10th Riggers' Reunion.
The reunion began on the evening
of the 26th October when the advance party of riggers who were staying in the mess accommodation assembled
in the Mess Bar. I'm told a very lively evening ensued.
2nd Riggers' Dining in Night.
Those of you who could not make it, missed out on a great evening.
Some 86 guests attended the event which was superbly organised by Darren Smith
and his team.
The food was fabulous, the mess catering staff really pulled out all the stops and got the evening off to a flying start.
Everyone had a really great evening, enjoying the FREE bar and meeting up with old friends and comrades.
9th REUNION 17th OCTOBER
The excellent reunion was organised by Flt Sgt John Summerson assisted by Sgt Rob Hall.
The event commenced at 11-30hrs when everyone who had booked for the afternoon visit to the Aerial Erector School was picked up by the mini-bus for the journey to RAF Digby.
On arrival at RAF Digby we were taken to the Aerial Erector School and after a very warm welcome from Flt Sgt John Summerson we were taken to the Sector Operations Bunker.
In the underground Operations
Rooms, now a museum, we were given a good comprehensive history of the building and especially
the part it had played during the Battle of Britain. We were then given time to explore the
various rooms and exhibits in them with school staff on hand to provide explanations where needed.
Next it was off once again in the mini-bus to Stenigot for our visit to THE tower. The school staff, who had kindly given up some of their off duty time, showed us the latest safety equipment riggers use now and then gave a demonstration of the latest tower rescue methods. They also demonstrated the various tasks that potential trainees now have to undertake to aquire a place on a course.
Those of us who wished to do so were
then kitted out with a full safety harness and helmet and then UNOFFICIALLY allowed to climb under
strict supervision, up the ladders to the 50/60ft platform.
There were a lot of very happy smiling old hairys up on that platform including myself. Once all the photographs were taken and everyone had returned safely to the ground we were all de-kitted. Hot drinks were on hand to warm everyone up, the Lincolnshire wind having lived up to its reputation. We were then loaded back into the mini-bus for the return trip to Lincoln. We had had a very enjoyable excursion which had been superbly organised by the school staff. We arrived back in Lincoln and were dropped off at our hotels in plenty of time to prepare for the evening event.
We were all gathered up from our
various hotels by a large Double Deck Luxury coach and issued with our security passes on our way to
Digby. On arrival our coach was too tall to enter the camp because of the low trees so we were
de-bused outside the Guardroom. We were then led to a small gate in the fence and along a short path
to the WO AND Sgts Mess.
In the dining room the tables were laid out with candelabra, bottles of
wine and special place mats depicting riggers and rigging scenes. There was a specially made HAR pin
stick and an RAF biro pen for each guest.
The tables were
served by the mess staff at the servery two tables at a time. The food was magnificent and I had a
helping of something I haven't had since my school dinner days, sweet red cabbage, it was absolutely
gorgeous. Thanks very much, it made my day.
THANK YOU ALL.
Riggers Dining in
Night Saturday 3rd May 2014.
organised by WO Darren Smith, was a formal Dining in Night. Invitation had been
extended to all Riggers, past and present and their wives/partners.
Darren "Smithy" Smith reports
that "On Saturday 3rd May 2014, for the first time ever, 113 hairy arsed riggers and their
partners, made their way to RAF Henlow WO & Sgts Mess to enjoy the delights of a formal 7 course
Dining In Night. Dressed to the nines in their full Mess Uniform or Dinner Jackets, the lads
were put to shame by the ladies who looked simply stunning in their flowing dresses and killer
The photograph above can be seen below where it has been split into 4 sections which slightly overlap and run from left to right.
As our Maitre D for the evening,
Mrs Claire Ferrante called us all to the dining room at 19:30hrs, the term "sardines in a tin"
immediately sprang to mind. The most the mess had ever squeezed inti the dining room before was 92.
I admit, we had plenty of room on the Top Table but it did look extremely cosy down each leg. So cosy
in fact that with his bladder full to bursting, the only way Ray Hobbs could go for a comfort break
was by crawling under the table, smacking his head on the spool underneath before coming out at the
other end. Now Ray is not as supple as once was and by the time he came out the other side, our
main course had cooled considerably!
Thanks Smithy for your report and for
organising an absolutely amazing evening. Roll on the next one, Eddie.
The 8th Reunion was held on the 20th October 2012 in the Wellington Suite at the Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds.
