Photos taken by Andrew MacPhersen and David Wright.

Once again, the STL Quarter Century Club annual dinner, the fifty sixth, provided an opportunity for about 130 of us to collect together, meet old friends and colleagues and talk about the ‘good old days’ when Britain led the world in technology, and the jewel in the crown was a certain lab in Harlow.

A most enjoyable evening for all of us who could be there, touched with sadness for the few who could no longer make the event.

Organisation this year was by a completely new management team, led by Ian Vance, who as you would imagine provided all the leadership, enthusiasm and direction we could hope for; he then delegated most of the real work to Gordon and Claire and the rest of his recruits. Well he was a Managing Director!

The event took place for the second time at the Bishops Stortford High School for Boys, and thanks should go the Brian Edwards our retiring president for once again organising that with the school. (Everyone found it this year as the publicised post code was right this time!) The excellent catering was also, as last year, provided by Catherine’s Cottage Cuisine, who should also be thanked for their efforts.

Brian also organised a group of Young Rotarians to act as car park marshals, and so another thank-you to everyone concerned.

After dinner, Ian welcomed the members, and thanked everyone who had helped organise things, including the retiring team Brian, Gordon and Vi. A good time was had by all, and David Wright and Andrew Macpherson took photographs which can be seen on the Web that give some flavour of the festivities.

Ian also welcomed our guests, particularly Dave Smith representing the Harlow components group Chapter, and a number of new members, including Adrian Sparks, Richard Bellerby, Chris Cock, Dave Phillips, Andrew Collar, Ted Thrush, Roger Williamson and Andrew Macpherson. Further members were still being sought, and Ian asked anyone who knew of ex-colleagues with ~18 years of service to get in touch so they could be added to our mailing lists.

The theme of this year’s dinner was the celebration of 50years of the laser, and display boards were provided by Peter Selway detailing some of the STL history in this area. Peter described an event that had taken place earlier in the year at the Royal Academy of Engineering covering Laser and Fibre Optic achievements. Charlie Kao had been present, and this was therefore an opportunity to again celebrate Charlie Kao receiving the Nobel prize and now a knighthood, for his work on fibre Optics. We were told of the plans to put a permanent reminder for the people of Harlow by placing a Blue Plaque in the Water Gardens, along with one for the other STL pioneer of the digital age- Alec Reeves. A more significant memorial for Charlie, such as a piece of Sculpture, is also being planned, and donations towards both of these being sought.- Details of how to contribute can be found at

Unfortunately there wasn’t much that anyone could say about the state of the company- as it no longer exists in the form we knew it. Apparently there just remains a portfolio of a several thousand patents to be sold; any lottery winners with a few million dollars wanting to invest can be given the contact details. In the absence of company news, however, Tim Rossiter gave a quick update on the state of the pension fund as it progresses the difficult road of establishing whether it will be taken over by the PPF.

A number of members celebrated significant milestones this year, it was a delight to congratulate those present who had reached 80, and perhaps even more praise others for those celebrating 50 years of marriage this year. Congratulated at the event were-
with significant birthdays:- Rita Burst, Derek Bolger, John Weston, Ken Darton, Les Hopkins, Dave Stopp and Tony Hall, and celebrating Golden Weddings this year; Peter& Beryl Graves and Colin & Gill Rogers.

Not able to attend because of ill health, but in our thoughts were Dave Moule and Tony Butcher

I am sure we all look forward to future events in the years to come, even if the number of new true “Quarter Centurions” is now going to decline somewhat.

We are grateful to a number of individuals, organisations and charities, including the Toby Carvery, the Gibberd Garden Trust, Harlow Pizza Hut, B&Q, Science Alive Gallery, Tesco, Maplin Electronics, St John’s Art Centre and the Hertford Symphony Orchestra, for donations to the raffle.”

Being a “Quality” conscious organisation (or should I say “Excellence!” for those with a long memory) feedback forms were provided on the evening, and the team would be very pleased to hear from anyone with suggestions of how the event could be improved in the future.