This page includes pictures and memories from some of the Christmas parties held at the Alexandra Bowls and Social Club since 2004
Our Christmas event was held on 12 December 2013 at our usual venue. Some who attended remarked that our numbers were slightly less this year, but were in fact at 57 the same as for 2012.
Several regulars did not make it, however, and perhaps this was the reason for the comments.
We sincerely hope everyone will try to make the next event which will mark 10 years of our twice yearly reunions.
Janet Barton’s photographs clearly show the mood of the Reunions as can be seen in the gallery below.
Our caterer Sally Gissing usually ‘pulls all the stops out’ for the Christmas buffet and most certainly did so this year, as our photograph shows. Sally has been providing our buffets from our first event held at the Bowling Club on 31st March 2004.
Our last meeting could hardly be called a Christmas Reunion as it just crept into December - on Tuesday 2nd December to be precise!
We sincerely apologise for this early arrangement, which was eventually agreed, taking account of committee members’ prior engagements.
Planning the event rather early, and on a Tuesday, meant opening Alexandra Bowling Club especially for WSTG. This had the advantage of using the club and Function Room bars and creating a more intimate arrangement.
Many of you who came along much preferred the layout and thought it was more cosy and friendly and encouraged people not to remain in separate groups. Comments suggested it made for a more enjoyable party and we should try to do this on a regular basis. However, for the June events the club is always open to club member and visiting bowling teams, making it difficult to accommodate any changes.
Our Christmas 2015 reunion took place on Tuesday 15th December at the Alexandra Bowls and Social Club, Portsmouth.
On Thursday 8th December 2011 we met once again for our eighth consecutive W.S.T.G. Christmas Reunion. The committee still finds it remarkable that colleagues support two meetings each year. Our Christmas events usually attract more than 60 applicants, and although there are one or two who do not arrive there is always a good crowd of ex-W.S.T.G. employees, several partners and old friends.
This seasonal event also attracts more colleagues from outside the local area. This year Roger Eves from Barrow in Furness came along once again, as did our regulars who migrated to the West of the country.
Our reunions never fail to bring surprises and often some sadness but rarely are they so closely associated as they were with this event.
Many of us knew that for quite a while Ray Hayhoe had not enjoyed good health. Indeed we had not seen Ray and his wife Gwenda at these functions for sometime. This time, however, they duly arrived, and old working colleagues were pleased to see that both of them were in quite good form, although Ray (like many of us) had some difficulty remembering a few names and faces.
Having enjoyed their company once again we were saddened to hear that Gwenda had died suddenly only a few days after this seasonal get together. Our sympathy and condolences were, of course, extended to Ray.
Like all our events the party was kept going by the well stocked bar and the buffet. We did run a bit low on puddings, but most were happy with the event and many went home with one of our seasonal raffle prizes. Our ladies’ free draw was won by Eileen Scutt who took away some Belgian chocolate biscuits.
Reunions usually run themselves. The committee only needs to arrange an appropriate venue and ensure there is good food and plenty of drink; attendees then "catch up" on what has happened since they last met.
By the time you read this you will probably have forgotten that for the second time in the same year the Portsmouth area had a substantial fall of snow. On 2nd December 2010 the day started with between 3 to 4inches of fresh snow; thoughts immediately turned to the forthcoming reunion exactly one week away. Could we be heading for a complete flop? Earlier in the year a similar fall of snow had disrupted travelling even the shortest distances, for well over a week! For our party, however, it was a fine dry day and almost everyone who had planned to come duly arrived.
Although this regular Christmas gathering was largely unaffected by the snow it did cause our caterer, Sally Gissing, some problems. Due to transportation difficulties in the frozen North whole fresh salmon, one of which usually appears cooked and garnished on our buffet table, had become as scarce as the "proverbial rocking-horse droppings". There were nevertheless tempting substitutes and it was still a pretty good seasonal spread.
What was notable about this event was that for the first time since we started organising these reunions, back in 2004, our numbers have started to decrease. Some of our regular supporters were missing and in many cases there has been no word on the "grapevine" as to their well-being. We are, indeed, keen to know how our colleagues are faring. Ron White had heard that Joe Cleall had been poorly and had to "take it steady" for a while. We do hope he gets well soon and is able to come along to our next function.
One of our Trials and Ranges colleagues, Bob Lindsay, who has tried on a couple of occasions get to the Christmas party, but has been prevented by illness and tragic circumstances made it this time and we hope he enjoyed it, as many old colleagues were surprised to see him.
Tony Morriss managed to make it too this year despite an aching back brought on by a new hobby – (hard) landscape gardening, at his home in the New Forest!
Our formula for the Christmas party remains very much unchanged with only a raffle that helps with our underlying expenses, a caption competition, the ladies Free Draw and a display of some photos from the past to interrupt the eating, drinking and chatter.
Our photo-display featured the Trials and Ranges Group where many original W.S.T.G. colleagues finished their careers in the MoD(N).
We continue to provide quality raffle prizes which we hope the lucky recipient find seasonally useful. As for the caption competition, it had few entries on this occasion, but won Kath Daubney a bottle of wine with her witty comment.
Ann Marie Winter won the ladies free draw comprising some chocolates – a safe option!