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London Dinner 2004

The 58th London Dinner was held at the Quality Hotel, Westminster on Friday 21 May. Again well organised by Peter Jones and it had a great atmosphere. Chairman of the Dinner was Michael Nash and the MC was the ever-fresh Ian Carnaby.

Before the meal David Osman spoke of Bob Fowler, who had died last November aged 97. Bob had been the oldest OT. He had been a regular attender of the dinner for many, many years, his last appearance there being when he was 90. The following year David sent him an invitation and, gentleman that he ever was, Bob responded with a written apology for absence. This became a routine over the last few years of Bob's life. After Bob's death, his family discovered the correspondence between the two and, on the strength of that, had provided wine this evening for all in attendance. It was with thanks to them and with the greatest pleasure that we then drank a toast to Bob's memory.

After the Loyal Toast came what passes at this cheerful and light-hearted event as the formal part of the evening. Ian Carnaby first mentioned 27 people who had tendered apologies, among them being Ted Colenutt and Peter Wainwright.

Ian then welcomed Jenny Fitton, President of the OTA and Principal of Taunton's College. Jenny said the significant growth of the College had made additional accommodation essential and the first phase of a long awaited building project was well under way. By September 2004 there should be two IT sites, a multi-purpose gymnasium, and an aerobics and dance studio in operation.

Southampton Football Club's Academy is based at the College. Students receive three academic sessions each week in addition to professional coaching. Many will not "make the grade" as professional players but will attain other skills ancillary to professional sport. Professional coaching is available for other sports including cricket, netball and trampoline. The results show and Taunton's College are Hampshire champions in several sports. In Music, the College is one of the most successful in the country.

Ian Carnaby then introduced Michael Nash (1951–1958). Mike's credentials and varied career make impressive reading. His father and uncles had been Tauntonians, and he regarded his "appointment" this evening as a great honour. He had retained a network of Taunton's friends, many of whom were now present, and he thanked them for being present. He said he wanted to talk of his days at Taunton's in the light of his three great interests: the European Union, the Catholic Church and the Monarchy.

In recent years Mike has become a consultant on the constitutional aspects of Monarchy, especially for Andrew Morton. Mike, in fact, wrote the final chapter in Morton's book about Diana, Princess of Wales.

Mike said he would end his address as he had begun it – with the theme of Friendship. Friendship was much more important in its way, and certainly on this occasion and for those present who had made the effort to be there. His particular friends were David Stockwell, Bill McQueen, Colin Reynolds, Mike Cotton, Bob Lewin, Barrie Ellis-Jones, Dave Osman and Brian Osman, all his contemporaries.

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