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Reunion Report From Larry Smith

  A short report on the AAJLR Comrades Association's 6th. Annual Reunion. I have included a pre-reunion report, written by Richard Abraham that appeared in the Cambrian News, and copies of two articles posted by Richard that appeared on the Forum. Firstly I can't believe it! What came through the post today was another Speeding Ticket from the Welsh Taliban. There was me warning everybody at the reunion dinner that they keep an eye out on the way home in the morning and I get booked. Incidentally this was on the way out of Ruthin. Still never mind! I'm sure the former Junior Leaders, Permanent Staff and their wives and partners that attended the reunion will say it was "best yet". A superb weekend! The staff of the Myn-y-Mar Hotel were once again "on the ball" and they made sure that we were well catered for throughout the weekend. Friday night was the usual meet and greet and allowed for a few "warmers into the bank". It was a great pleasure for us all to meet Ken Hart, without a balaclava, and his lovely wife Valerie who had travelled over from Canada. Colin Gunning, our Chairman, also flew over from Canada. The evening meal was a Carvery that was enjoyed by all; in fact the standard of catering was very good through out the weekend.  
Saturday's weather was superb with plenty of sunshine. Rene Dee assembled his Cader team and went off to climb Cader Idris – the team consisted of Terry Scriven and his wife Jan, Colin Gunning, John Reid, Brian Marjoram and Bill Fox (John Reid's Son-in-Law). It was then off to the station and full steam ahead to the camp for the unveiling ceremony of the Commemorative Plaque dedicated to our time at Tonfanau. 50 of us were assembled at the camp entrance for the ceremony and we were delighted and honoured to have our gallant webmaster Ken Hart to carry out the unveiling. I'm sure we will see plenty of photographs of the event on the website. Mike Owsley did all the work for this and should be applauded along with his Chief of Staff Trish. The plaque unveiled, a stroll through the camp and then back on the train. Once again there was plenty to offer in Barmouth on a Saturday with all the attractions of a typical seaside town - even the fairground was open! Several members made it to the bookies to place bets on the Grand National.
Richard Rothwell who, despite leg problems, also managed to climb Cader on his own on the Saturday. While Rene did a solo climb of Cader again on the Sunday.
Members gathered in the dining area for the Annual AGM at 1700 hours. Although the minutes will be posted onto the Reunion 2009 page, please note it was decided that the 2010 reunion would be held on Saturday 27th March (we will lose an hours sleep). Easter is the weekend later.
Eighty-one people attended the evening function, which included a sit down buffet, raffle, Disco and cabaret. The food was plentiful and well served by the staff. There was a toast to the Regiment and a toast to the ladies proposed by Herbie Slaughter, the reading of a couple of apologies followed by a couple of presentations. JT concluded with a short humorous sketch by Brigadier Inge. The Disco was run by Rick and Ruth Wise. They superbly orchestrated the music by playing the No.1 record at the time of each of the graduation parades during the meal. Terrific! A "blind" raffle was conducted and a vote of thanks must go to Dave Truelove and Ruth Hattersley for selling the tickets. The dance floor was crowded and it is confirmed that Eric Wood and June Abraham won the Strictly Come Dancing Trophy.
Reminiscing about Tonfanau, Cpl. Fagg, bed blocks and Kendal Mint cake went on until the early hours. We were greeted on the Sunday morning with glorious weather. You could see Cader Idris clearly in all its splendour. After a hearty breakfast members departed promising to return in 2010. Well done to the Landlady, Helen and her staff who were caring and provided great hospitality. Thanks to Mike Owsley for putting it all together, to Richard Abraham unstinting dedication to the association through out the year and to Stan Green for once again providing the table decorations. I believe the best yet! Roll on next year!!

