David McMillan (K54-58) has been appointed as the next Chief Executive of the International Hotel & Restaurant Association (IH&RA – www.ih-ra.com), effective from 3 January 2005. The new job means a relocation from Canada to Paris. David says he hopes to be able to “connect” with more OFs while in Europe. Brian Rosen (S40-46) has already added his support for an OF France Dinner.
The press-release says that British-born McMillan has had many years of international hotel and resort management & development experience with Hilton Hotels Corp & Hilton International, Hyatt International, Commonwealth Hospitality, Holiday Inn Hotels, Four Seasons Hotels and several independent properties including the Hotel Meurice in Paris, the Waldorf Astoria in New York and most recently with Cirque du Soleil.
As President of Axis Hospitality (www.axishospitalityinternational.com), a Canadian-based hotel & resort consultant group, David has led the development, acquisition, disposition, repositioning, launch and operation of many international projects in China, Malaysia, India, Israel, the Ukraine, St Kitts, Vieques, Cuba, the UK, Canada and the USA.
Brian Rosen (S40-46) sent message in May 2005 to say:
“I read a short note from James Ruddock on the web-site referring to me which has prompted me to write myself. The year 2004 had plenty of ups and downs, particularly the activities of the Royal British Legion in Lyon. Our President died very suddenly in May and then in October our Secretary also died. Both these members had become close friends and will be very much missed by all members. Thus quite unexpectedly I find myself Chairman of the branch, a job I am very proud to do of course although it has meant cutting down on some of my other activities.
Because 2004 was the 60th anniversary of so many wartime events many of the ceremonies commemorating battles, air crashes or liberation of towns etc. were treated as very special. Perhaps the most moving was the family reunion in a small Alpine village cemetery where the bodies of Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh Mallory, his wife and the crew of the York aircraft, which crashed on the journey to Ceylon, are buried. This was well reported in the British press and I was very privileged to carry the Union Flag at the ceremony and to meet many of the relatives, particularly John Mallory, 84 year old nephew of Leigh and son of George, the great British climber who died on Everest in 1924. John had made the journey from South Africa for this special day.
I was also ‘on parade’ at a number of other ceremonies and have to say that as soon as our Standard or the Union Flag made its appearance, we were treated with a great deal of respect and gratitude for those who had fought and many who died for the liberation of this country. Whatever you read in the British press, here in France there is immense appreciation of the part played by the Allies during the war and this is being passed on to the younger generations. The first casualty of the D-Day invasion was a French corporal of the 4th Special Air Service, part of a diversionary force parachuted into Brittany on June 5th 1944. The ceremony at the French SAS memorial at Plumelec this year was particularly important and attended by over 1000. I was privileged to carry the Standard of the Rhone Alpes branch of the ‘Anciens Parachutists SAS’ and was thus in the forefront. I found myself beside the Cardinal in the Church service and was obliged to mime the hymns in French for the benefit of the TV cameras, particularly as the Cardinal had ‘deserted’ his post to rush off to obtain a hymn sheet for me – which I couldn’t read anyway without my glasses!
Of course it was also the centenary year of the signing of the Entente Cordiale. Some of us were very fortunate to be chosen as representatives of the British community in France and were invited to a reception in Paris in April for Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. Many of us were able to have a few words with them and could only admire the way in which they enabled all present to feel at ease and to look generally interested in our comments.
In September we returned very briefly to Suffolk to celebrate the 75th birthdays of my cousin Marion (née Payne, a distinguished ex-pupil of the Mills Grammar School) and myself. OF’s present were my two brothers Michael (S.40-46) and Anthony (S40-48), sons Simon (S64-75) and Timothy(S66-76) and daughter Sarah (BH 88-93), cousin George Payne (S43-50) and contemporaries Michael Dobson (R 34-42) and Gerald Carter (K 41-44) plus honorary members Shirley Williams and Bob Williams. A good party!
2005 has continued in a similar busy fashion and having attended various VE day ceremonies in May. I have just returned from a brief trip to England with a small group of French SAS veterans, widows and families. We visited areas where they were trained in the 1940’s , having escaped from occupied France and prior to being parachuted back ‘home’ to organize the Resistance. We were also conducted around the various wartime SAS HQ. Not surprisingly the party received a very warm welcome and were interviewed a number of times for the press and Anglian TV.
The attached photo was taken on May 7th 2005 near the summit of a mountain near Annecy where we had just witnessed a parachute drop from a Dakota of 16 ex-soldiers using authentic parachutes and kit used during the war. (Except that they had reserve parachutes that we didn’t in the early 50’s.) The photo was taken after a ceremony attended by many VIP’s including the British and American Consul Generals. I was carrying our flag which was much more strenuous than dropping out of a Dakota – which I hadn’t done for about 50 years!
