The National AGM was held at the Holiday Inn, Tadcaster Road, York on the 15th and 16th April 2011.
After being warmly welcomed by the Nat. Executive Committee in the afternoon the branches met up together for the first evening entertainment. A most enjoyable buffet meal was followed by a very talented entertainer, Judith Hibbert who had performed at our previous Triennial in Hull, and had been a great hit with the ladies on that occasion. She treated us again and, as she described it, as an affectionate tribute to some of our greats such as Gracie Fields, Joyce Grenville and many more with the aid of a trunk containing a selection of various props such as a wonderful variety of hats! The room just filled with laughter the whole time she performed.
Formal dinner group photo with Mark Longford and his wife Kate
The buffet evening always gives the members the chance to catch up with each other's news and as usual there was no shortage of conversation!
The AGM meeting was held on the Saturday morning and as well as the normal business there was a good discussion on other topics such as the growing trend of worldwide piracy being a particular concern.
The rest of the day was free for the ladies to explore York's many attractions and to do some serious shopping!
Later the ladies met up for the wine reception followed by the formal dinner with our main guest speaker, Mr Mark Longford, Operations Manager of the Navigators and General Insurance Company. Through researching his company's history involving a certain Captain H. Coombs he discovered the link between the Navigators, as it's affectionately known, and The Watch Ashore as Captain Coomb's wife Irene had helped found it. The company is celebrating its ninetieth anniversary this year 2011 and so this was an opportunity to celebrate together, especially with a gifted glass of champagne each!
Mark Longford's speech was a fascinating insight into the history of Captain Coombs and the setting up of the Navigators which did so much to help improve extremely difficult conditions in the Merchant Navy especially in the 1920s. The speech can be read in full on On the Sunday morning the members were taken by coach to Castle Howard, an 18th century house situated in 1000 acres of beautiful parkland with temples, statues lakes and fountains. During the visit the group enjoyed a Victorian Etiquette Afternoon Tea finishing with tea leaf readings which held a few surprises!
Nat. Chairman Margaret Gray handing over floral arrangement to Mr Mark Longford at formal dinner.
On returning to the hotel later in the afternoon farewells were made to those returning home that day while a few remained to stay an extra night.
General opinion was it had been a very successful weekend and The Watch Ashore now looks forward to our Triennial in Plymouth on the 10th 11th 12th May next year 2012 which promises to be yet another special Triennial.
Download Captain William H. Coombs and ‘The Navigators’ based on a talk given to members and guests of The Watch Ashore to commemorate the 90th Anniversary of Navigators & General on 1 March 2011. (Mark Longford FCII, Operations Manager, Navigators & General. Spring 2011) >>