Chairman Michael Cochrane opened the first Open Meeting of the season with a warm welcome to the ten lady guests and also guest Colin Alderton. The Forum also received new member George Hornsea (who likes to be known as Ginger) in the usual manner. Three apologies had been received prior to the meeting.
A reminder that John Taylor was taking Christmas Lunch bookings was given and he was already in receipt of forty-four orders.
Todays Speaker was Mr Stephen Caldwell and his fascinating discourse was “Living and Working in Windsor Castle”. Originally from Bradford where he attended the grammar school Stephen had a varied career taking in the Royal Navy, five years as a maintenance technician at the Halifax Building Society and various positions with other companies before responding to an advert from the Royal Household at Windsor. Two interviews later saw him take up a position as one of the Property Officers with responsibility amongst others of Pension Homes, security of Royal Lodge and Sunninghill Park and the 600 acres of Home Park. He told us about one of his first jobs being the lock on the Queens bedroom door!! Duties included reacting to emergencies, general maintenance, refurbishment of accommodation and “on-call ” emergency duties. His wife had also obtained a royal role namely secretarial working for the Duke of Edinburgh on his award scheme. We were told about attendances at Buckingham Palace Garden Parties; Garter Ceremonies; Duke of Edinburgh Award fund-raising events and Christmas Balls at Buckingham Palace. Being able to use the Royal Box at the Albert Hall and a trip to see the Royal Yacht Britannia in 1996 was also mentioned. Other perks included live in accommodation, the opportunity to purchase maundy money sets and annual gifts from the Queen allowing a collection of minton crockery over the years in addition to the annual christmas card and christmas pudding. Stephen touched briefly on the Windsor Castle Fire of 1992, the devastation caused and the 4 year programme of works to repair.
On his retirement he was awarded the M.V.O. IN 2003. The talk was reinforced with an excellent slide show and questions from the audience at its conclusion.
The Vote of Thanks was given by Peter Staples on behalf of forty-one members and eleven guests.
NEIL RAMSHAW SECRETARY