regimental Secretary Lt Col (Retd) Steve Collinson, well known to us from his previous life as SMAA, and also the Corps Sergeant Major Duncan Southern-Naylor who had ventured ‘up North’ to us for the very first time.
The informal Friday social evening provided the ideal opportunity for people to circulate and catch up with friends old and new. The two-course buffet meal was excellent and the bar staff were kept extremely busy. Dave Smith had once again come up trumps with a fantastic selection of donated raffle prizes which resulted in £350 being raised to go into Branch funds to be used for the benefit of the members. Saturday morning activities got underway with the Annual Branch Golf Competition at the Forest of Galtres Golf Club in Skelton and the ever-popular Mini Golf Competition hosted by Geoff and Shelley Chapman, whilst others ventured out into the hustle and bustle of the great city of York which has so much to see and do.
On to the Saturday evening festivities and, whilst the AGM was taking place, members and guests gathered for complimentary pre-dinner drinks before moving to the main function suite for Dinner. Once again, the room and setting looked absolutely spectacular. Looking out at everyone gathered in the room, smiling and happily chatting away makes you realise that all the hard work and effort that goes into organising these events is so well worthwhile. In particular,
Tom Mulligan, Pete Harburn, Dicky Parker, Brian Pyle & Alec Porter at Ripon City Golf Club
it was wonderful to see Jean Ions with us, accompanied as usual by her lovely daughter Karen and wonderful son-in- law Martin. Jean had recently had a nasty fall downstairs, fracturing her femur and spending a lot of time in hospital and having rehab. Though still bravely wearing a leg brace and sporting crutches, she said she would not have missed it for the World.
The Dinner proceedings got off to a sensational start with 99 years young George Bleasby demonstrating amazing strength, skill, dexterity and coordination with his Indian Club Swinging routine which lasted over one and a half minutes. I doubt that many in the room could have replicated this routine and George quite rightly received a standing ovation before being presented with a signed copy of the ‘Fit to Fight’ Corps History Book by the SMAA Jason Hughes.
The hotel staff were extremely friendly and helpful, the service quite excellent and the food was absolutely superb. The fun table quiz went down well with the promise of a small prize for the first table to successfully complete it. Competitive as ever, five tables claimed to have finished first but luckily I managed to find enough prizes to keep everyone happy. The star prize draw for a complimentary stay at the hotel was won by Sonia Statham, much to Barry’s (and his wallet’s) delight. Following the meal, the loyal toasts were observed and we were treated to the traditional spectacle of Danny Newman, Pat Kaufman, Pete Harburn and Duncan Southern-Naylor performing headstands as the Corps March was sung with great gusto. Following the toasts, the SMAA was invited to present the prizes for the Mini Golf and main Golf Competitions after which he went on to eloquently deliver a most interesting and informative update on current military and Corps matters.
Tom Mulligan Annual Branch Golf Competition Winner

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