What an excellent book John Waddell has produced describing the wartime years at the College. It brought back many memories and it seems incredible now to realise that we did manage to carry on relatively normal lives and that our major battles were the inter house rugby matches. Few of us did not lose members of our own family and the losses of Old Boys, particularly those we knew well were impossible for us to assimilate. Perhaps the remarks by Chris Seddon waiting to see his Dad towards the end of the war …’I was about eight and a half and had not seen him for four years so I was afraid that I would not recognise him’….. were those I found most moving.
Ivor Webb (K37-42) and Richard Rowe (S65-74) met in January 2005 at a beach-front restaurant just outside Thessaloniki, Greece, for what might have been the first SOF Greece Dinner. Ivor is originally from the Framlingham area and is brother to Mrs Barbara Hall, the former post-mistress at the Framlingham Post Office and mother of Martin Hall (K67-75). Richard was in Greece on business between traveling to Macedonia and Istanbul.
Ivor was at Fram during the time of the evacuation to Repton; but being a day-boy, he stayed behind in Fram and effectively lost a year of schooling. Reminiscences about Fram included Alfred Molson (K38-43), Andrew Currie (R38-43) and the Bloomfield family. Ivor remembers Sydney Bloomfield (G41-45) who used to live Cretingham Lodge. Having been in the Police Force, Ivor was interested to know that Stephen Bloomfield (K71-78) is now Borough Commander of Haringey Police in London. Ivor also had good memories of Sgt Twite at Framlingham Town Police Station. Sgt Twite died about 35 years ago and was father to David Twite (R50-57) and grandfather to Mark Twite (R79-87) and Andy Twite (R84-92). Ivor was proudly wearing his Interpol badge on his blazer at the dinner.
John Simpson (K32-36)) mentioned in an email that his son, Jeremy Simpson (K56-64), would be visiting UK soon from his base in Subic Bay:
Jeremy will be with us for a fortnight at the end of October. You can see what he’s doing on www.jeremysimpson.com & get him on firstname.lastname@example.org . He is now a serial grandfather as his daughter, Becky, still in HK, has two daughters, and his son, Ben (BH 84-86), has a strapping son. Ben brought him to see us earlier in the year. Ben is still in Kenya and still loving it – flying choppers now. The relevant website is www.tropicair-kenya.com but when I looked a couple of days ago I found that the domain name had lapsed at the end of September. They’re near Mount Kenya, on home-brewed electricity and with a tenuous e-connexion: I believe he receives emails but he’s given up answering them. He was in very good form when we saw him. Paternity has caused him to give up paragliding but I’m not sure about adventurous motor-cycling.
Nigel Parsons (R64-68) sent news his new job in the Middle East:
Maybe it’s the heat, here in the Gulf of Arabia. Maybe it’s all the travel. But it doesn’t feel that long, since the day I had my session with the Framlingham ‘careers’ master, all of 37 years ago.
“Military or university?” was the question, and, it appeared, the choice. I wanted to be a journalist – specifically, at that time, a war correspondent – but this didn’t compute. So I got myself onto a one year course with the National Council for the Training of Journalists in Portsmouth, then an apprenticeship with the Cambridge Evening News. And all these years later, through a completely unplanned and haphazard career path, find myself heading up the biggest, most ambitious, most exciting project in broadcast journalism in the world today – as Managing Director of Al Jazeera International, the soon-to-be-launched English-language global news & current affairs network that will take on CNN & BBC World., and revolutionise viewer choice.
After the Cambridge Evening News, where, as ‘Stanstead Airport Correspondent’, I had my first taste of international news as tens of thousands of East African Asian refugees arrived from Idi Amin’s Uganda, my next job was in New Zealand. This gave me my first chance to experience war, when they sent me to Saigon to cover the evacuation of mixed-race orphans just days before the last Americans fled. It took no time for the ‘glamour’ of war to evaporate, for the realisation of the futility of war to sink in. I subsequently covered the entry into Vientiane of the Pathet Lao, indeed was the last Western journalist there, and the civil wars in Colombia & El Salvador – by which time I had moved into television and become a cameraman. The adrenalin of conflict was never compensated for by the depression at the misery & pointlessness of it all afterwards. By this time also I had my first 2 children (now its 4 children, spanning 4 years old to 23 years), and suddenly I didn’t want to go on risking everything for 30-seconds on prime time tv. So it was back to a desk job in London, running the daily operations of Worldwide Television News, the oldest television news agency in the game. From there it was into television start-ups – in Switzerland & Italy. The one in Switzerland (European Business Channel, a bold attempt to establish a bi-lingual English-German pan-European broadcaster), imploded spectacularly – and as the vultures closed in, with their due diligence exercises, it was like a crash-course in business studies. Sifting through the entrails of EBC, I learnt how businesses really function.
