-H.M.S. Hood Association Online Archive-
May 2007 H.M.S. Hood Association Reunion
Updated 06-May-2014

Our own Frank Allen and Paul Bevand wrote and provided some of the photos for the following account of this year's events.

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The weekend of 26-27 May 2007 saw members of the H.M.S. Hood Association and assorted guests come together for the 32nd annual Association reunion. The gathering was based at the wonderful Royal Maritime Club (formerly the Royal Sailors Home Club) in Portsmouth, UK. The events consisted of an Annual General Meeting (AGM), reunion dinner and a memorial service.

Saturday 26 May 2007 - Annual General Meeting and Reunion Dinner
The Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held from 1600 to roughly 1640 hours in Brock's Bar. Various items of interest were discussed and Committee elections were held. One major resolution that passed was that Hood veterans will now receive free membership for life. Association members will be briefed on the meeting specifics in one of the upcoming newsletters.

The Royal Maritime Club at night
The Royal Maritime Club
Click to enlarge.

Following the AGM, people prepared for the dinner or waited nearby in the Compass Room. Everyone assembled in the ballroom at 1830 with dinner commencing shortly after 1900 hours. The ballroom itself was an impressive site:  it was decorated with various flags as well as dozens of photos spanning Hood's career. Also present were various volumes of Hood-specific information and a superb 1920 model of Hood by Colin Vass. In addition to these, there were also photos of 635 men who died in the sinking of Hood. These, along with an original 1930s era Union Flag from Hood (courtesy of Jim Sikorski) and a brand new Roll of Honour, occupied an entire corner of the ballroom.

There were approximately 88 Association members and guests in attendance. Among these were eight veterans of Hood (Ted Briggs, Ken "Nobby" Clark, Keith Evans, Alec Kellaway, Robert Philpott, Fred Rockey, Bill Stone and Cy Thistlethwaite).

Sadly, some familiar faces were not to be seen: our Patron Lord Hood and his lovely wife, plus Chairman Peter Heys and Chaplain Ron Paterson were all unable to attend. There were some other particularly glaring absences this year: veterans Dixie Dean, Eddie Goggins, Frank Pavey and Jim Taylor. Sadly, they had all "crossed the bar" since the last reunion. Their absence was keenly felt.

The 2007 Association dinner
The 2007 dinner
Click to enlarge.

In demographic terms, most of the people present came from the United Kingdom.  There were however, a handful of people who came from elsewhere. Among these were Jim Sikorski and our webmaster, Frank Allen who had flown in from the United States plus Mr and Mrs Pelkonen from Sweden. Also present, at the invitation of the Association, was a very special delegation from the L'Association des Anciens Marins de Mers-el-Kébir of France consisting of Herve Grall, Bernard Madec and André Jaffre. Herve and Bernard both lost their fathers in the unfortunate action of 03 July 1940. André is a survivor of the warship Bretagne which was lost that day. These gentleman were absolutely wonderful and it was an honour to have them with us.

The Top Table was manned this year by Nobby Clark, Paul Bevand, Guest of Honour Robert Philpott, President Ted Briggs, Vice-Chairman Keith Evans, special guest Ms. Vivienne Wood, and Master of Ceremonies Derick Colins (who did a smashing job at keeping the event moving along). Ms Wood, the Banqueting Manager of the Royal Maritime Club, was a special addition to the table at the request of Ted Briggs: She has been instrumental in ensuring the Association gathering has gone off well for many years. This was our way of saying thanks for always being there for us.

Memorial photos and Hood flag
Memorial photos & Hood flag
Click to enlarge.

We were also very fortunate to have with us once again, Sir Harold Walker KCMG and his lovely wife.  Sir Harold, a distinguished diplomat, is the son of H.T.C. "Hooky" Walker, the tenth captain of Hood. In addition to the Walkers, Dr Eric Grove and Rob White, men from the team who found the wreck of Hood were in attendance.  Their lovely wives were with them as well. Lastly, Duncan MacDonald-Heaney and Tony Green, the men who orchestrated the recent London memorial re-dedication, were also present.

This year's menu consisted of watercress soup, followed by lamb shank (braised in root vegetable and red wine sauce), potatoes, broccoli and corn.  It was particularly delicious.  This was followed by a desert of raspberry pavlova, then cheese and biscuits. Lastly, coffee and mints were served. This year's meal was especially good.

After dinner, toasts were made to The Queen, our Guest of Honour, the ladies and of course, absent friends. Following the toasts, our Guest of Honour, Robert Philpott  was introduced.  Robert was presented with a lovely engraved brass bell by Association Vice-Chairman Keith Evans.  Afterwards, Robert gave a witty and truly delightful speech about his service aboard Hood (1935 and 1940).   You can read more about Robert's naval service by clicking here.

