Patron: His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales
The BPA Office in Leicester pictured taking delivery of a girder. It will hold up the ceiling of the ground floor multi-functional meeting room that has been carved out of the former office space - the offices are moving upstairs. It's part of a complete refurb of BPA's freehold premises to make a digital hub to serve members more efficiently and effectively for the next 25 years and beyond. BPA staff continue to occupy the building as the works take place in phases, whilst BPA meetings are temporarily relocated to a nearby venue. Work is scheduled to take 19 weeks and is due for completion in the autumn.
Graham Spicer (pictured inset), one of the BPA Archivists and Chair of the BPA IT Strategy Group, writes: "On Sunday 12 June 2016, as part of HM The Queen’s 90th Birthday celebrations, I had the good fortune to attend The Patron’s Lunch in the Mall and represent the BPA as part of the RAeC delegation. This was essentially a gigantic picnic, comprising some 10,000 people, who represented many of the organisations, including RAeC, of which Her Majesty is Patron. Click on red 'more' button to continue...
Unfortunately, the weather was fickle on the day, which made al fresco dining a challenge, but years of peering vainly at the sky waiting for the rain to stop at the DZ stood me in good stead. The rain was persistent until lunch time but the big drips coming off the trees whilst queuing for security were worse. Tickets became increasingly soggy, after being inspected several times, and many were deemed invalid at the final hurdle when they wouldn’t scan, or in some cases disintegrated entirely, but the organisers resolved this without any fuss. The crowd was soaked from the outset, despite the issue of rain ponchos, but everyone was good humoured and patient. “Well, that’s the end of this suit”, said someone.
A passing London Bobby made me laugh whilst queuing to get through security with the rain dripping off the end of my nose. He said ‘You should all be singing’ as he went past. Unfortunately, umbrellas were forbidden, so we couldn’t do the old routine involving puddles and a lamp post. It wasn’t a propitious day for blazer, tie and shiny shoes but by gad sir we’re British and one can’t let standards slip due to a little rain! Absolutely not. I envied the guests who had heeded the forecast and capitulated with boots, jeans and fleeces a little but then the sun came out and we were glad we were respectably attired, albeit a little mud spattered, when HRH Prince Harry decided to stop and talk to our table.
The much-vaunted M&S hampers were actually rather good. I’d feared the worst after all the hype but they didn’t disappoint and contained a delightful mix of contents for both lunch and afternoon tea. After the formality of Trooping the Colour the previous day we didn’t have the Massed Bands of the Household Division but there were plenty of other bands, both military and civilian, as well as dancers, roller-skaters, a large model of the former Royal Yacht Britannia on wheels and, for reasons known only to the organisers, a pig riding a tricycle. There was complimentary tea and ice-cream all day with the latter being surprisingly popular. So much so that the Wall’s vending points had to be replenished with Magnums every hour to prevent civil unrest!
Members of the Royal Family took a lot of time to speak to individuals in some depth, rather than just shake as many hands as possible, and HRH the Duke of Cambridge received a diplomatically worded invitation to speed up as his grandmother was patiently waiting to board the ‘Queenmobile’ to have a go. When Her Majesty arrived, attired in a rather striking shade of pink, she appeared to be enjoying herself immensely and the genuine affection displayed by the crowd was a joy to observe. This was a very historic but quintessentially British day, with queuing, inclement weather, humour, patriotism, unfeasibly large amounts of ice cream consumed in the pouring rain and, dare one say it, a little Blitz spirit mixed in equal quantities. Just like a rainy day at the BPA Nationals, really."
Updated 17 May 2012