Page 127 - The Chapka 2016
P. 127

 Aliwal Dinner 2017
Due to the vast distances travelled by attendees the Aliwal Dinner is a two-day event. Veterans travelled on this occa- sion from United States, Austria, Germany, Spain and through- out the entire UK. A traditional casual Curry night was held on Friday 27th January and was attended by around 90 Veterans and their partners. Simon Pim Hogben is always on hand with his camera to ensure the event is saved for prosperity. Atmosphere, as in recent years is electric and created as always by the sheer volume of characters that now make the annual pilgrimage. A hearty Beef Madras and Chicken Korma with all the trimmings was enjoyed by all diners and with hotel being so generous an of- fered a second helping which was taken up by the few who didn’t totally fill their plates on the first trip through the hotplate. Ban- ter, sandbags, copious amounts of discounted drinks were now the order of the day and Lancers did not fail to disappoint. We have built up a healthy reputation with Holiday Inn over last four years, the bar is well stocked, Scarlet and Greens are on standby and bar staff were ready for an early morning finish. Our reputation remains intact as we lived up to hotels expectation as did the till receipts.
Breakfast tends to be quite fragile so some and invigorating for others, wives/partners decide where to go for a few hours, Na- tional Memorial Arboretum (a must-see visit), Dudley Living Museum or shopping at Ikea, Next or Boundary Mill or Bull Ring in Birmingham?
Chairman and his small team set up main restaurant for 172 attendees, 16 tables identified by 16/5L Battle Honours, Chair- man of Association letter, programmes and menus. Attendees again so generous began to produce a huge volume raffle prizes grouped together to produce a maximum of 12.
Seating plan goes up at around 4pm with dinner scheduled 7 for 7.30pm. We were pleased to be joined again by Major General Alistair Dennis CB OBE and his wife Caroline after a twelve- month absence together with six other Lancers who we had not seen for at least thirty years. After a 10 minute dinner call we entered restaurant to the music “Roast Beef” on a 35 second loop. Have you ever tried controlling 172 Ex-Lancers and guests, many trying to refresh their drinks with Chairman waiting to begin his introduction?
Chairman welcomed all attendees and took them all on a trip of United States, Europe and UK. Apologies were received from Brigadier Richard and Mrs Ginney Nixon-Eckersall, Colonel’s Charles Radford MC, Nick Wills OBE and Major Terry Mid- dlemas. Entertainment for night would be provided by “Steve Marks” son of Paul “Spud” Yeomans who would be singing “Bring him home” before Absent Friends Toast and a set after the dinner. We were also blessed with the company of Major (Retd) Phil Watson Assistant Regimental Secretary and Sergeant Anthony Davies from The Royal Lancers. Proceedings began with Major Tony Willmore and Aliwal Grace.
Keller Crew from Wolfenbuttel Days
During the dinner one could hear the increase in volume in the room, lamps swinging and sandbags in place. A combination of excellent table service and a lovely meal ensured total satisfac- tion. We were joined in the bar by a further thirty some Lancers from Walsall Branch and surrounding areas. A toast to Regiment announced by Shayne Myers, the Loyal Toast by Roy De Ste Croix and post an emotional rendition by Steve Marks of “Bring him home” Absent Friends by Chairman Steve Hopkinson. Chairman then thanked hotel, his support team including Raf- fle Girls, Sherrol Ward, Shirley Maxwell and Jackie Faulkner. A special thank you went out to Frank and Jo Foy, Frank leads our Cenotaph Parade, heads the Scarlet Lancers Archive Team and acts a Second-in-Command to Alan Stubbs as a Standard Bearer at Lancer funerals. He received an IOU 16/5L brass badge from Portcullis Brass with a brass plaque for his “Outstanding Con- tribution to the Scarlet Lancers” and Jo for her understanding, a box of Thornton’s Chocolate and a Handmade Bracelet. Chair- man then thanked everybody for supporting the weekend and making it so special. Then came a surprise, Jeff Neale entered the room and performed the Post Horn Gallop, he was brilliant, and it took us all back to intoxicating days when we had our own bands. Ken Frith then headed up Raffle, calling up the 12 lucky winners. Roy De Ste Croix auctioned a Robert Plant signed CD collection and 16L Cuff links, the pair raising over £300. Combi- nation of Raffle and Auction will fund our BBQ entertainment in June.
We retired to bar to be entertained by Steve Marks. Normally we would see a maximum of six or seven ladies dancing around their handbags and Melvin Bourne at 70 enjoyed a jive, but to see Lancers strutting their stuff and joined by many others sing- ing at the bar meant he went down a storm. Paul and Jeanette Yeomans were flying out to Spain a 3am otherwise Steve would have done another half an hour at the request of the hotel (He’s booked for 2018).
Drinking went on until the early hours and in fine Lancer fash- ion. Breakfast was a sombre affair with everybody reflecting on the previous excellent night and journey ahead. Also attendees were pleased to see Michael Henry at breakfast, he had been rushed to hospital as a result of low blood sugar levels and two bottles of red wine? Farewells exchanged, Lancers departed to all parts.
Chairman received a plethora of thank you’s on Facebook, letter and email, however one stood out from Simon Pim Hogben “I am trying to put things in perspective about the weekend just gone and have decided that it was probably one of thee best weekends of my life and was certainly the best re-union I have attended!”
No pressure for Chairman in 2018
Aliwal Dinner Branch will be hosting two further events a BBQ on 3rd June 2017 and Aliwal Curry/Dinner over weekend 26th /27th January 2018 (see page 124).
  Three Musketeers

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