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TED MEACHEM'S 70th BIRTHDAY SURPRISE AT ROLLS-ROYCE MOTOR CARS
1 October 2011

Ted and Kate   In March 2011, we as a family decided to arrange for a Surprise 70th Birthday for our Dad. Bearing in mind that he is and has been for nearly nineteen years, the Secretary of the Central Southern Section of the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts' Club, we felt it would be a fitting tribute to host the party at the Rolls-Royce Manufacturing Plant at Goodwood.

After meeting Andrew Ball, Communications Manager, we were delighted that Rolls-Royce agreed to the event in October. So plans went into full swing and we decided that a quintessential English Afternoon Tea would be on the agenda. Also, what would be the best way to arrive at such a prestigious venue - it could only be a helicopter!

An invitation was sent to Dad, inviting him to a Birthday lunch at a surprise venue and that his carriage would arrive at 1.20pm on Saturday 1 October. Several months of planning and lots of little white lies, but the trap was set!

Ted and Kate.

So on the day at approximately 1.15pm, Dad was eagerly awaiting his carriage and then suddenly looked to the beautiful blue skies to see an equally beautiful blue helicopter circling and then landing in the front field. After much hilarity and excitement, Mum and Dad and our two daughters boarded the helicopter and flew from Southwater down to the Worthing coast and then across to Chichester through perfectly clear skies. We could not have asked for better flying weather in October as the sun was shining and we had temperatures of 25 degrees!

Meanwhile, at the Rolls-Royce Plant, guests were arriving in an assortment of cars including fourteen Rolls-Royces which were parked in a grand arc to the rear of the building, ready for the arrival of the helicopter. The guests waited excitedly in the atrium whilst enjoying drinks and the sunshine.

  The helicopter
Ted and Kate's daughters and granddaughters
Ted and Kate's daughters and granddaughters recalled favourite memories of their Dad.
 
Finally, after approximately forty minutes' flying time Dad arrived and, as he landed, he was avidly naming the owners of the RR motor cars parked outside! On entry into the atrium he was welcomed by a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday accompanied by a Champagne toast.

Later nearly eighty people enjoyed sandwiches, scones, tea loaf, cherry bakewells and cupcakes plus gallons of soft drinks and tea and coffee. We were also treated to a short tour to view the production lines and the wonders of the plant.

To complete the day RRMC provided a new chauffeur-driven Phantom to take Dad and Mum home after an unforgettable day.

We are most grateful to Fred Fruth for his input and to Rolls-Royce Motor Cars for providing the venue. The afternoon was a great success!

Joanna Barratt (née Meachem)


Afternoon tea   Rolls-Royce motor cars
Afternoon tea.   Rolls-Royce motor cars outside Rolls-Royce head office.
Photos: Ian Burt