Another great weekend was shared by us all - we had 12 FEPOWs and 8 widows with us and, along with our local friends, the Gala Dinner was attended by 74.
We were delighted to meet Ron Hollis (pictured right with the Mayor and Lesley), a recent FEPOW member who came with his daughter Marianne and her husband Martin, as well as Bill Macauley's wife, Kay, and new Civilian Internee member Jean Addis, but it didn't take long before they were all part of our happy family.
Jean brought along some items from when she was an internee as a baby - romper suits she wore and a material book, all made by the ladies in the camp - it was fascinating! (Jean is pictured left with her book)
There were also Associate Members who came for the first time and I don't think we scared them off; Lynn & Mike Heather (daughter of Ken Pett), Caroline Maddocks (granddaughter of Fred Ellison), and researchers Ray & Khamma Withnall, Verity Fitzgerald and Stephen John.
Sadly, Jim Surr had passed away the week before, but his son Steve still attended and, we hope, found some solace with us. It was such a joy that Jim had joined us last year for the first time in years, and brought Steve along who now fully intends, like many of us, to continue to come in his father's memory and to spend time with his father's comrades and his new friends.
We were disappointed that Bob Boocock & Flora and Barbara Anslow had to cancel at the last minute, but we are glad they didn't overdo it that weekend, concentrating on their health and hope they will be sufficiently boosted to join us next year!
The Mayor of Stratford upon Avon this year, Juliet Short and, with her husband John as Consort, made a great fuss of us all - attending Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday morning - we couldn't get rid of them, happily!
We were also joined this year by a new singer, Victoria Wilson, a trained opera singer who gave us a wonderfully varied programme after our Gala Dinner. Her mum had made her a 1940s dress and she'd done her hair in a 'victory roll'. Bill invited her to join him on the top table and she proved a great hit with him, and us all. She sang beautifully, even learnt some new songs especially for us and rounded off the evening with our traditional 'Land of Hope & Glory' accompanied (some would say spoilt) by us all whilst waving our flags.
Dave & Margaret Hastie from the Stratford upon Avon RBL joined us for the Saturday dinner and organised another wonderful service for us in their beautiful Garden of Remembrance on the Sunday morning. As ever, their son supplied the sound system and the service was taken by the RBL Chaplain, Reverend Neville Beamer.
The extra Standard Bearers who came especially for the 70th commemoration last year asked to attend too, as did the Birmingham Standard Bearers Nick Roberts and Paul Nicholls - they all gave us another fabulous display.
This was followed by a few drinks and lovely buffet lunch (thanks to Margaret and our RBL Ladies) at the RBL clubhouse around the corner.
Local Councillor Chris Wall brought the wheelchairs from the local Shopmobility for us and local photographer Simon Foster kindly attended taking more of his wonderful photographs for us to share with you.
It always astounds how we are made to feel so welcome by our friends in Stratford upon Avon, as well as at the Hotel - it's no surprise we enjoy returning - hope to see you all next year!!
Photograph courtesy of Stratford's Civic Photographer Simon Foster www.fosterstudio.co.uk