The Royal Armouries Museum as seen from the Clarence Docks.
The way into the venue was lit by flaming torches along the corridors and the Reunion commenced at 19-00 hrs with a drinks reception on the Wellington Suite balcony. The serving of the excellent Buffet Dinner started at 20-00hrs on the balcony of the Wellington Suite. Tables were called forward two at a time thus avoiding congestion at the two servery's. Everyone then returned to beautifully arranged tables to eat. A free bar funded by several generous donations and all the money left over once the bills were paid lasted longer than expected.
Dinner was followed by a surprise presentation ceremony as
this reunion was the last one I was organising. I was given a 1950's riggers kit by
ex-rigger Jimmy Henderson which contained an adjustable spanner, a tooth brush,
tube of tooth paste and four bottles of Tiger beer in a RAF small pack.
I was then presented with a clock mounted with the association badge by ex-rigger
Bob Eaton and finally ex-rigger Tug Wilson presented me a special cheque for £2425
which had been given in donations from all the members of the association. I was
told I was not to use the money on anything to do with the association. I was
totally lost for words and spent the rest of the evening in a daze.
THANK YOU ALL.
Ex- rigger Paul Johnston filmed the reunion and his excellent coverage of the event can be seen by clicking Google and inserting "RAF Aerial Erectors Reunion 2012 Leeds". Enjoy.
The Association wishes to thank the staff of the Royal Armouries Museum who were on duty for the excellent and professional way in which they carried out their duties thus adding to our enjoyment of the evening.
1959 - 2009.
The Aerial Erector School moved from RAF Norton in Sheffield to RAF Digby on Thursday 10th September 1959. The course then under instruction, 9C had commenced training on Wednesday 29th July at RAF Norton and completed their training at RAF Digby on 26th October 1959. Course 9D which commenced training on Wednesday 11th November 1959 was the first course to do all their training at RAF Digby.
The reunion commenced with an afternoon visit to the Aerial Erector School at RAF Digby. A coach was arranged to take members to RAF Digby departing from Brayford Pool Wharf in Lincoln at 12-30hrs and some members used their own private transport. We were met at the main gate by Aerial Erector School staff and quickly processed through the security arrangements. We were greeted at the school with tea, coffee and biscuits in the rest room and made welcome. Members of the school staff showed us around all the workshops and classrooms and explained their various uses. A number of instructional videos were also set up for us to view. After about 3/4 of an hour of exploring in the school we moved on to the Lima Sector Operations Room Museum.
One of the Museum volunteers gave us an excellent brief history of RAF Digby. He then went on to show how the Lima Sector Operations Room operated in 1939-40 and carefully explained all the duties of the various personnel who worked in the room. Everyone then had a few minutes to look at all the exhibits on display including an Enigma machine which is on loan from Bletchley Park.
We then boarded the coach and set off for RAF Stenigot and the CH tower. Everyone was feeling a bit sad as we had been told that we would not be able to climb up to the 50ft platform as they had not received clearance from the Health and Safety people. However on arrival at Stenigot we were told that provided we filled in and signed a waiver form and wore a hard hat we could, after all, climb up the ladders to the 50ft platform. Staff members with rescue and safety equipment were stationed at a number of places "just in case" but they were not needed. There was a lot of happy smiling ex-riggers up there. Once everyone who wanted to climb had done so and photographs taken it was back down to hot drinks of tea and coffee to warm us up as the Lincolnshire wind had lived up to its reputation. It was freezing up there. Then it was back to Lincoln to prepare for the evening.
A view of some of the members from the 50ft Platform.
Two coaches departed from Lincoln at 18-30hrs and arrived at RAF Digby and everyone was processed through the security by 19-00hrs when the Free Bar opened in the Silver Maple Club. It was announced that due to lack of space in the club the buffet would be served in the Airmen's Mess next door. At 20-00hrs everyone was invited into the Airmen's Mess to a superb buffet. The tables had been beautifully laid out in the bright cheerful mess, decorated with Menu cards (which the school had produced complete with a Rigger's Toast), wine etc. It was hard to believe that there were only two Chefs on duty as everything ran so smoothly. Matt and Jo did us proud. And no-one had to wash their mug and irons afterwards.
