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Newsletter 20: January 2013

Editor: Doug Chapman

From our Chairman

Alan Partridge

May I hope that you all have a very Happy and active Christmas, and are fit to face the New Year with alacrity and much vigour.

The Committee of Old Abtarians will certainly be ready for the coming challenges of this New Year. The programme for 2013 has been completed and appropriate reservations made.

On 28th April, the Spring event will be held at YORK with the choice of one or two nights accommodation. The AGM will be at Porters Restaurant in London on 24th September.

Finally, the Christmas lunch will be held at the Four Pillars hotel in Oxford on the 10th December. Book these dates so that you will be available to enjoy the friendship and fun that we enjoy at these gatherings.

The future of Old Abtarians must now be considered. The very nature of the group is one of diminishing returns.

There are also less and less people eligible for membership under the terms of the current constitution and consideration must be given to where we go from here.

We must find new sources of membership or we will fail, and that is not an option.

The People Place

We offer Carole Ward and Avril Moreton our best wishes for the future. They have decided to leave the Old Abtarians at this time, but want to pass warm regards on to their friends.

Congratulations to Brian Cooke on being appointed to the Board of Transport for London.

Our Skyfall girl, Ann Partridge, jumped 15,000 feet to prove she could beat the Queen. Rumours are that Daniel Craig is smitten. Wait for the next Bond movie.

The Twelfth AGM

Thirty Members were welcomed to the AGM in Porters Restaurant in Covent Garden by Alan Partridge, the Chairman.

Alan reviewed the year's activities and emphasised the continuing need to look for fresh ideas and new members. With this in mind, Colin Brain bravely volunteered to take on a new task of "Deal Co¬ordinator" to seek increased benefits for members.

Dave Richardson agreed to take over Colin's former PR role, whilst Mary Cooke and Doug Chapman will arrange the activity programme for 2013, with Candida Whitmill taking over in subsequent years. Other Members of the Executive Committee will continue in their existing roles.

Victoria Bacon is the Head of Communications for ABTA and made a most comprehensive current affairs presentation. Key issues included the extensive submissions about ATOL reform leading to practical help for Members in cost effectively implementing the new rules. The "Fair Tax on Flying" campaign with industry partners is another core focus.

Consumer awareness of the ABTA brand remains very high, but is weaker amongst the Under 35s and action, including Twitter and Facebook input, is being initiated to improve this situation.

Upcoming issues include possible extension of the European Package Travel initiative and improvements to the ABTA web site.

Finally, seven guests joined the group for a highly enjoyable Members' lunch. The traditional British menu, ample wine and convivial company made for another memorable event.

The whole package including the room for the AGM, food and wine as well as the convenient, central location make it excellent value and ideal for our needs. See you at Porters in 2013!

The Travel Convention

One of our Members was highly impressed by the quality of this year's convention in Turkey. The accommodations and business sessions were superb. Dubrovnik has been chosen for 2013 and our Members wishing to attend will be able to obtain the same delegate fees as full ABTA Members.

Christmas Lunch, 2013

On a typical icy and misty morning, about thirty members assembled at the Oxford Thames Four Pillars Hotel for the eagerly anticipated, Christmas lunch.

Entering familiar surroundings, the large, medieval style Crusaders Lounge, with its' large, open fire, created an immediate feeling of warmth and hospitality.

Then spying old friends, standing or sitting around in small groups, the mood was reinforced.

While people were assembling here, the committee were cogitating on a balcony above them. Some of the topical issues are described in the next section.

Eventually, we all merged at cocktail time and caught up on each other's lives, until it was time to wander off to the festive room awaiting us. Tables were found, crackers were pulled, paper hats were positioned and all was set for the traditional celebrations. Wine, water and the varied courses slipped down amidst the ongoing bonhomie at every table.

As Chairman, Alan brought the occasion to a close by offering best wishes to all members and looking forward to an increasingly vibrant group in 2013.

Committee Topics

Current topics being considered by the committee include

  • widening the membership base to increase our numbers and better secure the future of the group. Dave Richardson is stimulating wider awareness through the trade press.
  • increased benefits for Members being generated by Colin Brain, in particular registration for Touchdown & TIS products.
  • creation of an Old Abtarians Condolences Card and a dossier of Member Obituaries.

Dates for you Diary

Please make a note of the 2013 dates shown in the Chairman's letter.

THE Spring Event

We are looking forward to a really exciting event in YORK. York, of course, has an outstanding range of attractions, including the Jorvik Centre, the Minster, the Chocolate Story, the National Railway Museum, the Castle Museum, river cruises, shops and the Shambles. We will meet there on Sunday 28,h April, 2013, for two nights.

Given York's popularity for tour companies, we have secured an excellent deal through Superbreak for two nights bed, breakfast and buffet dinner at the Novotel Hotel at £55 per person for each night based on double room occupancy. If you prefer to stay for one night only, the price is £60.

In addition, Superbreak can include packaged return rail fares from London from around £35. They are also able to quote for other East Coast starting places, as well as a range of connections into London.

The Novotel is modern and very comfortable, with a pool and leisure centre. Rear rooms overlook a lock and the river. There is an adjacent pay car park and the city centre is about a ten minute walk.

We have a limited quota of rooms, which are currently guaranteed until Sunday 3ld February, so please book asap directly with Eve Botez (or any colleague) of Superbreak on 0871 221 3636 quoting booking reference 1163462.

For single occupancy rooms (available at the same prices), please book through me, Doug Chapman, on 01303 263962 or by email.

Rooms can be cancelled at no charge until 30th March, after which no refund will be made.

We do not plan any formal group activities, but will arrange for people with similar interests to make visits together if they wish to do so. This will be arranged over dinner on either night.

The Pictures