The seventh annual reunion weekend of the Army Apprentice National Memorial Trust took place over the weekend of the 6th & 7th of May 2017, to which all ex -apprentices and their wives had been invited.
The weekends events started on Saturday with the eighth Annual General Meeting of the Trust,which was held in the Founders Room in the new reception building at the NMA (National Memorial Arboretum), in Alrewas,Staffordshire.
The extremely well attended AGM was followed in the evening by a Gala Dinner and after-dinner entertainment provided by the very versatile singing voice of Liverpool choirmaster James Loynes, at the Hallmark Mickleover Court Hotel, near Derby. This provided a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and colleagues from days long gone – and swap the inevitable war stories. It did allow an evening of light relief for the wives and partners before the serious business of the Drum Head service the next day.
The Drumhead Memorial Service commenced at noon on Sunday being led by our resident Padre the Rev Gary Kelly (himself an ex Carlisle apprentice). The weather was very kind as the service was conducted in absolutely glorious sunshine, and the scene was enhanced by the presence of The Army Apprentice Pipe & Drum Band in full highland dress and a total of nine Standards on parade representing the four major Army Apprentice establishments of Arborfield,Carlisle,Chepstow & Harrogate, with guest Standards from some of the Corps Veterans Associations that apprentices later served in, the RASC, RCT,RE,Royal Signals & REME.
The present Regular Army was represented by the current senior warrant officer of the R.E.M.E., the CASM (Corps Artificer Sergeant Major), WO1 Rich Bateman who was himself an ex Arborfield apprentice, who was roped in to participate in the service by reading the Memorial Poem, which is inscribed on the memorial centre disc.