BSSG 2001 ANNUAL SYMPOSIUM REPORT
Churchill Hotel ~ Dover ~ 13th – 15th September 2001
By Barbara Blackston & Peter Fraser
Teamwork between the Churchill Hotel in Dover and the Symposium Committee resulted in a very successful Symposium 2001 judging from the comments of the delegates. The sunny, warm days also added to the friendly atmosphere.
Of course the tragic events in America were very much in everyone’s mind and our hearts went out to our overseas friends from the U.S.A. who were so far from home and naturally wished to be with their countrymen at such a time. At the AGM on Friday 14 September a three-minute silence was observed to remember our friends who were suffering across the sea. The proceedings were opened by The Worshipful Town Mayor of Dover, Councillor Diane Smallwood who was then taken on a tour of the trade stands. The exhibition was very well supported by the suppliers. We were very pleased to welcome the new faces among our old friends who have served us so well in the past. The extra trade stands meant that space was somewhat limited this year but everyone co-operated very well to fit into the room. Moral of the story is please book early to avoid disappointment.
The first Lecture was given by Mr. John Davies Development Manager of Bohle Limited formerly Berlyn & Bailey, on UV Bonding. He lectured from 2:00 p.m. till 5:25 p.m. and I can only say he kept everyone on the edge of their seats for all this time, which was no mean feat. In the first half hour he told me where I have been going wrong by using a solvent to clean the glass. This is the last thing one does. Near the end of his lecture a member asked him if he could glue a joint to a tube so that it could be used as a holder and then burnt off in the oven. The other area he covered was the use of coloured glues as an art medium; this had some very interesting effects. Friday’s Lecture in the morning was by David Bayliss of BG Industries on Gas Cylinders and related issues. This threw up some very interesting facts about the life of a gas regulator valve and how often they should be checked and changed.
The first Lecture on Friday afternoon was by Ian Pearson, it was delivered in his normal style. He told us how he designed and built the giant figure and the related ideas around it.
The second Lecture was from Brain Philp who works for the Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit and is in charge of a number of archaeology sites in the area. He showed a number of slides of different pieces of glassware and created a debate on a wide area of historical issues. The last Lecture of the afternoon was from Fritz Ackerboom with his collection of other things, half the audience got drowned and the rest got showered in broken glass. We were then blown up by a bang we had forgot was coming it took so long. Its amazing what can be done with a candle. Saturday’s Lecture was from Peter Fraser on a Vacuum system and related glassware he had designed with Angelo Bifone of the Royal Marsden Sutton.
The social side of the Symposium was kicked off by the zany entertainment provide by Crisco who wanted a pretty female assistant. The role was filled by brave Jenny who was “volunteered”, and spent what looked like a rather uncomfortable time stretched out on an ironing board.
Afterwards the result of the glass jewellery competition was announced, the prize being won by Steve Ramsey, who produced a most unusual piece of wedding jewellery. Afterwards all the pieces were auctioned in aid of the two charities selected by the Committee, these were ‘Footprints’, a holiday home for very severely disabled children, and ‘Pegasus’ for children with severe learning difficulties. The guests who bid resulted in £400.00 being raised. The Committee would like to thank everyone who gave their time and money so generously in support of these children. Our thanks also go to Graham Reed who acted as auctioneer with such aplomb. A stained glass panel of the Society’s logo made by Kevin Wale was purchased by the Society in aid of the selected charities.
As usual the Annual dinner on Friday was a very convivial affair attended by The Mayor and her Escort. After an excellent dinner served promptly by the cheerful and willing staff of the Churchill Hotel we were given an after dinner speech by Andy Roberts, Sector Manager of The Dover Coastguard. His talk about his work was both thought provoking and amusing but made everyone give a little more thought to safety on board ship. Andy gave his speech in aid of Pegasus; he has a son with severe learning difficulties.
After the toasts and award ceremonies the charity raffle was drawn. The total of this was £213.11 (we are not sure who put in the 11p but suspect it may have been an over generous Scotsman). The guests then moved towards the bar to finish off their evening in more relaxed surroundings. The conversations must have been riveting as rumour has it that a few people saw dawn rising beyond the Harbour wall and an exhausted night porter made his weary way home.
By Barbara Blackston
Ten ladies packed into a 30 seater coach on Thursday afternoon for the short trip to Dover Castle to visit The underground Cabinet Rooms inside the White Cliffs of Dover (no blue birds were flying over them only very noisy seagulls).
First impressions were rather claustrophobic in the dark, poorly lit tunnels winding through the underground labyrinth. When the lights went out from time to time (simulating) the effect of the generators faltering, it was absolutely pitch black. We heard voices from the past as the casualties were brought into the hospital area. We stood listening in the operating theatre as the surgeons decided whether to amputate the leg of an injured pilot whilst around us was all the equipment of an operating theatre of the time, made more realistic by the bloodstained operating table. The lighting was so poor it was difficult enough but the lights often failed at crucial moments and surgery had to be completed by torchlight.
The kitchen area of the tunnels was a bleak place but pin-ups from newspapers and magazines together with propaganda, to prevent careless talk, adorned the walls in the dining areas. We heard service women giggling as they discussed their Superior Officer’s method of checking they were wearing regimental issue knickers.
Some of the tunnels were built in Napoleonic times. Vice Admiral Ramsey and Winston Churchill masterminded the evacuation of Dunkirk landings from here.
On Friday morning our numbers increased to twelve when we set off for Canterbury and a tour of the imposing Canterbury Cathedral. On arrival the grounds and nave were full of Americans seeking solace from the devastating events of the previous few days. We were moved to tears as we joined with them for the three-minute silence and the short service of prayers.
Our guide was extremely knowledgeable; he took us to many parts of the building that we would probably never notice on our own. Many fine details were pointed out as we toured the cloisters, the Chapter House, many of the small chapels, the place where Saint Thomas Becket was murdered, the tomb of the Black Prince and the magnificent crypt. We even sat in the choir stalls. The stories recorded symbolically in the stained glass from ancient to modern times were explained to us. We finally stood in appreciation of the most modern stained glass window, its colour being brilliantly clear, we were told this is because modern glass being more pure allows the light though in a way that the mediaeval glass could not. It recorded the events of the first half of the 20th C. including the 1939-45 war and the holocaust.
After being on our feet for so long we enjoyed lunch in the appropriately named Pilgrims Rest Hotel followed by two hours of what we ladies do best. If you haven’t guessed already it may well involve a small piece of plastic!