The evening then progressed onwards with an imprompu raffle of donated prizes in aid of the Help for Heroes charity which raised £220. It might well have been more but we ran out of raffle tickets. Our Help for Heroes fund will remain open until the 31st December in case there are any more members wishing to make donations.
from No. 10 Radio Fitting Party who were last together in Aden 1962/63.
There were buckets of sand and lamps swinging all over the room and the noise near the bar was deafening. Everyone was enjoying themselves. Cheerful Charlie Morrison did look a bit miserable as he had failed to win the crate of Tiger beer but as he commented to me in a letter shortly after the reunion. "If it seemed to a few people that I wasn't enjoying myself because I only moved from my seat to the bar and back, I can assure them nothing could be further from the truth. I had made a conscious decision that unlike the last 'Doo' I was at in 2005, this year I was going to be on my best behaviour. I, perhaps succeeded more than I had intended to do, as seen by the relay team of serving riggers wives who came over to my table to cheer me up when to be honest I was quite content to sit there and soak up the ambience, respect and affection riggers have for one another. This is not to say I didn't enjoy the attention I got from the young ladies and would like them to know that for a wee while they made an old man very happy. Charlie".
A new innovation for a riggers' reunion was a Karaoke machine!!!! This wonderous bit of modern technology, supervised by Wayne Eves to ensure it was not damaged or mis-used, was very popular with some of the younger riggers. The quiet area became very popular and somewhat crowded with old hairys seeking sanctuary!!! Everyone was enjoying themselves and it was great to have so many younger riggers with us. The Free bar, funded by a number of donations and all the money left over after the bills were paid, lasted out for most of the evening.
too soon it was 01-00hrs and time for the coaches to return to Lincoln. A great
night out in excellent company. The Aerial Erector School staff did a fantastic job
in setting it all up and making sure us old Hairys had a good time.
The Reunion started at the RAF Signals Museum, the Curator Alf
Fisher and a number of volunteers who run the museum gave up their Saturday afternoon
to open up the building and welcome us in.
Ex-Riggers Jack Holman, Baz White, Paul Bennett and Dave Faulkner enjoying a quiet chat.
The bar staff were very fast, efficient and pleasant. At one of the earlier reunions
which shall be nameless,the bar staff all looked as though they were doing community
service, rather than serving customers.
The reunion took place at The Atrium in Lincoln University on the 3rd September 2005. The number of members attending was not recorded.
Held at the University of Lincoln and included visits to the Aerial Erector School at RAF Digby and Stenigot tower. Some 145 sat down to the dinner.
Held at the Royal Armouries Museum Leeds where 160 people had a lively evening.
Held in the Halifax Room at the Yorkshire Air Museum where 149 attended.
This was the first Re-union held by the association and took place in the Halifax Room, Yorkshire Air Museum near York (Ex R.A.F. Elvington).
Friday 21st June.
Winner with 46 points was Darren Smith.
Runner up was Ray
Hobbs 41 points.
6 Hole Competition.
2018 RIGGERS OPEN GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP.
Friday 10th August
On arrival there was coffee/tea and
bacon rolls prior to the Morning warm up event. The first tee off of the 9 hole Texas Scramble was at 08-30hrs.
The Texas Scramble was followed by an early lunch break.
Ash Sutton is the 2018 Riggers Open Champion.
Ash being presented with the Winners Cup and the Green Jacket by Derek Martin.
Paul Worrall was in second place.
Bob Hope won Closest to the Pin as can be seen in the photograph above.
A great day was had by all and a
couple of good nights in the mess. All made possible by the grateful help of Darren Smith.
2017 RIGGERS OPEN GOLF
The day was attended by 25 serving and ex-serving Riggers, all eager to display their prowess on the golf course.
The morning round was a fun team Texas
scramble game plated on the 6 hole course. Names were drawn out of a hat so the groups were different to the
This years winner of the Riggers Open was
Cpl Gary Hobbs.
2nd place went to Archie Stoddard with 37 points beating Chris Salmon
on count back placing Chris 3rd also with 37 points.
Sgt John (Mitch) Mitchell won, not for the
first time, the prize for most golf, scoring just 6 points over 18 holes. This may be a personal best. His trophy
was kindly made by Sgt Paul Topping and looked really good.
There was however a small group who stayed over at RAF Wittering on Friday night and enjoyed the generous hospitality of Mick Purvis in the Golden Fleece, Stamford. The evening followed the usual rigger route with many a pint sunk and tall tales told and Chris can personally testify that a most enjoyable evening was had by all.
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