REFLECTIONS OF AN OUTGOING CHAIRMAN – MY PERSONAL HIGHLIGHTS OF THE LAST THREE YEARS AS CHAIRMAN OF THE NELSON SOCIETY…………….Graham Capel
My three years as Chairman of The Nelson Society came to an end on 31st December 2022. It was certainly an eventful time, and very busy with a lot to think about all of the time. My first year was ‘Covid stricken’ with virtually no events to attend. However, there was plenty of action behind the scenes, defending Nelson’s reputation from the onslaughts and allegations of slavery connections from the popular press. I think that the ‘battle group’ which we formed to combat this did admirably and continued throughout my 3 years in office brilliantly. Each and every allegation and action was contested strongly with the facts. I was very proud of our actions in this regard.
In my second year we got back to some degree of normality in the latter part of the year with a very enjoyable visit to Worcester. This went off very well for my first full function. Then we came to our 2021 AGM and Trafalgar Weekend in the City of London. The highlights for me as the organiser, and for all of our members who attended, was undoubtedly our AGM on board HQS Wellington, moored on the Thames. This was very special, as was our visit to the College of Arms, and John and Tina Callcut’s City Tour. Our Trafalgar Dinner at Drapers Hall was superb. The following day our attendance at the morning service at St Paul’s followed by a visit to the crypt and Nelson’s tomb was unforgettable. I was very honoured to lead The Nelson Society at these most prestigious events. We also celebrated 40 years since The Nelson Society was formed in 1981 at the Norfolk Club in Norwich, and it was a privilege to be back at the Norfolk Club in late 2021 to commemorate this.
3 CHAIRMEN BELOW THE BEECHEY PORTRAIT OF NELSON DRAPERS HALL
By 2022 I was getting used to the fulfilling the role of Chairman of such a prestigious society and I enjoyed a full year of events. Without a doubt the most prestigious was the invitation to attend the 225th anniversary of the Battle of Santa Cruz in Tenerife, where not only did Nelson lose the battle, but he also lost his arm. Obviously, as victors in the battle, and over the famous Nelson as well, they celebrated in style. We were treated ‘royally’ by the Tertulia de Amigos del 25 Julio 1797. Receiving the Plaque commemorating our visit from the Mayor of Santa Cruz in their Parliament Building will be an everlasting memory for me, and undoubtedly the highlight of my 3 years as Chairman. I still have it on the wall of my office! Another memorable event was being invited by the Laskaridis Foundation in Greece to the official opening of their new Nelson letters exhibition, ‘Nelson in his own words’, put together by Martyn Downer at the National Museum of the Royal Navy at Portsmouth, and dinner on board HMS Warrior afterwards.
CHAIRMAN RECEIVING THE PLAQUE FROM THE MAYOR OF SANTA CRUZ IN THEIR PARLIAMENT BUILDING
All of the other events throughout 2022 were very pleasant and I was very proud of our organising teams who put them on for our members. Our Trafalgar Weekend in Norfolk went very well. It was quite difficult to organise in King’s Lynn, which was a very pleasant surprise, and Burnham Thorpe some distance away. I am glad to say that it all went according to plan with 2 Trafalgar Dinners, one on Trafalgar Day on the Friday at the Lord Nelson Pub in Burnham Thorpe where we had opened the new ‘Experience Nelson’ exhibition, and the second dinner at the Dukes Head Hotel in King’s Lynn with speaker and well known Nelson historian and author, Dr John Sugden. However, the highlight for me was the church service in All Saints Church in Burnham Thorpe the following morning, organised entirely by our own Rev Terry Colling, as the church would not normally have had a service. It was well attended by Nelson Society members and local parishioners. A Nelson Society service in the village where Horatio Nelson grew up, in the Church where his father was Vicar and conducted by our own Hon Chaplain, the Rev Terry Colling, was truly memorable and an event to be proud of. St Paul’s one year and All Saints Burnham Thorpe the next, what more could a Chairman of The Nelson Society ask for?
IN ALL SAINTS CHURCH BURNHAM THORPE WITH THE REV TERRY COLLING
My warmest thanks to my Committee who have worked very hard to put on all of the events and make them all a success. Also, to all members of The Nelson Society for supporting me, and for our many ‘armchair members’ at home reading about what we organise, places we visit and events we put on as The Nelson Society. Thank you very much for three memorable years in my life. My most memorable events were as per the photos.
1) Drapers Hall standing with 2 other Chairmen beneath the famous portrait by Sir William Beechey, and the following grand Trafalgar dinner in the Livery Hall.
2) Receiving the Plaque of our visit to Santa Cruz for the 225 year celebration of the Battle of Santa Cruz from the Mayor of Santa Cruz in their Parliament Building,
3) Attending the Nelson Society Church Service led by our Rev Terry Colling at All Saints Church, Burnham Thorpe.
Thank you all.