The National AGM in London took place last weekend 12th to 14th April. We celebrated our 80th birthday by beginning with a substantial Buffet/Carvery in the Strand Hotel on Friday evening where we were joined by our husbands and friends. This was a fun experience during which we were entertained by the Pearly Kings & Queens Society who work to raise money for many different charities. Some of their members leading us all in the 'Old time' songs.
The AGM itself was on Saturday morning and 59 members of the Watch ashore from across the UK listened to reports from each of the Branches. We also discussed the possibility of continued mutual support for wives and partners of working Merchant Navy personnel by reaching 'the younger generation' using IT technology, with the use of our Web site and with the help of the Merchant Navy Welfare Board and Seafarers UK. We were pleased to present last years Chairman, Margaret Gray, with a cheque for £900 for the Bench and Tree at the National Arbouratum.
A Black Tie Dinner that evening was held at Trinity House. We were honoured to receive a communication from Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal wishing us a happy birthday and an enjoyable meal. The Revd. Canon Ken Peters from Mission to Seafarers said grace. As Captain David Parsons of the Merchant Navy Welfare Board was unable to attend through illness, Captain John Rankin ably proposed the toast to the Merchant Navy. To which Mr Mark Longford FCH replied. The toast to the Watch Ashore was given by Captain Chris Spencer, standing in for Mr Peter McEwen MBE who was also unwell and not able to attend. Amoung our guests were Katie Longford, and Alexander & Husband Robin Sard from Seafarers UK. We all had a superb meal in beautiful surroundings in spite of various hiccups.
On the Sunday we rounded off the weekend with Afternoon Tea on HQS Wellington at Temple Stairs, where Captain John Freestone and our Chairman Mrs Chris Rankin MBE cut the birthday cake with a long sword. Our thanks are given to Nautilus International, Seafarers Uk, Navigators and General, and Trinity House for their generous support in easing our personal expenditure and making this AGM weekend possible.