2017 Reunion Report

The Society’s 2017 Reunion

A report by Mike Storey, reunion organiser

On Sunday 15th October 2017, in excess of 80 guests attended our bi-annual reunion, held (as in many previous years) at the Honourable Artillery Company, in City Road, London. (Rail disruption had unfortunately prevented some members from arriving, always a potential problem on a Sunday.)

As a first however, we had booked the Prince Consort Suite, which gave us the largest floor space that we have ever had before. This was only possible due to generous sponsorship from Google Inc., plus a substantial discount from the venue itself, the HAC.

This year Tetley Tea and UCC Coffee generously provided Lyons tea and coffee bags respectively, that was served on the day.

For many years we have displayed our memorabilia and other artefacts, at these reunions. This year, we added a special display relating directly to J. Lyons & Co Ltd. – to mark the centenary of Joe Lyons’ birth.

In addition to this, we took the opportunity to showcase our new Heritage Project – there is a separate article on this elsewhere in the Newsletter. Our newly acquired exhibition backdrop panels were set up to provide us with four separate displays:-

1 J. Lyons & Co Ltd – hosted by Veronica King and Neville Lyons

2 LEO Hardware exhibits – hosted by Tony Morgan and Vince Bodsworth

3 LEO Software and Paper memorabilia – hosted by Bob Stevenson and Peter Byford

4 The New Heritage Project- hosted by John Daines and Elisabetta Mori

After time for guests to circulate and look at the displays, meet up with old friends and have a light buffet lunch, the formal proceedings were introduced by our chairman, Peter Byford. Peter went on to give a roundup of activities since the previous reunion, and then took a vote on acceptance of the Societys’ new Constitution.

Our guest speaker was Neville Lyons, with a fascinating illustrated talk on the formation of the J. Lyons catering empire; from its very early roots as a cigar importer, to its heyday with tea shops in abundance as well their famous Corner houses and hotels. Although heavily based in London, the tea shops themselves were spread far and wide throughout the country.

John Daines then explained the ethos behind, and the future plans for, our new Heritage Project.

We had a financially successful raffle, with prizes donated by several industry-related companies / organisations, together with many members of the committee. In addition we had merchandise and book sales, with a very nicely-designed and inscribed mug.

One specific piece of memorabilia that was recently donated to the Society, concerned a picture that had been painted of one of the (then) GPO Leo III installations. The picture was reproduced, by the GPO, to make an internal poster; this was then widely displayed in many of their computer operation establishments, around the country. The poster is reproduced here, and both it, and the painting, will be on show again at the next reunion.

The committee would like to thank all those members who completed a subsequent reunion questionnaire, regarding such issues as the preferred geographical location, day of the week, ticket price and general forward direction that our 2019 reunion should take. It was satisfying to discover that the committee’s existing views were largely confirmed by the questionnaire’s consolidated answers.

At the time of writing, the venue for 2019 is still under review, although a short list has been drawn up. It is, however, scheduled for the Spring of 2019 – and we will let members know in good time of all the details.