The Association returned to Plymouth for the 2016 reunion, our last visit was in 2009.
The chosen venue was the Holiday Inn, with spectacular views across the Hoe. Our reunions are always spread across four days to give members a chance to attend the days that suit them best and attendance can be 1, 2, 3, or all four days. All very well organised by Isle of Wight Tours.
On Thursday afternoon the fist members began arriving to be greeted by our Isle of Wight tour rep. An evening meal in the roof top restaurant was followed by a social gathering in the bar.
Some members were up and out bright and early where they enjoyed a full day excursion. The Round Robin Trip took them on a steam train and a cruise along the river Dart spending the afternoon in Dartmouth.
As more members arrived, another wonderful meal was served in the roof top restaurant. Following dinner we retired to a private function room for a social evening. A great game of roll the £1 began, a tradition we have now adopted in rolling the £1 coin nearest to a bottle of Pussers. This year Paul was the lucky winner and very graciously donated his prized bottle of Pussers to the grand draw.
Our AGM paid homage to those shipmates and friends who have crossed the bar over the past year. TOT time followed the AGM and an afternoon of leisure.
Guest speaker this year at our Gala dinner was Commander Hugh Evans, who was thoroughly interesting and entertaining. The food, service and entertainment made for a wonderful evening. As per tradition the evening ended with a rendition of Rod Stewarts “Sailing” and everyone in the room joining in.
Sunday service was extra special. It was held in St Nicholas Church, HMS Drake and our own Canon Roger Devonshire was invited to take the service. Roger was very proud to be able to use the silver chalice that was donated by the Association in 2005 during the service.
A sumptuous lunch followed served in HMS Drake.
Some members began to embark on their journeys home, the hardcore supporters stayed there to do battle in the Quiz night fun.
Looking ahead now to 2017 reunion in Portsmouth that will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Association.
This will be held on 6-10th April at The Royal Beach Hotel, all bookings through Isle of Wight Tours. Tel 01983 405116
Holiday Inn, Chatham
Our 2015 HMS Hermes reunion was hosted by Isle of Wight Tours.
A very impressive check-in desk for Association members and their guests was ready to greet us. Tour representative Geoff was on hand throughout to greet everyone and ensure any special requirements were attended to.
The Association was returning to Chatham after fifteen years, a memorable weekend for those members who were at the Chatham reunion in 2000. The venue is the very same hotel although it has changed name and had a few makeovers in that time!
Traditions were followed and after dinner those members who arrived on Thursday enjoyed meeting up with friends once again.
Friday we were taken by coach to Chatham docks. The weather was good we made the most of it enjoying the outside attractions and of course the inside ones too, where a very nice cream tea was seen to be had by many in the Commissioners House tea room.
After dinner we were entertained in the Dehavilland suite, to round off a very enjoyable day!
Saturday morning we held our AGM followed of course by TOT time!
Up Spirits at 18.30 prompt, saw our ladies and gentlemen very elegantly dressed for our gala dinner.
Excellent food, a few fun games, raffle, dancing and enjoying the company of good friends followed.
Sunday morning we were treated to the excellent sounds of the Southampton Brass Band. Canon Roger Devonshire then led our beautiful service of commemoration. Members then made their way to the Chatham naval memorial where a wreath was laid by Vice President Bob Welch representing HMS Hermes 10.
The second wreath was laid by the daughters of H9 veterans in memory of Hermes 9.
A spray of flowers was also laid in memory of those lost in the sinking of Hermes 8 as those shipmates are commemorated at this memorial.
Imperial Hotel Blackpool
Thursday 10th April. A steady flow of Hermes shipmates and ladies began to arrive from midday onwards via ferry/car/train with only a few wrong turnings taken – all down to the sat navs of course!
Number 10 bar seemed to be the meeting point for most of the boys while the ladies did all the checking in and unpacking!
We were thrilled with the arrival of Stan Curtis our Hermes 9 veteran who was warmly welcomed into the Happy H gathering. The group was getting larger as we moved tables and chairs to accommodate our numbers.
At 18.00hs our reunion officially opened with drinks in the Louis Aperitif room and the HAPPY HERMES atmosphere was in the room as friends greeted each other once again. Dinner was served with a relaxing evening to follow.
Friday 11th April. Excellent service in the Palm Court room ensured we all had a good breakfast ready for our coach trip to Liverpool. Our first stop was at Liverpool Cathedral a beautiful impressive building that has the most wonderful architecture and stained glass windows it also has …….a licensed restaurant!
