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Newsletter 12: December 2008

Editor: Doug Chapman

From our Chairman

Paul Cresswell

It was with some trepidation that I stepped into the shoes of Margaret Jobling as Chairman of the Old Abtarians as she has done such a good job over the last three years. However, I am looking forward to working with and seeing all our current members, and hopefully new recruits over my period as Chairman.

It was great to see so many at the Xmas lunch including Keith Mullineaux and Mike Sands who both got their badges which I hope they will wear with pride!! I must also apologise for not mentioning Ann Cooper Reeve when I was thanking all those who had contributed, as Ann has been one of the stars of the Committee and has done a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes in her role as Secretary. So once again Ann many thanks.

We are all sorry to hear of Brian Moreton's current eyesight problems and we all wish him best wishes for a speedy recovery and hope to see him in the New Year.

The Travel Industry once again looks as if it will have a tough time in 2009. However for most of the Old Abtarians we have seen it all before although with interest rates disappearing through the floor, we perhaps have a different slant this time as pensions and savings are getting clobbered. However you can be sure that Roger, Mary and Brian will be getting the best deals for forthcoming events so hopefully we will see everyone in the Spring or on a Fred Olsen Cruise.

All the best for 2009 and, with the Committee, I look forward carrying on the good work for the Old Abtarians.

The People Place

A warm welcome to David Ferguson, Keith Mullineaux, Michael Sands and Ande Soteri as new members.

And we are really pleased that Jean Neve will continue to join our activities as the first Old Abtarian Associate Member.

One sad note is the recent death of Aubrey Morris, who was 89.

Our congratulations go to Bella Rangel Callan, who has been presented with the Association of Women Travel Executives Joan Richardson's Award for her tireless support of AWTE, of charities and her contribution to the Travel Industry.

Finally, an early Christmas Present for Colin Brain, who has received the Outstanding Services to Travel Award of the Guild of Tourism and Travel. Well done, Colin.

The Ninth AGM

There was a goodly turnout of members at the Imperial Hotel on 26th September for the Ninth Annual Meeting of the Association.

Margaret Jobling, the Chairman, who was recovering from an operation and unable to be present, stood down after three distinguished years. She was succeeded by Paul Cresswell. Ann Cooper Reeve, the Secretary, and Peter Hayward, the News Editor and Past Chairman, having devoted much time and effort to member's affairs, also decided to relinquish their posts. Claude Mistely and Doug Chapman respectively were appointed in their place .

Highlights of the meeting included

  • a description of the Old Abtarians dedicated web site, for which Colin Brain is seeking photos of members or past ABTA events (
  • agreement that partners of deceased members can become Associate Members and attend all social events.
  • a fascinating review of ABTA affairs by Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive. He covered the state of the travel industry in the current economic crisis and highlighted the strength and vital role of ABTA. 2009 will see extremely hard trading conditions for member companies and he divulged that ABTA HQ is downsizing and moving away from Newman Street.

After the AGM, members were hosted to dinner at Newman Street by the ABTA President and Chief Executive.

Fred Olsen - Homeward Bound

At intervals during a warm June day, fourteen fortunate members, together with their spouses and friends, converged on board the good ship Balmoral at its overnight berth in Venice.

Next day in bright sunshine we sailed majestically past St Marks Square and out into the Adriatic Sea. Mostly the sun blessed those of our members who contentedly sought its' solace on deck, whilst myriad other shipboard activities took care of those whose skin preferred deep pink to a miraculous warm tan.

And of course, some days brought the much anticipated visits ashore. What a spectacular start to soak up the everlasting allure of Venice by strolling out of St Marks Square into the narrow alleyways, bridges and squares interweaving its' utterly distinctive architecture and canals.

Then onto equally intriguing Dubrovnik, much of it glistening with new stone and tiles following a multi million pound reconstruction to repair the devastation of the Balkan Wars. The work has been carried out carefully and sympathetically and as we caught constantly differing images from the towering vantage points along its' winding walls, the city seemed to relive the grandeur of its life in earlier centuries.

Other ports of call were Palermo, Cagliari, Gibraltar and Lisbon, all with much to offer and with very different appeal.

Memories are of all these places and of other highlights like the leaping dolphins off the coast of Italy, the passage at dusk of the Straits of Messina and the entry to Lisbon along River Tagus. Odd problems were usually soon forgotten, although a breakdown in the ship's receiving equipment did frustrate soccer fans hoping to view the European Cup games. Then poor Claude Mistely was confined to his cabin for a day or so, not I hasten to add as the result of any intemperate behaviour, but the unfortunate effect of a contagious virus.

But the overriding impression was of convivial times and shared experiences aboard the magnificent and welcoming Balmoral in the warm company of friends. Our thanks to Brian Moreton and Nigel Lingard of Fred Olsen for arranging it all.

World Travel Market

For a somewhat jaded eye, a visit after a gap of a few years gave the WTM a whole new perspective.

Almost like the first visit

Whatever the discussions in the corridors, economic doom and gloom hardly permeated the vibrant interior. The exuberance and style of the stands cried out and was matched by the amazing level of enthusiasm of exhibiting staff. Emerging markets were especially strong and creative in trying to secure maximum impact.

It is an inspiring and dynamic reminder of the exciting business to which we devoted ourselves. Worth another visit after all?

Christmas Lunch Oxford 2008

An excellent and convivial lunch at the Oxford Four Pillars Hotel in early December is now a firm tradition in the Old Abtarian Calendar. This year was no exception and forty four members braved the M25 and other impediments to turn out for drinks, an imaginative seasonal menu and most importantly of course, a congenial afternoon in the company of good friends.

Every aspect lived up to their usual high expectations - yet another notch in Roger Lambert's most enviable reputation.

And into 2009

A spring lunch (whispers are of a Midlands event this year, - even perhaps near the birthplace of the bard), a Fred Olsen cruise, the AGM and dinner, together with the Christmas lunch are all firmly on the horizon.

It is good to be able to look ahead and firm details will be passed to you as soon as the committee are able to do so.

If you haven't yet managed to come along to any Old Abtarian activities so far, hopefully this Newsheet may have inspired you to try something next year. New members are especially welcome.

Finally, don't forget the excellent discounts on offer to members from Superbreak and Fred Olsen.

All very best wishes for the New Year.