Practise makes perfect so it is said. We think that we can say that this was the case for the twenty-second annual dinner of the STL Chapter of the Harlow Quarter Century Club held on Friday 2nd. November 2007 in The Gallery restaurant of the London Road Campus (the Labs).

As many of you know we were blighted with a few communication problems which were eventually overcome but attendance was very good, a total of 180 members – many new – being present. A successful and enjoyable evening was had by all. The 50th. Anniversary of the founding of the British Computer Society (BCS) was taken as this year’s theme.

The President, Brian Edwards, welcomed all attending and presented the new members with their chapter badges. He also gave a brief history of the BCS. He then presented Jan and Don Sandford with a gift of thanks for their hard work on the food and said that he was very pleased to see Jan back after her absence due to illness last year. Sidna and Malcolm Napier were then presented with a gift of wine to celebrate their recent marriage and baby clothes to mark their becoming grandparents.

He went on to note that it was twenty-five years since Ian Vance and his team had received a Design Council Award for the miniature radio pager. As the night’s theme was the 50th. anniversary of the BCS he then called upon John Harper, a member of the Chapter and manager of the Turing Bombe Rebuild Project to give an update on the work. John advised that the rebuild was now up and running and that the Duke of Kent had performed an official “switch-on” at Bletchley Park in July. The project having started in 1995 with the transcription of basic drawings into working information.

Brian Edwards was able to tell members that John had been awarded Honorary Fellowship of the BCS to mark his achievement, congratulated him on this significant and well deserved honour and presented him with a bottle of wine. John, in turn, pointed out that the project had been very much a team effort and that many of the helpers were members of the chapter. He asked those present to stand to receive a vote of thanks.

The President then went on to thank all the volunteers for their work towards staging the dinner, their efforts made the whole evening possible and also went to keep the costs down. He also wishes to thank Fred Howett and Chris Tarry for their separate contributions towards the organisation of the dinner and presented them with bottles of wine by way of thanks. Finally he thanked the management of the London Road Campus for allowing us to hold the dinner in The Gallery and remarked that it was always very pleasant to be able to return to the site where so much had been achieved by many of the members present.

Brian then went on to explain that Vi Maile had done much for the organisation of the dinner and that this year she was celebrating a “special “0” birthday”. On behalf of the members he presented her with a special present, an Enigma Pendant. This pendant, created by Sarah Faberge, is in the form of an egg which opens to reveal a miniature of an Enigma rotor which revolves to display its numbers. He felt that this was an appropriate gift as the Bombe Rebuild project had been very dear to her heart and that she had been involved in Nortel’s contributions since the start twelve years ago.

For once, on receiving her gift, Vi was lost for words. She said that Nortel’s association with the project had been instigated by Allan Fox and Chris Greenhill and that her interest had been started when the 5000 plus drawings needed copying and twelve miles of wire was to be made into cableforms in the Conference Centre basement. It had been a very rewarding involvement and the pendant would prove a lasting memento of the project and the STL Chapter.

The President then called upon Gordon Harris to speak on behalf of the members. Gordon opened by thanking Brian for presiding over the dinner and noting how well he kept to the STL traditions. He told the members that it was Brian’s twentieth dinner and presented him with a t-shirt bearing a commemorative motif.

He went on to note that 2007 was the year that the Scout Movement was celebrating its centenary and called up Gordon Henshall, Director of Community Development for the movement in Essex and presented him with a cheque and a scout mascot on behalf of members. The money will go towards the Essex Experience project in which the Scouts, in association with other organisations support and develop disadvantaged non-Scout young people at risk from social exclusion.

Gordon Harris concluded by reminiscing on the developments at the Labs forty years ago. At that time the first of the many extensions was being opened. It was to be used for advanced circuit research and the preparation of new semiconductor materials. It also contained a purpose built computer room, a very modern innovation for the time. The honours were performed by the then Her Majesty’s Postmaster General Edward Short.

There still remained time for ex-colleagues to catch up with each other’s news and to recollect the good old days at STL and to round off another memorable evening.

A number of photographs of the evening can be seen below.

Brian Edwards, Malcom Napier, Sidna Napier

Jan Sandford with Brian Edwards

Two new QCC members, Trudy Collier and John Key

Gordon Henshall and Gordon Harris

John Harper

Vi Maile opening her surprise gift

Myrtle Good and Gordon Harris

Jackie and Arthur Needs

Trudy Collier, Ken Jackson, and Cathy Beattie

Ernie Workman, Nobby Denton, Colin Marr, Tony Davey

The calm before the storm