The next 10 years passed in a flash as a director of Associated Press Television News, working mostly the new markets of Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and Central Asia. I watched the catastrophe of the twin towers unfold on television cradling our latest child – the first daughter, Nikita, who came out of hospital the same morning. We watched Armageddon surrounded by flowers, drinking champagne, and waiting fearfully for Washington’s reaction.
We all know the rest. Probably most people understood Afghanistan – there was, after all, a clear link. Iraq though was, and is, different, and like many, if not a majority of people outside of the United States, I felt it was wrong from the start. I also became quickly disillusioned with my own industry as, apart from a few outstanding individuals, many broadcasters embarked on some kind of ‘patriotic war.’ The use of embedded journalists didn’t help. There was an attempt to sanistise the war, and much of the reporting was hopelessly one-sided. It matters not whether you view a conflict as right or wrong, our job as journalists, in covering news, is to cover both sides of the story. Not to draw moral conclusions – the audience is perfectly capable of doing that themselves. Only one broadcaster really showed what was happening on the Iraqi side, the cluster bombs, the napalm, the thousands of dead and injured civilians, the real suffering that war brings – even ‘high-tech’ wars fought from a distance with ‘precision’ weapons. That broadcaster was Al Jazeera, and it brought upon itself the wrath of Washington’s neo-Conservatives. Despite supplying the Pentagon with the coordinates of their Baghdad office, Al Jazeera’s office there was bombed, and their senior correspondent killed – just as their office was bombed in Kabul a couple of years earlier, though that time no one died. Donald Rumsfeld accused Al Jazeera of formenting terrorism, of showing beheadings (they have never shown a single beheading), and, even more ridiculously, of scattering injured women and children around the sites of fresh American bombings. Even so, every day, 40-million to 50-million people tune into Al Jazeera. Their motto is ‘The opinion, and the other opinion.” Both sides of the story. If you haven’t seen the documentary “Control Room,” it’s worth a watch.
Disillusioned, I left APTN early last year, with no plan in mind. I just needed a change, a new adventure. I never in my wildest dreams would have expected this one. At a conference in Kazakhstan, a chance conversation led me into contact with Qatar, and the chairman of Al Jazeera, and just weeks later I took on the job of launching Al Jazeera International. People often say you need to close one door before another can open. Ironically, had I not left APTN, this job would never have happened – at least, not for me. Now I believe I have the best job in broadcast news – a blank sheet of paper, a chance to make a difference. We aim to launch at the end of the first quarter of 2006, using 4 broadcast centres – Doha, our headquarters, Kuala Lumpur, London, and Washington DC. Doha will carry the signal for about 12 hours per 24, and each of the other centres around 4 hours. We aim to ‘de-centralise’ the news, to offer a fresh perspective, and to cover all sides of the story. We will be the first 24-hour news & current affairs broadcaster coming out of the Middle East in English, and as such we will ‘reverse’ the flow of information, cover more of the developing world, and portray an Arab perspective on major international events.
For those who haven’t been, Doha is also proving a wonderful place to be with a young family (the older boys stayed in our London apartment; there was no sign of them leaving, so maybe it was opportune that we were able to). True, in July & August, it is unbearably hot, most days between 45 – 50 C, and very humid. But for 7-8 months of the year the climate is much kinder. The city has a beautiful sweeping corniche around a semi-circular bay with a backdrop of ultra modern high-rise towers, it boasts the highest per capita earnings in the world, and it sits on enough gas and oil reserves to see it well into the next century. Admittedly the nightclub industry is in its infancy, but if you fancy camping in the desert with that huge crescent moon and the brightest stars above you, or sailing in the Gulf sea, or diving – especially in the amazing waters of nearby Oman (or even Seychelles, close enough for a long weekend) – or paragliding, or golf, or tennis, or squash, or trail-bike riding in the big sand dunes, or any one of a host of other activities, then you can do it all here, with ease.
