Welcome to my penultimate Presidential letter! Where has the time gone? It’s been another busy month representing the IRRV. You may recall that when I left you last month I was preparing to head off to the East Anglian AGM. Well, I’m pleased to announce that the sun shone in Norfolk at Peter Beales Roses where the Chief Executive and I were treated to yet more marvellous hospitality.
Unfortunately David then had to leave but I stayed on for the tour of the grounds and gardens and even survived the demonstration. It’s probably just as well David had gone as the gentleman providing the demonstration of all things rose related became very enthusiastic about the quality of his secateurs which promptly flew from his hand and skimmed my leg, much to the horror of Chairman, Adrian Mills and other Exec members. Imagine being known as the Association who maimed the President! Hopefully I managed to allay their fears and calls for First Aid were turned away as unnecessary but it did provide a little humour for the afternoon as we teased the gardener especially when he threatened to show us how to prune roses with an electric hedge trimmer……I maintained a safe distance.
Actually, perhaps the President should get danger money as writing this I’ve realised that the next event was the IRRV Association National Golf Day organised by Council Member Mr Bob Trahern. Not being a golfer, I was happy to help out selling raffle tickets and even agreed to sit in a hut at the half way point to catch those I’d missed in the club house. Getting to and fro said hut proved interesting on occasion! However, it was well worth it to also persuade the teams to make a further donation to my chosen charity – Planets - raising a tot of whisky in memory of Mike Peterson an extremely active member of the Scottish IRRV Association who sadly passed away suddenly and whose funeral was that very day. The Scottish Association team did him proud. An all-round excellent event culminated in dinner and prize giving. The Association prize going to the West Midlands and the sponsor’s prize to Rundles - see left and below. I've also decided that I really do need a box to stand on when having photographs taken like this!
As I say, I couldn’t really comment on the quality of the golf but I must say that there seemed to be a healthy rivalry with regard to golfing attire, with many teams going all out and purchasing bespoke shirts emblazoned with their team and, in some cases, individual member’s details! Being an Exec member of the London and Home Counties Association, I have to say I am a little biased in favour of their emerald green outfits.
That was the Monday and on the Friday of that week, I headed off to the final dinner event of the calendar – the South Eastern dinner. Some may say they saved the best ‘til last but I couldn’t possibly comment! Set in the beautiful surroundings of Chilston Park, it was wonderful to catch up with colleagues from the region including Association President Patrick Knight who, I’m pleased to say, didn’t have any unusual gifts for me as he did when he presented Kerry with a vinyl copy of Puff the Magic Dragon many years ago! You’ll have to ask Patrick to explain I’m afraid.
A quick trip to the Council House in Birmingham the following Monday saw the Chief Executive and I represent the IRRV at the CIPFA President’s dinner. Keen followers of these tomes will note that there were no unforeseen trips and the weather had significantly improved since my last visit to the City. Unfortunately, CIPFA and IRRV Council member Mr Richard Harbord had to change his plans at the last minute and wasn’t able to join us for the dinner. However, we did manage to meet him briefly for a coffee at a local hostelry. It was one of those venues where you have to ask to use the facilities, which he wisely did prior to boarding his train home. Having been escorted to the door, which the young waitress duly opened using the key code, time ticked by while the Chief Exec and I waited for his return. And it ticked by. And it ticked by……….. then I suddenly realised that there was rather a lot of banging coming from the toilet. It transpired that Mr Harbord was in fact “trapped” inside. Even with the assistance of the waitress, it took a few attempts to rescue him. Sadly, he had tried to call the Chief Exec for assistance but his phone was on silent and went to voicemail. Suffice to say Mr Harbord was less than impressed.
I’m glad to say that no such issues were encountered at the next event, the Wessex Association’s AGM and min-conference which took place in the beautiful city of Winchester where we welcomed in new President Terri Horner. I’m ashamed to say, Winchester wasn’t somewhere I had ventured previously but somewhere I certainly intend to return to. While it’s been a pleasure to attend all the AGM’s it was a privilege to be able to present a certificate in recognition of Long Service to Exec member Stuart Dawson. I couldn’t possibly describe his achievements as eloquently as Ray Hatchard did but hope the picture give you a flavour!