Our next stop was at the Metropolitan Cathedral; an equally impressive building of great beauty and amazing design. In each Cathedral a candle was lit for absent friends of the Hermes Association.
Free time then followed to enjoy Albert docks and the surrounding areas as far as you were willing to go. The weather stayed good and we were able to enjoy the riverside restaurants and the Maritime Museum. I think almost everyone enjoyed a Cornish ice cream prior to the coach back to our Hotel. (Some shipmates found this a nice relaxing drive back so much so we have photos of at least 8 of you fast asleep!)
Pre dinner drinks were again served in the Louis room prior to our evening meal. This was followed by a social evening where we had a name the Teddy Bear game, who was given the name Nelson! A tense game of roll the £1 for a bottle of Pussers rum followed. The tension increased as it was very nearly won by a woman when Maureen got very close…… but she was just beaten by Bert!
Saturday 12th April. We held our AGM at 10.30am in the very elegant Churchill room – a copy of the minutes will be sent to members with your next newsletter. The rest of the day was left to leisurely enjoy Blackpool.
Up Spirits at 18.30 was the start of our Gala dinner in the grand splendour of the Washington Ballroom, as always this was a wonderful evening and we were honoured to have in attendance Rear Admiral Richard Melly our UK President and his wife Lynne also our chaplain Canon Roger Devonshire and his wife Mary.
Thank you to every one who supported the auction and raffles during the evening your generosity will ensure us to have our memorial seat at Pangbourne naval college.
Sunday 13th April. The Washington ballroom transformed overnight into our very own HMS Hermes Chapel. Canon Roger Devonshire’s attention to detail created a beautiful setting and moving service complete with an original music recording of Eternal Father by HMS Hermes crew from 1982. Throughout this service Iain Shickle proudly displayed our Hermes Standard. We then gathered at Blackpool memorial for the laying of our wreath and time to remember our lost shipmates.
Blackpool RBL club provided us with a very welcome buffet lunch and some very talented artists kept us entertained for the afternoon. We had great pleasure in presenting the RBL club with some Hermes photographs for their collection. Our evening meal was in the Palm court room and this was a splendid meal to round off our day.
The hardcore members who still had the energy left to face the Quiz night gathered ready to do battle. It is fair to say the questions were ‘tricky’ but there were some fun answers given and as last year it went to a tie breaker and a new winning team who now have the task to set next years questions…………easy ones please!
During the evening there was a beautiful sunset over Blackpool to complete our weekend.
Monday 14th April. We all lingered over breakfast and slowly we began our goodbyes the cars/trains and ferry were calling once again to take us home along with more HAPPY HERMES MEMORIES.
Bosworth Hall is a beautiful country hotel and it reserves a bar just for us! So after our evening meal we gathered in our bar to enjoy a relaxing evening of chatting and catching up with friends. There is always a notable HAPPY HERMES buzz when shipmates begin to gather on the first evening.
Friday morning after breakfast our AGM was held and the rest of the day was spent at our leisure. Many enjoyed a pub lunch in the village that took us into late afternoon – the weather at last was beginning to look good for us even though snow could still be seen in the surrounding areas!
Up Spirits tradition led us into our Grand Gala dinner the guest of honour was Commander Tim Gedge. After our sumptuous meal and grand raffle we danced the night away and rounded off our evening with every single person up singing “Sailing”. It was good to welcome new members and also to have family members attending.
Saturday for those who wanted to go, a day trip to the Black Country Museum was arranged – the weather held out and a good time was had by all. Others chose to enjoy the swimming pool and excellent leisure facilities that the hotel had to offer and following our evening meal we were once again entertained by music.
Sunday Church service was in St James in the grounds of Bosworth Hall. Once again we were very proud to have two of our Hermes 9 survivors in attendance and our Standard was paraded alongside that of the local RBL. After church we walked the short distance to the memorial in the village where our chairman laid a wreath on behalf of the Association with our Hermes shipmates standing proudly.
Time for Up Spirits once again before we all sat down to Sunday lunch and a leisurely afternoon ready for the traditional Quiz night. This year it came with a difference with some of our shipmates who had already left for home joining via the wonders of Skype – this added much laughter to the evening and the quiz had tense moments when it had to go to a tie breaker alas the best team won again!
Monday morning those that were left said fond farewells our keeper of the rum barrel was seen carrying his raffle prize of a smoothy maker to his car so we are hoping there will be pussers smoothies on offer next year!
Another resounding successful Happy Hermes reunion.