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News > Pangbournian Stories > The OP Falklands Weekend Event

The OP Falklands Weekend Event

A GALA OP EVENT IN PORTSMOUTH

Around one hundred OPs and partners and guests attended a two-day event in Portsmouth on 15 and 16 October designed to remember the Falklands Conflict and to recognise the extraordinary Old Pangbournian contribution. An estimated 51 OPs participated in one way or another in the Falklands campaign and twelve attended some or all of the events. 

The programme, masterminded by Robin Paine (55-58), Rear Admiral Jeremy Sanders (56-60), Col Ivar Hellberg (1956-60), and Commodore Tony Morrow (58-62), began in the Princess Royal Gallery of the Historic Dockyard on the afternoon of Friday 15 October with a film and slide presentation given by eight OPs involved in the conflict, led by Jeremy Sanders, Staff Officer Operations to the commander of the Task Force Battle Group,  and Ivar Hellberg (56-60) who led the Royal Marines Commando Logistics Regiment. Also contributing were Capt Stephen Taylor (55-60), Lt Cdr Clive Carrington-Wood (72-77), Cdr Andrew Gordon Lennox (62-65), Cdr Robert Hamilton (60-65), Rear Adm Mike Harris (54-59), and Dick Borwick (66-70) for the Merchant Navy. This was followed later in the evening by a Cocktail Party reception in a darkened gallery overlooking the Mary Rose ship in the nearby Mary Rose Museum.

On the Saturday morning the attendees split into two groups and returned to the Mary Rose Museum for a guided tour of this impressive facility led by a museum volunteer, and a talk about this unique museum given by one of its two architects, OP Chris Brandon (64-68). Chris generously sponsored both the talk and tour and gave a fascinating presentation describing how the museum - which imaginatively and superbly displays many of the 26,000 artifacts retrieved by divers over 11 years alongside the remnants of the Mary Rose - was conceived and has been operated since the hulk of the flagship of King Henry VIII's fleet was lifted out of the Solent in 1982. 

In the evening, a black-tie champagne reception was held in the Copenhagen Room of HMS Nelson, the shore establishment headquarters of the Royal Navy in Porstmouth. At this reception Robin Paine singled out two OPs for a special toast - Courtney Edenborough (45-48) who was celebrating his 91st birthday, and Polly Sturgess (00-02) who was the youngest OP present. At 7:30pm guests sat down in the impressive Wardroom to a three-course dinner. Grace was said by Richard Shuttleworth (57-62), the Loyal Toast was proposed by Tony Morrow who also read out a special message from HM The Queen to the OP Society on the occasion of the dinner, and a Toast to the Falklands Veterans was proposed by Thomas Garnier, the Headmaster of Pangbourne College.

The Headmaster went on to describe the relevance of the Falklands campaign, and OPs prominent role in it, to the school today. He also highlighted the important role played in the life of the College by the iconic Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel, and gave an update to OPs on the challenges facing the College as it emerges from the prolonged hiatus of the pandemic era. His speech was followed by a strong and often amusing response on behalf of the Falkland Veterans by Captain Martin Reed who was Chief Officer on SS Canberra (commanded by OP Denis Scott-Masson (44-46) during the conflict. 

That concluded the formal part of the programme. Many of those attending took advantage of free time during the two days to explore the Historic Dockyard and Portsmouth and to take a ferry ride to the Isle of Wight. Throughout, this imaginative and memorable gathering was characterised by a spirit of remembrance, nostalgia and friendship among OPs and the other attendees which spanned the generations and everyone's subsequent experiences in life during the succeeding 40 years. 

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