Your chairman, President & Transport/Events Officer have just returned from celebrating the 100th birthday of Souvenir Normand’s oldest member, Madame Yvonne Joly Fix at the Domaine de la Grande Garenne in the Sologne area of France. The French Section were represented by Frank Hiverlet, son of the former Presidente of the Section, Marie-Rose Hiverlet. The whole week-end was devoted to celebrating Madame Joly’s birthday which included a champagne reception, commemorative flag ceremony, gala dinner, fireworks and finally brunch on the Sunday morning. A really joyous and fitting occasion for this lovely, charming lady.
We look forward to welcoming our members and guests to a showing of Dan Snow’s documentary entitled “Norman Walks’ followed by tea starting at 2.30 pm. at the Emmanuel Centre, Harrier Lane, off Marley Lane, Battle on Friday 18th October. This event was postponed from 11th October in order to allow many of us to attend the funeral of Peter Townley, former Souvenir Chairman, who passed away on 22nd September at his home in Herstmonceux. Peter is already greatly missed by all his many friends within the Souvenir.
Thank you to those members who supported me last week-end in publicising our Society and talking to all the interesting visitors who visited the stall based in the Old Refectory at Battle Abbey. My thanks also to Stephen Bradshaw and members of our ‘sister’ organisation the Battle Twinning Association who so ably supported us for the second year running. I am sure you will agree that we provided a colourful array of Normans !
As around a dozen of us bid a sad, but very fond, farewell to Peter at his funeral today in the lovely All Saints church in Herstmonceux, we give thanks for all Peter’s gifts and qualities freely given to the Souvenir Normand over many years. I feel his character is beautifully described in two tributes from our friends in the French Section:
“What a gentleman, charming and kind and endowed of a wicked sense of humour.” (Tony Rollett, Chairman of the French Section).
“A true gentleman, a wonderful host with his incomparable hostess (June), who received us all at their beautiful home in Herstmonceux. How wonderful to be able to say that you left so many people with such happy memories.” (Frances Nicholas, Hon. Secretary of the French Section).
Rest in Peace Peter.
My thanks to Andy Chapman, Judith Salmon and Jenny Muir who turned up, on time and raring to go to help me ‘stuff’ 51 Welcome Packs for all the delegates who are gathering in Norwich next week for the annual Souvenir Normand Reunion. As they say, when you REALLY want something done, ask busy ladies !
Looking out at winds gusting up to 70 mph this morning, I realise how lucky 13 of us were on our visit to Chichester on Thursday. Having started in dull, cloudy weather, as we approached the town the sun came out and stayed out all day. We were expertly guided around the remaining Norman architecture and stonework of the cathedral by the excellent and very knowledgeable Alan and frankly could have listened to him all day. Many of us had not been to the cathedral for many years and were impressed at the amazing combination of very old and very modern artefacts within it (many commissioned by a former Dean, the Rev. Walter Hussey). After a lovely lunch in the Pallant House Gallery restaurant, we spent the rest of the visit admiring the Bishop Palace gardens and window shopping down the pedestrianised High Street with its beautiful old Market Cross, the quaint shops and little alleyways. Thank you to my fellow members whose company made a delightful day even better.
Thank you to all of those members who attended Pat’s funeral on Monday 15th April. I was honoured to be asked by the family to pay a tribute to the great contribution to the Souvenir Normand that she made over so many years, ending up as our gracious President from 2014. My tribute is reproduced below:
TRIBUTE TO PATRICIA PLATTS
My name is Corinne Gibbons and I have the pleasure and privilege of being the current Chairman of the Souvenir Normand, a non-political Society formed in 1896 for the furthering of friendship and understanding between people in those countries where the Norman influence has been, and continues to be, prominent. The fostering of friendship between peoples and nations has always been at the core of our cultural, historical and social links with our Sections in France, Denmark, Canada & Norway all of whom I represent here today and who have sent me warm tributes to Patricia since the news of her passing filtered through the airwaves. Friendship and understanding between peoples of different nationalities and cultures has never, to my mind, been more needed than in the present day. Patricia (and her husband Peter) had a gift for friendship. Whenever you met her, she would quickly bring the conversation round to you: How are you ? What’s happening in your life ? How is Anthony and the children ? Did you mention that your daughter has just had twins ?! Goodness what hard work that must be! With that wicked twinkle in her eye, she would recount some story within her own vast experience that resonated with what you might be feeling at the time and which would invariable make you think “Well, I am not really so badly off after all.” Even on the last occasion that I visited her at the Peterhouse Unit in Bexhill, when she was already very frail, she managed to make me laugh and that smile and twinkle never faded.
Pat (as we knew her) was the type of person every chairman dreams about having on their committee. She and Peter joined the British Section of the Souvenir in the heydays of the 80s when Peter served as Hon. Secretary between 1984 and 1987, a post that Pat filled with equal distinction between 1993 and 1996 under the chairmanship of my larger-than-life Norman mother Jackie Simmonds, one of Pat’s most ardent admirers. As my father Trevor was wont to say: “Women like Pat and your mother were not born, but quarried” ! One of the briefs that Pat offered to cover was that of organising transport for both the Domestic programme of events in and around Sussex, and also for the many visits to our other Sections abroad. How she managed to do all of that and remain calm, unflustered and completely in control of every possible eventuality is a cause of huge admiration even now, but particularly in our household where my husband Anthony is in the throes of organising transport for our Reunion in Norwich later this year. But we should not be surprised: as a well-trained English nurse and with her vast experience of living and bringing up her family abroad, the difficulties of logistics were no match for Pat.
When my mother passed away in 2013, the Honorary Post of President of the Souvenir, which she had filled since 2002, was left vacant as a mark of respect. When I eventually became chairman in 2014 the committee and I decided that we needed to find someone again to represent the society as President, someone who (in the words of our Constitution) is a “person of eminence who has contributed substantially to the understanding of Norman culture or to the other objectives of the Society”. We had no difficulty whatsoever in choosing Patricia to fill this post which she did with charm and distinction until 2017. She is, and will be, hugely missed by all her many friends, past and present in the Souvenir Normand family.