The H.M.S. Hood Association Online Archive
H.M.S. Hood Association Reunion and Gatherings, May 2000
Updated 06-May-2014

Our own Paul Bevand wrote the following account of this year's events.
Additionally, special thanks to John England and Mike Ware for providing the photos seen here.

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On Saturday 20th May 2000, Hood Association members from throughout the UK travelled to Portsmouth to meet up at the Royal Sailors Home Club for their Annual Reunion and Dinner. The Association was particularly pleased to welcome two members from overseas: John England, who had travelled from his home in Berlin and Mr K. Higgott who had come all the way from South Africa.

At 5.00PM members assembled and were brought to order by President Ted Briggs for the Annual General Meeting. The Committee all stood for re-election and were unanimously returned by Association members who thanked them for their work during the past years. Dates for the reunions to be held next year and in 2002 were also discussed and agreed. Although 2002 seems a long way ahead it was felt important that we booked the Royal Sailors Home Club early to ensure that we secured the date nearest to 24th May.

One or two members raised concerns that they had and few new members introduced themselves. Some members said that they were not clear about what the web site and e-mail was all about so I did my best to explain that to them! Ted said, although he was not up to speed on the technology himself, he very much appreciated what we were doing to keep the great name of Hood in the forefront of the public eye.

At the conclusion of the AGM, a short interval followed before it was time for members to assemble for the dinner - a full 3 course meal followed by cheeseboard, coffee and mints. Hands were piped to dinner in the traditional naval way by shipmate Frank Pavey.

After dining there followed the speeches and toasts: Association Chairman JR Williams introduced our Guest of Honour, Bill Stone. Bill is in his hundredth year, and will celebrate his birthday in September. JR told us that Bill had been born whilst the Boer War was still being fought and whilst Queen Victoria was still in the throne followed by an outline of Bills 27 year career in the Royal Navy. JR then brought the house down by telling us "and all this happened before we were born!"

Bill then rose and replied thanking JR for his kind words and the Association for having him as their Guest of Honour. As usual Bill seemed completely at ease. At the end of his short speech he burst into song with an excellent rendition of "All the nice girls love a sailor." After the formalities members mixed, chatted and exchanged memories for the rest of the evening.

The following morning started with a hearty full English breakfast. Members then gathered in the Compass Room of the Home Club awaiting the start of the days events. At around 10.30 cadets from TS Sultan who were to form the guard for the march and cadets from the band of TS Tenacity arrived and made their preparations.

At 10.45 we were called to order by Lieutenant Roy Dumbleton. Roy ordered us to muster outside the Home Club and for those who were going to march to form into ranks. By 11.10 all ranks were formed up. The band of TS Tenacity led off, followed by the members of the Hood Association. The Association group itself was headed by President Ted Briggs and consisted both of veterans and of younger members. At the rear came the guard formed by the cadets of TS Sultan.

The parade right wheeled past the Home Club where the salute was taken by Mary Tilburn, widow of Hood survivor Bob Tilburn. The march continued with the band playing a mixture of stirring tunes - both traditional naval tunes and more modern songs.

As the group reached the front, the weather, which was already blustery, deteriorated rapidly and within seconds everyone had been drenched by a heavy shower. Fortunately the church - St Georges in the Dockyard - was only a matter of a hundred yards of so away and we were all soon safely inside and drying off. Ever resourceful, Rob White was on hand with rolls of paper towels to assist the drying-out process.

We were all welcomed to the church by the Hood Association Chaplain, the Reverend Ronald Patterson. Ron introduced St. Georges new Parish Priest, the Reverend Robert Orchin who had only been installed a week of so before. The standard of the Hood Association was laid on the altar for the service and Mary Tilburn laid a wreath in memory of those lost.

Following this two presentations to the church from the Hood Association were made. Association President Ted Briggs presented a framed print of Hood and Treasurer Ken "Nobby" Clark presented a Roll of Honour in memory of all those who were lost. The Roll of Honour had been made by Henry Johnston whose brother, Able Seaman James Johnston had been lost with the ship.

The Reverend Orchin thanked the Association for their kind gifts and assured us that a suitable place for each would be found once the builders had finished their work (St. Georges is currently in the middle of fairly extensive restoration work.) The service followed. This included two lovely anthems sung by the small but talented choir of the church.

The address was given by Rob White, producer of the ITN documentary "The Mighty Hood". Rob recalled how the production of the documentary had been a team effort with each member of the production crew, the Hood Association and the crew of the Danish ship "Triton" giving their individual contribution and helping out to the benefit of the overall cause. This, Rob said was the same effort that the veterans knew so well from their days in Hood. The floating town constituted by the Hood needed the efforts and contributions of all if the ship was to run at her most efficient. Looking at the present Rob saw analogies to the Hood Association where shipmates old and new came together to help and support one another. An excellent, thought provoking address Rob.

The service continued with the lesson, taken from St. Johns Gospel, which was emotively read read by Ted Briggs. Hood Association Chaplain the Reverend Ronald Patterson then gave the address. Ron thanked us all for coming and welcomed in particular this years Guest Of Honour, Bill Stone. Bill took little encouragement from Ron to burst into another rendition of "All the nice girls love a sailor" and joined in the first verse by many shipmates. The second verse was a solo in which Bill again proved himself to be in fine voice.

Ron also introduced Nixie Taverner the adopted daughter of Commander Rory O'Conor of whom many shipmates had fond memories from their times in Hood during the early and middle 1930s. Nixie is at the moment in the process of writing a book about Hood and of her fathers naval career. Ron said that we would all look forward to the publication of the book.

After the service there was about 15 minutes in which members were able to exchange words before ranks were formed up for the march back to the Home Club. Unfortunately, the return march was to prove even wetter than the march to church. By the time the formation was on the front the heavens had really opened and one and all were again to suffer a drenching. As a confirmed landlubber I cowered in the doorways hoping that the rain would abate. Undaunted, the veterans and their escorts marched on as I listened to the music fading into the distance. Once more the Hood veterans proved that neither years nor weather had any effect whatever on their spirit.

When I got back to the Home Club I found Rob again helping everyone dry off. Members once more assembled in the Compass room to exchange a few words before saying good bye. John England from Berlin had brought a tape with him of the visit of some of the German veterans to last years reunion and many of the veterans stayed to watch that with John before making their way home for another year.

On the Sunday following the Annual Reunion, Association members gathered at the Church of St. John the Baptist in Boldre for a service of commemoration. Click here to learn more about this beautiful old church and its "Hood Chapel."