May 7, 2010

The Churchill Centre, UK
London, 7-10 May 2010

Fitting a number of necessary events into a narrow ‘window’ was always a bit risky, with the chance of reduced numbers at any one of them, but TCC-UK managed to achieve this in early May with fingers crossed.


On Friday 7th May the Annual General Meeting took place in London at the Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square. Apart from the usual formalities, the main business was the demise of the Committee and the assumption of management responsibilities by an enhanced Board of Trustees, the Hon Celia Sandys continuing as Chairman of the Board. It was a nice surprise to find John Plumpton and Craig Horn among those attending.

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Saturday 8th May was the 65th anniversary of VE-Day and this was marked by a visit to Churchill College, Cambridge by over 70 members, including a touring party from the United States and Canada led by Judy Kambestad and a small group from Portugal, headed by João Espada. The contingent received a warm welcome from Sir David Wallace, Master of Churchill College, and was then treated to a masterly address by David Reynolds: he gave an insight into the start of WSC’s premiership which eventually culminated with the triumph of 8th May 1945. Lunch was taken in the great hall of the college and then Allen Packwood and his team gave everyone a fascinating tour of the Churchill Archives Centre.


After a day’s pause for breath, the important date of Monday 10th May, marking the 70th anniversary of the start of WSC’s coalition premiership, called for full recognition. This took place at the Churchill War Rooms and was attended by over 60 members, including the Canadian, American and Portuguese visitors. This major event took the form of a luncheon, attended by Lady Soames and eight other members of the Churchill family; a toast to the heroic memory of Sir Winston was drunk. The pièce de résistance, and the climax of the weekend’s activities, was an address by the Rt Hon Sir Martin Gilbert. Sir Martin gave a riveting talk on the hour-by-hour events of 10th May 1940, made uncannily topical by the fact that the British general election had taken place only four days earlier and efforts to create a coalition government were still in progress. It was a rare privilege to hear such an authority speaking on such an historic event at such an evocative venue and everyone departed, proud of having been able to participate in this memorable occasion.


Paul Courtenay


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