Write-up by Alex Cameron
After the long absence of Society meet-ups through 2020 and the first half of 2021, it's great that we are now once more able to ease back into what is a lot more like the old swing of things. Last September's dinner at Banavie is still very fresh in the memory, and there has also been the recent trip to Islay too. With the turn of England to host this year, The Park House Hotel in Shifnal just east of Telford was a really great find for the Saturday night dinner venue.
Just like the Betws-y-Coed meet in 2017, it was nice to have only a relatively short train journey over to nearby Wellington on Saturday morning. I had pre-arranged to meet Tony Jenkins as I was quite loaded with RHSoc mugs and t-shirts for the merchandise table. We filled in the afternoon with an enjoyable circuit of the trio of Tumps northeast of The Wrekin and then an obligatory re-ascent of The Wrekin itself, enjoying stunning views westward into central Wales right as far away as Cadair Idris. At the same time, around 30 RHSoc Members and one younger invitee ascended Upper Park, with access arranged by Barry Smith. The intervention of some cows made it less straightforward than anticipated...
The Park House Hotel beckoned and next thing we knew the clock had swiftly crept around to AGM time. Once again it was encouraging to see how well attended this was. Proceedings began with Barry Smith's summary of Society finances and Rick Salter's chairman report, and then the last hour was filled with a general open discussion where a good many folk had the opportunity to voice their thoughts and opinions on improving The Society. Chris Ottley was given the task of noting down the minutes of the meeting and I'm sure these will be made available for everyone's perusal in a forthcoming update.
There was a short break whilst the room was set up for dinner and on our return, Tony and I busied ourselves with manning the merchandise table with a good steady flow of people coming over to us and also casting their votes in the photographic competition organised by Jenny Hatfield. It felt quite a privilege taking up my place on Table 1 right at the front of the room, though I did have a brief moment of panic when I sat back down for my dessert only to find that prankster Douglas Law had sneakily taken my sticky toffee pudding and looked like he was just about to start tucking into it himself!!
Then followed the best part of every RHSoc dinner when the Hall of Fame/Completion badges are presented to a small number of super-busy members. I was on double duty this time myself handing out the badges for Simms and SIBs as well as the Dodds. Also, in recognition of having completed the Simms last year, and more recently passing the uppermost milestone of 13,000 Tumps. the prestigious Mad Baggers trophy deservedly went to Rob Woodall for making these quite remarkable achievements.
To conclude the formal proceedings of the evening we then enjoyed a half-hour talk on Welsh place-name research courtesy of Myrddyn Phillips. Myrddyn has such a wealth of knowledge about all aspects of the Welsh upland landscape and it was fascinating to hear him talk at length about how he goes about his study both through the physical medium of archives and also via direct contact with local folk who've closely known the land their whole lives.
I would just like to say a big Thank You to everyone involved in putting on such an excellent event. I am most definitely already looking forward to what is now being planned as we speak for next year's gathering up in the Skye area of northwest Scotland. Make sure you get your place booked early when the time comes around as it's guaranteed to be a very popular event.