The St Malo Report:
I am pleased to report that Skal is alive and is still able to give the same feeling of amicale and belonging as it was 50 years ago. Our club's crossing to St Malo began at the Portsmouth Ferry Terminal where John and Flo Bright met our group of 46 to get us on board the Brittany ferry "BRETAGNE" without the slightest of hassle or fuss. Such a forgotten-straight forward way of travel, is almost a guilty pleasure. It would be wrong to describe the "BRETAGNE" as a ferry, it reminds me more of a cruise ship. More than just a mode of travelling from one coast to another, I found sailing is about the motion of the ship, sailing towards new horizons, having fun on board, where our holiday began the moment we stepped aboard. As soon as we dropped our cases into our cabin, we met in the Yacht Club bar, adjacent to the spacious restaurant. All of us felt relaxed and at ease, ready for having a good time, in a time-honoured way by an overnight crossing to France. Dinner was excellent, made even better by complimentary wine by Brittany Ferries, acknowledging that Skal is still holding some clout within the Travel Industry. It is fair to say, that John's connections to Graham Smith, Marketing Director of Brittany Ferries had something to do with this. Over at the other end we were met by Janie Corbet (Guernsey) who met us at the Ocean Hotel where we all had breakfast. There we began to celebrate Hazel Pressley's birthday which continued all day and well into our dinner on our way back to Portsmouth. Lyn Snelgrove wrote on Facebook: "A lovely day in St Malo, time for Oysters and white wine". We all toured by coach along the Emerald Coast to Cancale, where heritage is handed on a plate, in the form of Oysters and Mussels.
I have always thought that human beings are happiest when living in the company of other species, the more the merrier... apart from crocodiles, snakes or rats obviously.
While writing this newsletter, one of our members, Lyn will be packing her suitcase to join a dozen other UK Skalleagues who are travelling to India for the World Skal Congress. The UK will only be one of 40 countries represented in Hyderabad, where a colourful and exotic experience awaits them.
A message from the Skal International London, THE LONDON TUBE BOMBING "in the face of violence and terror, we grow closer. We are enraged, but more united. We persist to live our democracy. We carry on in defiance, and with a cup of tea! In love we remain united." We in Southampton are right behind you on that!
Eileen and I took the family to Belfast, our fourth time, for the family it was a new experience, visiting their mother and grandmother's birthplace. With the help of NI Skal members we found suitable and affordable accommodation, were treated to drinks on the house on route along the Antrim Coast by Skalleague Shawn Mc Cloghlin, and enjoyed a most delicious dinner at former National President Ken Sharp's Hotel, "The Salty Dog" in Bangor. A year ago while attending the National Assembly Eileen won a dinner for 4 in the Raffle. Ken was a perfect host looking after our needs in a welcoming manner, despite the fact that his restaurant was more than fully booked. The quality of food and service perfected the popularity of this seafront hotel. All this added-up to make me to be proud to belong to an organisation such as Skal. The advantages of Skal membership are out there if you are prepared to make use of them.
THE SKAL UK NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
Four Southampton Skal members plus two wives attended the 64th Skal UK assembly in Eastbourne. Eileen and I were passengers in Mike and Hazel Pressley's car. Our trip to East Sussex was so smooth and fast as riding on a magic carpet, travelling in style in their Merzedes. Eastbourne welcomed us with blue sky and warm sunshine. The Assembly was well attended which gave us an excellent opportunity to socialise and to discuss the many critical issues and challenges Skal is facing, both in the UK and also globally. It is right and proper to mention that our host club Brighton, Sussex and the Channel had prepared a splendid programme for our entertainment in true Skal tradition. The National Committee meeting on Friday afternoon was a well conducted affair with President Paul Hoskins in the chair. John Bright presented the financial report in place of our National Treasurer. We were honoured to have International President David Fisher attending the weekend which gave us a chance to quiz him on a number of issues regarding the wider problems Skal is facing and how to deal with them. We were given updates from our International Councillor Mark Alexander on the proposed Statutes changes to be voted on at the forthcoming International Congress in India. Mark will stand as candidate for election to the post of Executive Director, we wish him all the luck of the Irish! Mark's report took a bit of time, but we managed to fit into the agenda discussions about the organisational structure Skal is facing over the next couple of years and on how we maintain and more critically increase our membership. The Gala Night on Saturday was a glittering affair with a great many regalia in evidence which included the chain of office of the Mayor of Eastbourne, that of the International President, National President from the Republic of Ireland and the UK plus several Presidents and Past presidents. In conclusion I can report that the Eastbourne Assembly proved that Skal UK is not dead or finished by a long stretch.
More good news stories about Skal...from John Bright, "Flo and I plus our friends Suzie and Andy visited Prague and after an introduction by Joe Hickson we met up with the President of Skal International Prague, Heinz Reigl. After having Lunch together, Heinz very kindly showed us around the beautiful City and after finishing the walk took us to a wine cellar we would never have found on our own. There we exchanged club banners and the interesting thing is that we in Southampton are club number 62, they are club number 626.
We stayed at the Park Inn Hotel, which is run by another Skalleague Miroslav Forejek, and unfortunately we had to leave a day before their next Skal meeting which was to be held in the Park Inn. Heinz made us very welcome and after I passed on the good wishes of Southampton Club he returned the wishes to all members, and is hoping that more of us will visit his country. If any of you decide to travel to Prague please make sure you make contact with him. It is a great place for a holiday or a short break."
Our Club is mourning the death of two long serving members of Skal International Southampton, Patricia Rowe and Jack Jacobs, both are fondly remembered and admired by all of us for their great service to our Club as Committee Members and as serving Presidents, Pat in 1990 and Jack in 1994. Both were closely connected to the Coaching Business, Patsy was a Director together with her husband Alan of Sommerfield Coaches of Southampton, and Jack was the owner and Director of Jacobs Coaches together with Margaret. Pat, Alan, Jack and Margaret worked very closely together with other Skal members in the area such as Mike Pressly, Peter Osborne and David Pitter. Their funeral Services were attended by many of our members and associated members, and we shall remember them for their constant warmth and good humour, Skal has lost two great members.
The Chinese Dinner to be held on Tuesday the 17th of October at The SHANGHAI BAY, is going to be a promising night out. Bookings are well above expectation which will please Terry Cookson who, together with Sheila are organising this one. In case you have not so far made-up your mind if you should join the rest of us there is still time to contact Terry on email@example.com you have until the 7th of October, so now is the moment to make contact. THE President's Dinner and Dance which will take place on the 4th of November at the Marwell Hotel is quasi fully booked with well over 70 people attending, many taking advantage of the special overnight room rates. Having said this, we will never turn anybody away, so in case someone has not told John Bright that you actually would also like to be there please do so now. That's all for this month, your Newsmonger Dieter.