Robert Philpotts new bell
Robert Philpott's new bell
Click to enlarge.

After the speech and presentation, the annual raffle took place.  Derick Collins, MBE conducted raffle assisted by our webmaster, Frank Allen.  There were a variety of prizes available this year. Things ranging from expensive whiskey to a giant stuffed dinosaur. The peculiar thing about this year's raffle is that there were a large amount of multiple winners (meaning several people won more than one item). Of course, its simply the luck of the draw.

The evening wound to a close afterwards with people chatting and having nightcaps between the ballroom and Brock's Bar. Following the closing of Brock's Bar at midnight, some people went out to the Compass Room and gradually drifted to their respective rooms. It had been an excellent evening.

As always, the meal, facilities and staff were spectacular. We heartily salute the staff of the Royal Maritime Club for their hard work and support.

Sunday, 27 May 2007- The St. George's Church Service
People gathered for breakfast and then assembled in the Compass Room. The weather, unfortunately, was a repeat of last year- cold temperatures, driving wind and rain. It was too dismal and dangerous for many of the veterans to safely march to church. It was decided, therefore, to take a coach (courtesy of H.M.S. Collingwood). The band from T.S. Tenacity, however, decided to brave the elements and march to church anyway. After some delay (there was some misunderstanding about the police escort), they arrived.

The church appeared to be all full up for the service. Whilst awaiting the arrival of Tenacity's band, the various standards were brought in and wreaths were presented. Chaplain of the Fleet, the venerable John Green addressed the congregation until the arrival of the Tenacity band. He was positively delightful- humorous and inspiring at the same time.

Cadets from Collingwood
Cadets from Collingwood.
Click to enlarge.

The service eventually commenced in earnest. The Fleet Chaplain was assisted by St George's vicar, Karina Green. Piano accompaniment was provided once again by Miss Tracey Dean. As we've already mentioned, the Fleet Chaplain was absolutely delightful. Rev Green (Karina) did her usual wonderful job as well. In addition to the chaplains, some of the young cadets from H.M.S. Collingwood also took part in the service. They led some of the readings and prayers. They did a very admirable job and should be very proud. Well done cadets!

During the service, the H.M.S. Hood Association presented a framed phot of Hood to Herve Grall and the L'Association Mers-el-Kebir as a thank you for the hospitality they showed our Association delegation during our July 2006 visit to Brest. It was also a symbol of the friendship between our Associations and for our support in their very noble cause (to repatriate the remains of their lost men from Algeria to France).

At the conclusion of the service, the bugler sounded the Last Post and Reveille. This was followed by cash presentations to Tracey the pianist, the bugler, the Guard of Honour, representatives of T.S. Tenacity and lastly, the Vicar.

Fleet Chaplain Green, left, and St Georges Vicar, Reverend Green, right
The Reverends.
Click to enlarge.

The rain had not abated, so everyone decided to take the coach back to the Royal Maritime Club. Everyone except the band from T.S. Tenacity that is. They had marched to the church and were determined to march back. Our intrepid webmaster decided to walk back alongside Tenacity's band. Upon return, the return, many people gathered inside for photos, toasts and/or lunch. All but a small handful of people were gone by the late afternoon. Those that remained either stayed in the Club, or went shopping at the nearby Gunwharf Quay shopping center, or toured the Portsmouth Royal Navy Museum (or one of the ships that were opened for visitors). A number of people braved the elements long enough to tour H.M.S. Kent.


Next Year's Reunion
Please take note that next year's reunion will take place at the Royal Maritime Club on Saturday, 24 May 2008. The St Georges Service of Remembrance will be on the following day, Sunday, 25 May 2008. The public service at Boldre will take place on a date to be announced...currently believed to be in early June 2008.

Additional Photos
Below are various photos from the reunion weekend. Click to enlarge.

A portion of the display   A view of the reunion dinner   A view of the reunion dinner   A view of the reunion dinner   Derick Collins speaks as Vivienne Wood and Ted Briggs listen
Derick Collins (left) and Keith Evans (right)   Robert Philpott speaks   Paul Bevand (left) chatting with Herve Grall (right)   The coach ride to church   The interior of St Georges
Herve Grall (left), Andre Jaffre (center) chatting with Bill Stone (seated) and his daughter Anne   TS Tenacity's band marching back from church   TS Tenacity's band marching back from church   Robert Philpott (left) and Andre Jaffre (right) return to the Royal Maritime Club   H.M.S. Kent, open for visitors