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Newsletter 18: January 2012

Editor: Doug Chapman

From our Chairman

Alan Partridge

I do hope that everyone has had a tremendous Christmas and are now fully recovered ready for a new year of hectic activity.

We have had many successful years and the past year is no exception. During my time we have had a very successful AGM and the Christmas lunch was arguably the most successful of all time. We actually had 51 registrations from members and associate members, and this, in itself, is a record. Unfortunately we also had, through sickness, weather, and a funeral, 12 cancellations.

Having been elected (I say that with caution) as Chairman, I do feel that I should try to lay down some pointers for our future achievements.

I did say at the Christmas lunch, that I hoped over the three years, we would achieve 100 members and said that I would lay this down as a challenge.

I also suggested that we consider some additional events because it is only by coming together that we really establish strong friendships. Fun and friendship are the main ingredients of "Old Abtarians". To help recruitment, I have suggested that we try to establish some more "Added Value" to membership subscriptions. These will be similar to "Fred Olsen" & "Superbreak". We should look for some additional companies who will offer concessions to members and associate members.

There have been some changes in the Old Abtarians administration, in that Roger Lambert, who has organised our events for the past 12 years, has decided that he will take a sabbatical. He has agreed to head up the "Added Value" section and keep the association advised of developments.

Pat Kent, together with Mary Cook, has agreed to head up the "Events" section and we look forward to their offerings.

Recruitment is high on the agenda, and we shall be advertising through any "FREE" outlet we can find to tell the profession that we "EXIST" and what we do. It is very difficult to get new members if they do not know we exist. Dave Richardson has agreed to communicate with the trade press and hopefully this approach and the ABTA secretariat will find additional members for us.

Enough for now, except to thank all the members who have accepted or are continuing with their portfolios for the coming year and look forward to progress being seen to be made.

With best wishes Alan Partridge

The People Place

It was wonderful to see Margaret Jobling back enlivening our company after her tough health problems. Our sympathies are with Claude Mistely as he faces up to his life without Deidre. And our thoughts and condolences are with Jill and Giulio Ugo as they deal with the loss of their son-in-law. Giulio is less mobile and they are having a house hunting nightmare!

Dates for your Diary

Nothing yet set in stone, but Mary and Pat have some exciting ideas which include bath, boats and beer.

The Eleventh AGM

Paul Cresswell, as the retiring Chairman, welcomed thirty two members to the meeting on Wednesday 12th October-another excellent turnout from a membership of sixty four. Paul lead the election of Association Officers, of which the chief change was a new chief.

Alan Partridge accepted the Chairmanship with all round acclamation. We know he will bring enthusiasm and dedication to the ever continuing tasks of nourishing the camaraderie of the Association, seeking new members and enlivening its activities.

It was not only Paul retiring from the limelight. Roger Lambert decided the time had come to pass on his organising mantle after twelve years of arranging lunches, dinners, hotels and all round jolly jaunts for members. Mary Cooke offered to take on the role with the active assistance of Pat Kent. They were duly appointed and all other Executive Committee Members were re-elected.

Alan then assumed the Chair, thanking Paul and Roger. He noted the buoyant state of the Association, with its' excellent financial position and sound membership numbers. Nevertheless, he stressed the need to constantly seek new people.

When the meeting ended, the basement of Porters Restaurant, Covent Garden was swiftly transformed from conference room to dining room and we moved to the next event.

Annual Reunion Lunch

Partners and friends arrived to boost the group sitting down for the traditional Porters British nosh. Timely service and tasty fare were the order of the day.

In case anyone missed it, the Smoked Pea and Ham Soup was enhanced immensely by being stirred anti-clockwise in accordance with the dictates of Richard Thomas Orlando Bridgeman, the Seventh Earl of Bradford and owner of Porters Restaurant. His Lordship also points out that Porters have served enough onion gravy to paint the Millennium Dome six times. A powerful concoction!

Alan Partridge as the new Chairman welcomed everyone to the lunch and stressed how privileged he felt to be asked to undertake the role. He praised Paul Cresswell and Roger Lambert for their achievements in support of the Association.

Alan outlined his aspirations for the Association, which he fully covers in his column, then welcomed our guest John De Vial, ABTA Head of Financial Protection.

John gave an illuminating presentation about topical ABTA and travel industry affairs.

Market conditions in 2012 are causing considerable concern, but ABTA membership is only very slightly down and, excluding companies with exceptional issues, the failure level of members is low.

John reviewed a number of key topical issues, in which ABTA are actively engaged on their members behalf, including insurance services, financial protection and the ATOL review, merger with the FTO and public affairs. He said the Palma Convention had been very successful, with emphasis on core business issues.

Christmas Festive Lunch

The last event to be organised by Roger was perhaps the best of all. The ambiance in the Oxford Thames Four Pillars Hotel was warm and welcoming, the service good and the meal excellent.

The event has developed a traditional pattern, which is what we enjoy and really look forward to It gave the forty people present the ideal atmosphere to catch up with old friends before sitting down to a relaxing lunch. Our sympathies to the twelve people who were forced to cancel. We do hope you will be with us next year.

Alan welcomed everyone and offered all best wishes for Christmas and the New Year. Then, on behalf of all our members, he presented Roger with a gift to mark the pleasure his events have given us over many years.

Pictures are better than words

Old Abtarians Yuletide Revels at Oxford

More Revels at Porters, Covent Garden