Southern Group members and their partners had the best Christmas present imaginable when Massimo wheeled Ted Wilkinson into the packed dining room at Orsett Hall on the occasion of the groups second Christmas lunch at the Essex venue.
After many months in hospital and deeply stressful times for his devoted and steadfast wife, Billie, it was inspirational to see both in such good spirits, Ted even talking about being fitted for the blades used by Paralympic athletes. ‘I know some people who need kicking.’
The event provides a welcome opportunity for colleagues and partners to come together, as well as reconnecting with those who have laid down their keyboards and moved on to a life of ease. The group has always been very much a family and maintaining contact with retired members and the partners of valued and respected journalists now lost to us is a vital part of the SGMW ethos. Paul Harris’s widow, Ann and Ken Rogers’ Cathy were among the 49 people tucking into seasonal nosh – filling the hotel’s Jaguar Bar to capacity.
The committee had gone to its now familiar lengths to ensure all present were entertained. There was a quiz with questions suggested by various officers of the group and wildly varying answers suggested by the rest, and SGMW’s best known thespian, Chris Rees delivered a brilliantly observed and highly entertaining game based on marketing department hyperbole.
Largely in consequence of its success in terms of numbers and the full programme of entertainments, a limited time remained for circulation, most needing to head for home before the light started to go and the traffic started to stop.
But rapid milling about produced warm embraces and partings with good friends and the partners we have come to know through the formation and continuation of this now highly respected association of professionals and bloody nice people.