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2 Para Reunion 2015
The weekend of the 13th to the 15th of March seen the 2 Para Reunion Club gather for the 17th consecutive year at the seaside. Once again through the efforts and considerable negotiating skills of our Chairman Dave Singletary we were to experience our first stay at the 4 star Hilton Hotel, at the very affordable prices which we have always enjoyed. In my personal opinion this was without doubt the best venue we've ever had. The facilities, service, rooms, and food were all we could have wished for. Everyone I spoke with during the weekend also had similar views. As per the norm Dave, Linda, and myself arrived on the Wed. to ensure all was in place for the 80 or so early arrivals due on Thursday. One of the positives at this hotel is every room is of the same quality so no one would be put in a room of a lesser standard than others, with the vast majority of those rooms having a sea view. We had access to the main lounge bar which was very comfortable and quite capable of accommodating the vast majority of us plus a private bar where we could enjoy reduced prices. Friday seen the remaining members arrive and after an excellent meal most used the rest of the evening to catch up with old friends along with making new. After breakfast on Saturday many took a stroll along the prom before the obligatory trip to the legion where we always spend a few very enjoyable hours before returning to the hotel where the airborne brotherhood disbanded temporarily to form up in their various clans in order to support their national rugby teams.

The club was very pleased to see amongst the serving soldiers in attendance WO11 Ian "Watty" Watkiss along with 2 former RSM.s Captain's Alan "Arnie" Armstrong, and Pete Gurney, both now giving the benefit of their vast experience to the young soldiers at Catterick. We also had 8 members of the Sgt's Mess who not only acted as the colour party, looking after the officers mess silver, the Btn photo albums and most importantly the colours but played an active part in the Saturday night auctions and raffles. A big thank you goes to them. On a personal note I was thrilled to meet up again with an old friend that I hadn't seen for may years, 2 Para legend Mick Cotton. Mick who now resides in Cyprus made his first visit to the reunion and we hope we see him again in the future.

With over 270 people seated for dinner, the top table entered to the vibes of the regimental march, Ride of the Valkyries. RSM Adam Proud called the room to order and the Brigade Padre Alan Steele, an old friend returning after a number of years said grace. W
e also welcomed to the top table this year, Dominic Hill, Maj. (Rtd) Dom was seconded to 2 Para for 3 years where he gained huge respect for his work. He took on the role of OC rear party when the Btn were deployed on Herrick X111. On finishing his military service Dom was asked to join the Parachute Regiment Charity and again made a big impact with his work. However he has now moved to pastures new and we wish him the very best in his new venture. Once the meal was finished our president Nick Copperwait Maj. (Rtd) passed on some very difficult news to the members. Our great friend and treasurer Roly Collier who was present has a terminal illness, however in true airborne fashion this hasn't deterred him in the least and he's still continuing with his duties for as long as it's possible. We all wish him the very best as he continues with his own personal battle.

The president also informed all that as it was the 50th anniversary of the battle of Plaman Mapu (Borneo 1965) we would be marking the occasion, firstly with a short slide show to give everyone an idea of the conditions that the Btn was working in followed by a brief account of the action. This was particularly poignant for Gen Ted as he was CO 2 Para at that time.
What was kept a secret was that 4 of our members George Averre, Les Simcock, Len Clark, and Mick Murtagh MID. who actually played very significant roles in that action were to receive a plaque each from the club to commemorate the occasion which would be presented to them by Gen Ted. It was a huge surprise to each of them but greatly appreciated. In April three of those members, George Averre, Les Simcock, Mick Murtagh, along with Gil Boyd BEM, the  founder of "Gravewatch, a database which holds the most comprehensive record available of Parachute Regiment soldiers KIA grave locations world wide, Maj. Gen Bashall C.B.E, and 4 members of the Btn will be travelling back to the Plaman Mapu position to build a cairn and place a plaque there to commemorate the battle and remember those that lost their lives. Anyone who doesn't know the history of this battle but would like to, can follow  link 1 below.
Also for those that would like to see the  slide show, click on link 2

Link 1
Link 2

The 4 veterans, of Plaman Mapu Mick Murtagh, Les Simcock, George Averre, and Len "Nobby" Clark with the plaques given by the 2 Para Reunion Club and presented by Maj. Gen Ted Eberhardie MBE MC (Center)

Our annual Sunday morning drumhead service taken this year by Padre Alan Steel was again well attended. RSM Adam Proud read the Exhortation, Former RSM Capt. Pete Gurney gave the reading and President Nick Copperwait read out the names of those 2 Para men that have passed to Valhalla. Stacy Train laid the wreath for the families, Dave Singletary, for the club, and CO Ollie Kingsbury laid a wreath for the Btn.

These annual gatherings take a huge amount of work and co-ordination between a very small team and we would like to say a personal thank you to Dave's wife Linda for her very considerable input particularly in the administration department, it is greatly appreciated by all. The dates for next year's reunion will be sent to all members at a later date.

Al Jones,
For and behalf of the
2 Para Reunion Club.

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