2008, Tower of London
Reception and Luncheon at Her Majesty’s Palace and Fortress, The Tower of London. 27th September 2008.
Fifty-one OHs, husbands, wives and friends gathered at the Tower of London on a sunny Saturday in September. The Constable, General Sir Roger Wheeler GCB, CB, greeted us in the HQ of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers; he outlined our programme and introduced us to Chief Yeoman Warden Smith, who had spent over 30 years in the RAF, and took us on a most informative and amusing tour of the Tower precincts, the Traitors’ Gate, the timbered residences of the Yeomen and the memorial to those executed. We were able to see the Crown Jewels and a cinematic presentation of the Coronation.
We then had a glass or two of Australian fizzy, before we went down to the Mess of the RRF for lunch.
Before Grace our President Roddy Long asked us to stand in silence to remember Jenny Larkman, Carolyn Le Fleming, Don Palmer and Commander Peter Blomeley, who had sadly died this year. After grace we enjoyed a delicious meal served on regimental silver, provided by Gillie Rowland-Clarke of Flambé, the Chief Steward and their staff.
During coffee Roddy Long rose to thank Sir Roger and Brigadier Trevor Minter OBE, DL, Colonel of the RRF, for allowing us to meet and lunch at the Tower. He thanked Major Colin Bowes-Crick, Richard Le Fleming and John Clark for their superb organisation of the day. He congratulated John and Janine on the birth of their fourth son – on their way to a hockey team – and Tim and Maxine Birmingham on the anniversary of the wedding. He said it was remarkable that a small school like Allhallows had produced so many distinguished people, which drew am immediate riposte from Mike Rookes: “What about the rest of us?”
Roddy then asked Sir Roger Wheeler to say a few words to us. Roger said he was the 158th Constable of the Tower. William the Conqueror had ordered the White Tower to be built of Caen stone in 1078 as a defence against the Anglo Saxons. He briefly described the development of the Tower and said the Duke of Wellington had stationed 1000 troops there, close to the Royal Mint, at the time of the Chartist demonstrations. He said the Tower was part of the Royal Palaces Charity, which included Hampton Court, Kew and Whitehall, which had an enormous turnover. The Tower had two million visitors a year – among them thousands of children – especially from Southwark. It was a great privilege for him and Felicity to be so closely associated with the community of the Tower, which contained some great characters. He said it was a pleasure to Welcome OHs and many old friends, as Allhallows had given him a wonderful start in life.