MVA Newsletter 2018 – edition number 20

The Secretary’s slot

Barry Powell, MVA Secretary

Well, here we go with 2018 – I hope you all had a good Christmas and are looking forward to a healthy New Year.

Those of you who were at last year’s reunion will be aware that, after 14 reunions, I will be stepping down as Secretary after this year. I feel that the time is right for someone fresh to take over and bring in new ideas.  My mother is now 97 and it’s taking more of our time to support her living in her own home. I intend to remain on the committee (if they’ll have me!) and attend future reunions. Hopefully, I’ll have more time to chat with you all. Veteran Colin Fletcher is working closely with me at the moment and will take over as Secretary at the end of the reunion.

I would like to thank everyone for their support in making my tenure as enjoyable as it has been. This especially applies to my wife, Christine, who will forever be known as ‘The Secretary’s Secretary’.

Our reunion and AGM this year will be on the 21st April, once again at the Marconi Club. Martyn Clarke, who is a stalwart of the Marconi team at Sandford Mill, will be the President and Paul Marshall our Honoured Guest. Also, at last year’s reunion we announced that Friends of the Association would be invited to attend. So, if you know of anyone who would like to attend and have not yet registered as a Friend, urge them to contact me as soon as possible.

This year, we have returned to the standard menu offered by the caterers opting for some of your favourites. Our selection for this year is Brussels Pate with Melba Toast and a Caramelised Onion Chutney Homemade Steak, Red Onion and Ale Pie, Forest Fruits Cheesecake, Cheese & Biscuits, Tea or Coffee.
The ticket price for the reunion will be £33 for Friends whilst Veterans will continue to pay the subsidised price – this year £28. We are pleased to maintain the subscription rate at £6 (£3 for Friends).

At this point it is probably appropriate to say a few words about the reunion to inform any of our Friends who may be considering attending and also to advise you all of some minor changes. When you complete the application form, just tick the box requesting a ticket and indicate which company you would like to sit with. If you have special dietary requirements (Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Halal etc.) please mention it in the space provided. We can cope with most needs – if you are not sure, please ring me. By return, well almost, you will receive your ticket.

The Member’s Bar opens at 11.00 am for you to meet old colleagues. The Main Hall will open as soon as the caterers have completed laying the tables; the bar will then open and you can collect your name tag and reserve your seat at a table.  We do not allocate actual places at table but only use the information from the application forms to ensure that there are sufficient places for each of the companies.  If you wish to sit with particular people, arrange with them to reserve a suitable number of places on a table – there are 10 places on each – for the appropriate company.  I am happy to advise you who is attending or usually attends and help you contact them. You can now relax and enjoy the reunion until lunch is served.  On one of the tables to the side of the hall there will be books containing messages from Veterans unable to attend and a list of those Veterans who have passed away since the last reunion.

If you have requested a special meal, I would urge you to arrive as early as possible, reserve your place and then let me know where you are sitting – I will be the one with a harassed expression carrying a clipboard – as I have to let the caterers know where to deliver them by 12 noon.

You will be asked to take your seats at around 12.45 pm and, shortly after, the Top Table (including the President and Guest) take their places. On your table, for each person, there will be a commemorative coaster, menu, list of attendees and the papers for the AGM (more later). There will also be an envelope containing a strip of raffle tickets for which we would request £1.00 – someone will be around to collect this during the meal.

After a minute’s silence in memory of our founder, Guglielmo Marconi, and the grace, the meal is served.

During the meal, there will be a few toasts as our President celebrates his year with parts of the Marconi Organisation that have a special meaning to him.
At the end of the meal Veteran Valerie Cleare will pass on some messages from Veterans unable to attend and then the speeches start. There are only three – an introduction of the president, the president and his guest. They are usually light hearted and last around 5 minutes each. We have received a few comments about Veterans carrying on individual conversations during the speeches. Please refrain from this as it is very discourteous to the speaker and distracting for other Veterans. Together with a few toasts this takes us to around 3.45 pm when there is a short break.

At 4.00 pm the AGM commences. This usually lasts for only a few minutes and is followed by the raffle which concludes the programme for the afternoon and leaves you free to carry on the Reunion.

If you have any questions, please give me a ring.

Again, we would like to thank Benefit, the San Francisco based cosmetics company, and Hampton Sports and Leisure (The Marconi Club as was) for their hospitality and also Leonardo (the new name for Selex-es) who have kindly supported us for a number of years now.

With regard to the name tags, last year’s arrangements seemed to work quite well so we will again produce the name tags on A4 sheets which will be at the merchandise table so you can collect yours, as you enter the hall. When you order your ticket, please indicate, in the box provided, how you would like your tag to read. If you attended the Reunion last year, it will read the same, otherwise, the default will be to print your name as it appears on the first line of your address label.

If you are still unsure about attending or have any questions, please give me a ring. I am always happy to talk and can give you names of those Veterans who attended recent Reunions.

If you know of an ex-Marconi employee who does not receive the Newsletter please urge them to contact me as soon as possible. It may be that they have moved or not replied to a confirmation request of a few years ago or that they left with 21 to 24 years service and have now become Veterans by virtue of the reduction in service requirement to 21 years’. The ‘Friends of The Marconi Veterans’ Association’ has been set up to cater for anyone who does not qualify as a Veteran but wishes to be kept informed of things Marconi. Numbers are growing slowly with, currently, over 70 members and any more would be welcome.

The three registers (the Main register, In Memoriam and Friends) are now published on the website so please have a look if you can and let me know of any errors:

Finally, I would like to wish you all a very prosperous 2018 and hope to see as many of you as possible either at the reunion on 21st April or the next Open Day at Sandford Mill.

One final note – the 2019 Reunion will be on Saturday 6th April.

Well that’s goodbye from him, and now hello to him …

From the New Boy

Hello, this is Colin Fletcher and I am sure you will want to know a bit more about me. I first joined Marconi in May 1989 at the New Street site. The company name at that time was Marconi Communications Systems Ltd.
From 1989 until 1997 I worked in the Software Engineering Department as Project Leader developing Radio Communications infrastructures for British Gas – Western and Southern, and Joint Radio Council. Following on from this, when the company came under Italian ownership, I also worked as Network Manager during the introduction of a new company wide network in the early days of the now ubiquitous Internet.

In 1997 I left New Street and went to work in Harlow for Cossor (later Raytheon) on Secondary Surveillance Radar systems, only to return, like a lost sheep to the fold, to New Street in 1999.

The return to New Street was celebrated by working on the Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) system, a trunked mobile radio system conforming to an open standard published by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). The work involved not only designing facilities conforming to the standard but also attending meeting with other manufacturers in order to extend and enhance existing facilities in the standard.

It was during this time, until 2016, that I developed experience in not only writing the minutes for the ETSI meetings but also booking my own hotel and travel arrangements. Hopefully this will be useful in the secretary’s rôle.

In my time with the company the name has changed numerous times; the current name is now ‘Leonardo’. I have now retired from working life in order to devote more time to leisure.

During all this time I have lived in Chelmsford with my wife Marian. Our two grown-up children are now pursuing their own careers; our daughter Louise in teaching and our son David as a captain in the infantry.

Finally my thanks to Barry, whose high standard I hope to maintain and who has courageously offered to be on hand should help and advice be required.

Colin Fletcher