Now I’ve discovered the Framlinghamian website, its time I checked out what some of my other erstwhile colleagues have been up to. I’ve only really kept in regular touch with one, Eddie Babbage (R64-69), he was my best friend at the college, and still is. He also has 4 children, and runs a landscape gardening business. ( Eddie Babbage is listed as Gone Away on the SOF directory; so if any one has his contact details, please contact the website team). We still get to share a few pints most months, when I’m back in London on business. Otherwise its generally been a case of chance encounters – sometimes on the tube, once in a hairdressers, once even on a flight, and once in a bar on the other side of the world. The Framlingham diaspora. I never really liked boarding school, although I guess it’s less harsh now, but even so it gives me comfort to know Framlingham is still there, it was a big part of my life and always will be. And for any present incumbents who must wonder what its like to get ancient, to be on the wrong side of 30, don’t fret – it’s all downhill until you get to 30, then things start looking up again!
Nigel Parsons, Managing Director – Al Jazeera International, P.O. Box 23127, Doha, Qatar; Tel: +974-489-0777; Fax: +974-487-2931; email@example.com
James Campbell (M74-82) sent in a photograph of a recent visit to London where he met up with his brother, Jonathan (M74-84), for dinner at the Royal Air Force Club.
James, on the right of the photo, still works for De Beers where he has just moved from co-coordinating the group-wide IT strategy to a general manager position in Group (diamond) Exploration. The new job has provided much excitement with trips to Canada, India, Brazil, Australia and the Congo and he says there is never a dull minute in exploration! He also continues as a Lay Minister in the local Anglican Church, is on the board for Common Purpose SA and is a Trustee and on the Marketing Committee of The South African Ballet Theatre Trust.
Jonathan is partner with Holman Fenwick & Willan specializing in shipping in London; having practiced for many years in Athens. He is married to a Greek American lady, Tasia. He recently saw Jules Arthur (K75-84) in California.
Alfred Molson (K38-43) made contact in September to say that he had just had made contact with several contemporary OFs and had just completed a telephone conversation with Maurice Metcalf (R20-24), uncle of David Metcalf (R50-55).
Maurice must be one of our eldest OFs at 97. Alfred said that Maurice said he was in good health. He sounded extremely sprightly and that Maurice said he was determined to reach his 100 Birthday . In their conversation Maurice said he came to the U.S. after WW II after his service in the RNVR when he was told ‘he was too old to get a job in the UK’ . He had worked for Shell Oil at one time, married a gal from Amarillo, Texas. He has a daughter who lives in New Orleans who managed to get out before hurricane ‘Katrina’ arrived.
Soon after he left Fram. he was on ‘walkabout’ in Australia, when in 1926 he ended up with several hundred others ( all broke ! ) in a camp in Northern Queensland. It was a holding camp where would be gold miners were detained until they produced the £500.oo required by the Govt. before they issued the required travel permit to go to Papua New Guinea to participate in the Gold Rush. It was there that he met up with Errol Flynn, the actor, who’s family gave Errol the money to go to Papua N.G. Maurice did not make it. ( RMR – James Ruddock sent in a wartime newspaper cutting of Maurice and Thomas Metcalf – click here to see the article
We were lucky to escape both ‘Katrina and Kate’. Katrina caused about a quarter of a million people to escape to Houston from New Orleans and environs, all arrived in about 36 hours!. Ninety percent with no money and only the clothes on their backs. To be followed two weeks later by Kate which came closer, but did not hit Houston directly. However two and a half million people decided to evacuate and go North, the result was a six lane traffic jam (all lanes were Northbound only) that was over 200 miles long. The temperature that night at midnight was 98 F with 99 percent humidity on the highway, after a day time high of 103 F. Hundreds of cars over-heated , since they were only making about 8-10 miles to the hour. The toll was greatest amongst the aged and the infirm as well as the very young.
We and our neighbor decided to sit tight, boarded up the windows and watched it all on the TV, that is until a 60 mph gust of wind caused a tree to fall on the power lines. We hooked up the generator of our Camper, rigged up a fan in the bedroom and went to bed. The Fan stopped at about 2:00 AM when the overheating switch kicked in. We were without power for three days, which was nothing in comparison the what so many other people have suffered.
P.S. I met Errol Flynn in the Bahamas in 1950, he was cruising the islands with his 55 ft. yawl and his All Girl Crew. My future brother-in-law and I took them to some little know places to scuba dive on several week ends. I also knew his mother, who used to visit friends in Nassau, enroute to her home in Jamaica.
pps. As at Oct 19th, hurricane Wilma is threatening the home of Richard Rowe (S65-74). Officials in Mexico, Cuba and Florida have started evacuating thousands of people from areas threatened by the strongest hurricane ever recorded. Hurricane Wilma, now a Category-Five storm, is packing winds of about 165mph (270km/h) and its heavy rains are already lashing outlying areas. The storm’s barometric pressure – a measure of its strength – reached the lowest on record in the Atlantic basin at around 880mb.
Click here to go to Summer 2005 Edition – Part 1