|Looking every bit the 30+ years older . . . at the RAFHAA Museum in the former Henderson Gym|
Potentially quite an emotional milestone, this year - well, LAST year (Sep 2016) as I write this in May 2017 . . .
It seems that a perfect storm of factors are converging to change the way things have been, in terms of the regular RAFHAA Triennials:
1. The RAFHAA is possibly ceasing to function since there just aren't enough people volunteering to take on the various roles required to run the organisation. It's transitioning into providing a legacy website and using the assn's funding for sponsoring future aircraft engineering apprenticeships (TEAL 2020) for individuals. More on that here.
2. RAF Halton is going to be closed and the land sold off by 2022.
Therefore it was announced in a HAA newsletter last year that this would likely be the last reunion of its kind at Halton. In fact, as we arrived to check-in for the event, we were told that it was almost cancelled two weeks before and only last minute intervention with the interim Station Commander saved the day, but it was very close.
We await the report from the HAA's postponed AGM (Sept 2017). Some more on this can be read here .
HAVING SAID THAT - the 2016 Reunion was another great weekend outing of fun, frivolity, rekindled stories and friendships. I think about 18 of us turned up in the end - some just for the day. In the above photo, I (Hodge) am missing as I'm behind the camera . . .
While we were in the museum, someone spotted that our own AVM Mike Quigley was missing from the Apprentices Hall of Fame where our ex-Appos reaching Air rank appeared in profile. Right after the event we worked with Min Larkin and Mike to have that sorted. 139 Entry now has its representative on that wall. Well done Mike, an incredible career and personal achievement. We also recognised the sterling achievements of our other (possibly only two) remaining serving members, WO's Mike Inder and Steve Ward. Well done, Gents! We have not been in contact with Steve, but Mike I informs us his last whereabouts was SWO at RAF Leeming, or was it Dishforth?? Love to hear from you, Steve.
The night before the Triennial was spent in the barrack blocks - single man rooms and not a bull night in sight! Eating in the Mess and off to the Sergeants Mess for drinks. At £15 for a round of about 16 beers, a good night was had by all and 139s seemed to be the best represented numbers in the bar.
On Henderson Parade square the next day, 139's were by far the only substantial Entry turnout from (at least) the 130's onwards. There were (literally) only two ex appos there (behind us in the parade by Entry order) from 140 onwards to the last Appo Entry (155's?).
Aside from the day at the Triennial, we had a night in Aylesbury - dining in fine style at The Broad Leys (superb food, service and atmosphere) followed by drinks around the town and crashing back to the hotel in the early hours.
Could have been the last time meeting at RAF Halton, our spiritual home.
For more info on 139's head over to our Facebook group page - I know, I know, we old men don't really like FB that much - but it works because it's convenient!!
Next Reunion is being held in the Lake District in October 2017. Organised by Mike Quigley in his home area. Come along!