RREC Central Southern Section
Past Events

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Once again, the 22 April saw Central Southern Section members return to Elms Lane, West Wittering, West Sussex, to the former home of Sir Henry Royce, who was resident in 'Elmstead West' where he died on this day in 1933. Each year we hold a short memorial service here to celebrate his life. This year it was conducted by the Rev Jonathan Swindells.

I have been attending this event for about twelve years and cannot honestly remember a day when the weather was poor. In truth, the service conducted out in the road immediately outside 'Elmstead West' has nearly always been in sunshine, if occasionally a little chilly, as it was again today.

This time was a little different, insomuch as our past Chairman David Gray, who passed away late last year, lived next door to 'Elmstead West'. In the past David and his wife Jackie very kindly and most generously had welcomed all the attendees into the grounds of their beautiful thatched cottage for a glass of liquid refreshment and a delightful selection of nibbles.

Jackie, most graciously, particularly taking account of David's recent passing, insisted that she would continue with the tradition they had established, and once again we were cordially invited to join her and her immediate family and friends. As a sign of our appreciation for this most welcome and generous gesture our Secretary, Ted Meachem on behalf of the Section, thanked Jackie and her family, and presented her with a bouquet.

The memorial service was followed by lunch at Crouchers Country Hotel which is situated on the West Wittering road. The hotel's ample car park rapidly became filled with our somewhat larger than average motor cars but we squeezed them all in. There must have been about thirty cars. This restaurant, which is renowned locally for its cuisine, lived up to its reputation and dealt admirably with our sixty-seven lunch guests.

During the lunch we proudly displayed the Best Section trophy, which we have won for 2013/14, and which was presented at the Hunt House AGM to our Secretary Ted Meachem. In addition we were awarded an enamelled badge or plaque, which also recorded the event and which we believe the Section can retain.

Jackie Gray and family attended the lunch and so this was, we felt, an ideal time to make a very personal presentation to her. It is traditional in our Section to convey our thanks and appreciation for past services rendered by an officer of the committee, who takes the decision not to re-stand for election. So it was, in about July/August 2013, that David Gray informed us he would not stand again for the election to the Chair in the following year. We had wanted to present David, who was held in the highest esteem by not just our Section but all who knew him, with a gift that was unique and something very personal. After some considerable thought we decided to take photographs we had taken of his three cars, 'Photoshop' them to the best appearance we could achieve, and have them printed onto canvas. The result is very similar to an oil painting and if properly done can be very effective. Unfortunately, sadly, we were unable to present David with the gifts, normally presented at our AGM, as he was very poorly and ultimately after some time in intensive care passed away.

The presentation was quite emotional for me the presenter, the assembled membership and of course, most importantly, for Jackie and her family. There were a few tears, but with much relief to me the gifts were graciously received and Stephen Gray, Jackie's son, responded on Jackie's behalf and graciously thanked all those responsible.

Chris Tween - Section Chairman

Older cars at Crouchers.
Derek Johnson's 1926 Rolls-Royce 20hp. Chris Tween's 1931 Rolls-Royce 20/25. Ben Grew's Rolls-Royce 20hp.
1939 Bentley Derby   1921 RR Silver Ghost
Roger Felton's 1939 Bentley Derby 4¼.   Tony Smith's 1921 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Saloon.
Ted and Jackie   Best Section trophy
Ted Meachem presented Jackie Gray with a bouquet.   Best Section trophy, which we have won for 2013/14.
Photos: Ian Burt