Italy Star Association AGM and Reunion Weekend 2017
Annual Reunion 2017
It had been almost 16 months since our last reunion, but the day had finally dawned for the Italy Star Association Reunion 2017. Members travelled from all over the country to our new venue, Mill Rythe Holiday Village, Hayling Island.
This year the weekend was entitled “Military Heroes” and the Italy Star Association shared the accommodation with H.M.S. Illustrious Association and the Algerines Association, so Mill Rythe was full to bursting.
The weather was not kind for the journey, the whole country has seen large downpours of rain. So members were very pleased to be greeted on arrival by the Magazine Editor/Web site Editor Robin Hollamby who, once they had checked in showed people where they would be seated in the restaurant and where to find their accommodation. After settling into their rooms, members transferred to the restaurant where they enjoyed a wonderful three course meal. Next on the agenda was the evening entertainment – cabaret or for the more energetic amongst us dancing, or perhaps a quiet drink in the conservatory to catch up with old friends/ comrades.
On the Saturday morning we woke up to a beautiful day, the calm after the storm. The main item on the agenda today was the A.G.M. After a hearty breakfast, members headed over to the Marina Cafe, a beautiful glass building ready for the A.G.M. Veteran John Dent open the proceedings by reciting the Exhortation and then it was down to business. During the A.G.M. the new constitution was adopted. Then, once the business part of the meeting was completed, coffee was served along with a slice of cake which was baked and decorated by Headquarters member Freda Cross to mark the Associations 30th Anniversary.
The rest of the day was spent at leisure. The more active indulged in swimming (in the heated pool), or walking along the costal path whilst others went into Havant for some retail therapy or tried out local eateries.
After another substantial evening meal we retreated to the Ballroom, some chose to play a quick game of Bingo, (congratulations to Viv Marks on her winning streak), while others waited to be entertained by musician/singer Andy Eastwood. A very talented man who played the guitar, banjo and violin to name but a few of the instruments he used. Then a short musical interlude for those who wished to take a turn around the dance floor before another performance, this time by The Sundaes, a female trio. The resident band Jetset then returned for yet more dancing before it was time for people to retire for the night.
On the Sunday we were woken up with sun streaming in through the windows, but sadly this did not last for long before the skies turned overcast and the wind started to blow. However, nothing was going to stop our Drumhead Service being held in the open air. The veterans of the Italian Campaign are made of hardy stuff. So, with Standard Bearers in position. Nine cadets and five officers from Training Ship Active MTC, under the direction of Sub Lieutenant Ian Trigg ready to make the altar from their drums and an armed escort for the Union Flag. Scott ready to play the Last Post and Reveille on his bugle and the Right Reverend Paul Miles – Knight (Chaplain to the East Hants Branch) ready to conduct the service. Members of the Association and members of the other associations present took up their places. Veteran Charles Cufflin was the Parade Marshall, with all the Standard Bearers responding quickly to his commands. During the service, Frank Horn (Veteran and former East Kent Branch Chairman) recited the Exhortation with all present responding “we do remember them.” The Chaplain, whose Grandfather fought in the Italian Campaign made the service very personal to the I.S.A. members. All those present remarked how poignant the service was and how well the cadets, the youngest of whom was 9 years old had performed. Indeed their behaviour and marching was impeccable.
The afternoon was “free”. A number of activities were put on by the holiday village but there was no compulsion to join in. There was also an exhibition of model warships by the Surface Warships Association Where highly detailed warships from both the First and Second World Wars as well as one ship from the Falklands conflict were displayed. Some members of the Surface Warships Association could be viewed putting the finishing touches to models which they hope to exhibit in the future.
The final night of entertainment was a mixture of dancing and entertainment. The entertainment being a cast production show which told the story of Dame Vera Lynn, the Forces Sweetheart, featuring West End leading lady Jo Gibb.
All too quickly the final day of the reunion had arrived. After another hearty breakfast, bags were packed, cars loaded, taxis called and a final goodbye said, but not before arrangements were made to meet again next year – same time, same place! Mill Rythe Holiday Village 7th – 10th September 2018. Everyone one agreed that it had been another very successful reunion. Then it was off to Liverpool, Leicester, Loughton, London and a number of other destinations. Here’s to 2018!!!