19th JUNE 2004



Saturday 19th June 2004. A very special day for me. When I announced that the very first BPAden Kids reunion was to take place in Linlithgow I had feelings of panic and excitement nearly every day. How was I going to pull it off in a rugby club?

Responses were slow at the start. Up until the end of April there were only 27 people coming. Then there was a steady flow of phonecalls and e-mails which ended up with 52 people saying they would attend. I charged £5 for the event then realised I had no decorations or anything. Then BP Grangemouth stepped in through Ken Richardson who is also a member of the rugby club. They sponsored the event which allowed me to purchase a Proper Yemen flag, table decorations and executive name badges. From a small event, it was turning out to be something potentially special.

I had put out a message to all that they were welcome from about 4 o'clock for coctails.My wife Anne and my mum and dad (Alice and Andy Young) all joined me in the club to set things up and basically wait. The weather wasn't great, so the Pimms had to be set up indoors. By about 5 o'clock nobody had arrived and my insides were fluttering. I need not have worried. Taxis started arriving. My mum was at the door to welcome everyone in. Through the glass door we could see into the cars arriving and we had great fun trying to recognise them before they got to the door. Some were easy. Older looking, but unmistakable. Everyone had name badges to help with the recognition process. I only made one mistake. My mother asked me who is Margaret Anderson? When she arrived I was told her name is Maggie. My mum said why didn't you say it was Maggie Anderson? One of the older generation (Gordon Faultless) had even walked from the train station (more than a mile) with briefcase in hand.

By 7pm, most people had arrived and were getting into the free Pimms while taking a walk through what I called memory lane (a corridor with photos on both sides of Aden, Jottings , and a Lap top playing a CD of Aden created by Tudor Rees and myself using his and my fathers footage). The noise level was high as everyone in the room was standing chatting to old friends. In fact, hardly anybody had bothered to use any of the seats I had laid out.

Nervously I introduced myself to the assembled company. I'm not into public speaking so I announced the film and promised the buffet would follow the film. Most people watched it. The film was called "We Found A Valley" and lasted 30 minutes, and showed the construction of the BP refinery in aden in 1954). After that it was time for the buffet (&ldots;.mental note for next year. "75 year old's don't eat as much as rugby players). The buffet was nothing short of magnificent. The table was laid out with a rice dish the focal point in the middle. It was so attractive I think nobody wanted to disturb it.

After the buffet it was time to circulate. I kept glancing at my watch and I remember thinking to myself that I would never have enough time to speak to everybody and I so wanted to thank everyone for making my day so special. I brought music but nobody asked for any. Everyone just wanted to talk and reminisce. I let them get on with it.

Dermot Tippins was present and he brought along a video he had taken in a visit back to Aden in 2000. He had some great footage of pretty much every landmark, although he did not get access to the Seamans Mission, or his old house for that matter!.

By this time it was after 10 o'clock and I still hadn't spent any time with some of the people I had wanted. I briefly talked to the Crowthers before their taxi. I didn't spend enough time with Wendy Hargreaves (we were discussing what it would take to get more people our age to attend next time). By the end of the evening, there was one group left sitting with the bar shut and most of the lights out at 2am. We had a great chat about lots of things and I remember thinking that I didn't want the evening to end. However, the bar man wasn't willing to give me the keys to shut the place up, so we had to go home. It was late and I was tired but I had an immense sense of satisfaction.

Jonathan Bomford made a speech towards the end and presented me with a card signed by everyone present which I will cherish. It was a dream of mine to attend this event, never mind organise it. I was impressed that so many of the "older" generation supported the event, and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. The cricket club enjoyed the left over buffet next day.

All that remains is to thank those who helped out, and to ask those of you who didn't (or couldn't) attend to make sure you don't miss the next one, it was a great experience.

Hit this link for Reunion 2004 Photo's

E-mail Craig Young