Old comrades from the former Tonfanau Army Training Camp near Tywyn will celebrate their Golden Jubilee this weekend with a grand reunion based in Barmouth. Former teenagers from the All Arms Junior Leaders Regiment (AAJLR) will unveil a commemorative plaque at the camp entrance this Saturday 4 April, at 1120 am as part of the 50th anniversary reunion dinner and annual meeting in a Barmouth Hotel. AAJLR began in 1959 when the British Army saw a need to train boys from school leaving age up to 18 as future Non Commissioned Officers and Warrant Officers, and the camp became the base for the newly-formed regiment. Between then and when the AAJLR was disbanded just seven years later, a total of 2105 boys had graduated from the camp as men and had mostly entered the Army in their chosen regiments and corps.
Association Treasurer, Richard Abraham now of Surrey said: " We have held a reunion in early April every year since – the last three being at the Min-y-Mor Hotel in Barmouth – and the numbers attending continue to grow. "Our regular attendees come from all parts of the British Isles, including Northern Ireland, together with former colleagues from Canada, Spain and even Fiji. This weekend's reunion also includes an ascent by some of Cader Idris – led, as every year by Rene Dee – and the commemorative plaque unveiling.
"These reunion weekends and our association which is obviously 'time-limited as we are in our sixties-are very important to us, and historically to the Tywyn area, and we are hoping this anniversary will be even more special." Mr Abraham, at the camp in1964-65 said the association goes from strength to strength, and through its £5 annual membership fee – together with the sale of tie, pin badges and shields – supports The Ex-Serviceman's Mental Welfare society known as Combat Stress. He said a former junior leader; Ken Hart – for many years a resident of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada – started a website dedicated to the boys, which has become a "superb record of those sometimes halcyon, sometimes very difficult days". Mr Abraham contacted others through it and hastily they put a reunion at the Corbett Arms Hotel, Tywyn, in April 2004.
"It was attended by around 80 ex-junior leaders and permanent staff from AAJLR, with some coming from Canada, South America and Spain. An intrepid group climbed Cader Idris, and the then Lady Mayor of Tywyn was our honoured guest, and we received a telegram wishing us well from HM the Queen," he said.

Richard Posting One - our reunions do go from strength to strength with marvellous company, an accommodating hotel & staff (especially Micky who will keep the bar open 'til the last man falls down!), good food, great stories and amazingly better weather than I remember was ever the case in the 60s! It was especially good to see a number of '59-ers', to attend the plaque unveiling and to welcome our Webmaster Ken Hart for the first time. On the subject of whom, for those who were unable to attend, Ken and Valerie will not be back in Canada until late this month. Therefore the site will not be updated - except through this Forum - until he is back home. Please be patient and you will find AGM Minutes, stories and photos on the site in due course.
Highlights for me, apart from meeting Ken (who unsurprisingly is a very nice guy by the way) and the unveiling, were taking a brief stroll in the camp courtesy of the amenable guys/girls from motorcycle club; seeing Badger and Wudeck back together at the bar for the first time since 2004; JT being able to make it; more than usual climbing Cader - of course I wasn't one of 'em - thank you to Rene; the superb £232.00 raised from the raffle (thank you for the marvellous donated prizes) thanks to the brilliant sales technique of Ruth Hattersley and David Truelove; the Grand National sweepstake organised by my wife June which raised £40 for Combat Stress; the generosity of members who have also donated to that charity and Help For Heroes; the beautifully produced and decorated AAJLR candles presented to Ken with another set placed in the raffle (these courtesy of a thoughtful and innovative member who wants to remain anonymous) and last but far from least, my being made an 'Honorary Gunner' and presented with a fine framed signed print of the RHA 'Galloping Out at Windsor 1986' by Herbie Slaughter.
That is not an exhaustive list because for our part June and I would not have believed - before we started holding these reunions in 2004 - that so many memories and so much fun could be had over less than two days in Wales.
My thanks to Mike Owsley and to Larry Smith. As you know Mike and I pretty much run the Association throughout the year and then organise the reunions. A lot of the members - not least our Chairman Colin Gunning, and Gus Boag - say some very pleasant things about our doing so, and we greatly appreciate those thoughts. But let me put on record on behalf of Mike and myself that we both thoroughly enjoy doing it - a true 'labour of love' as they say.
Now, I have accounts to make balance with the money then pay that in, letters to write, an account of the weekend to produce which will hopefully appear in the Cambrian News this week with a photo, and various other post-reunion AAJLR bits, so will get on with those things now.
As Ken said at the dinner on Saturday, this site is only as good as that supplied to put on it. That is also very true of the Comrades Association. It is only as good as the members, and on behalf of Mike and myself I should like to thank you all for your friendship, support, and encouragement - we could do none of it without you. Thank you.

Richard Post Two - in the entry above I did say that the list of special memories from Reunion 2009 was not exhaustive and that is a fact but one person I did mean to mention by name was Mel Smith. Not the large comedian mate of Griff Rhys Jones but rather the RMP one who was in R Company with me in January 1964.
Mel was unable to attend the reunion proper this year but did not want to miss the unveiling of our commemorative plaque so for that 'ceremony' he embarked on a seven hour motorbike round trip from his home in Towcester, Northants. When Ken had unveiled the plaque it was back on the bike for Mel to enable him to get back and attend his granddaughter's dance show.
Above and beyond the call of duty but indicates what AAJLR has come to mean to a lot of people.
End Of Mission

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If you have any reunion photos I would love to show them.

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