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GRAND OPENING EVENT AT THE HOME OF NEW ROLLS-ROYCE MOTOR CARS, GOODWOOD
Saturday 10 May 2003

With approximately four hundred people Daphne and I presented ourselves at the new Rolls-Royce Plant in Westhampnett, near Chichester. The main entrance had recently been finished and looked very tidy since our last visit with the Section. We were greeted by the Company hierarchy, headed by the Chairman, Tony Gott.

Drinks and canapés were served before we toured a small exhibition of R-R memorabilia, much of which had come from Hunt House. We were then able to wander round the production lines and put any questions to the many staff, who stood at intervals down the rows of cars that were in the process of manufacture. Many of the guests had not seen the Plant before that evening and I am sure could not fail to be very impressed by the neat layout, tidiness and cleanliness of the work areas.

We assembled for a champagne reception before guided to an enormous marquee for dinner. We sat at a table of eight and our fellow guests where delightful. Each table had been decorated with an enormous bowl of beautiful red roses in the centre. The meal itself was a gastronomic experience with a selection of fine wines flowing continuously.

Whilst having our meal the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra played continuously some of my favourite music but it was difficult to hear above the noise of people having a good time! Intriguingly, whilst coffee was being served, we were each given a slightly oily spanner and a small square of aluminium (about the size of a coaster). Nobody on our table had a clue what this was for, but we had to wait for the explanation until after the rest of the entertainment - Rambert Dancers, Contortionists from Mongolia, Ukrainian Cossak Dancers that had us all enthralled.

Tony Gott addressed the honoured guests with a truly up-to-date exchange between himself and Sir Henry Royce who 'appeared on screen'. He then asked Lord Monague of Beaulieu to say a few words and officially open the Plant. This must have been a great honour for him as his father had declared open the first R-R Factory many decades before. We then used the spanner to make a lot of noise, which is known as the 'tapping out' ceremony, being a tradition from the time when a project was finished by the workers.

A dance band then took over the entertainment and those who wanted to could dance the rest of the night away!

I am sure the event will live on in my memory for the rest of my life and I am sure we all wish the new Company of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars every success for the future.

Tony Leach - Section Chairman