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Derbyshire Dales Group Inauguration 25th Anniversary Celebration – 2015

2015 was a celebratory year for lots of reasons, not least with the commemorations for the signing of the Magna Carta, the Battle of Waterloo, the Battle of Britain, and many more. So, no matter how laudable and remarkable were such events, we felt we also needed an opportunity to celebrate the Derbyshire Dales Group twenty-five year anniversary!

As we all know, the TR Register was founded in 1970, so Derbyshire Dales Group is 'nobbut a sprog'; a newcomer, only being formed in 1990. A well-known mixed blessing is: 'may you live through interesting times' and 1990 was certainly an 'interesting time' for the TR Register. It had posted operational losses for two years in succession, we had had three Treasurers in the previous year, and several key positions within the committee were relatively new appointees, including the Chairman. To add to the mix in 1990 a few members of the Trent Group resident in the further reaches of Derbyshire and North Nottinghamshire felt that the distant trek to the Trent meetings was a stretch too far and that there was scope for a new Group in the area. Hence, the Derbyshire Dales Group was formed, a move not terribly popular with some members of the Trent Group at that time.

This initiative to form a new Group was promoted by Stuart Jenkins and Steve Millward, who started the first meeting with a total of six attendees. Meetings began at the The Bull's Head in Ashford in the Water in the Derbyshire Dales, but some years later eventually transferred to the Amber Hotel near Alfreton, this location being more conveniently located for most of the membership of the time.

Twenty-five years on, and with a very active membership now standing at eighty-three and still growing, it was felt that we ought to mark this momentous (for us!) anniversary. Several initiatives were considered; a veritable page-full in fact - not least among these being commemorative regalia in the form of an appropriately badged cap and a windscreen sticker (let's face it, with a Group Leader who is also the Regional Director, who is also responsible for organising the Register's regalia, what less could we expect?) and a run culminating at the good-old Bull's Head.

The task of organising the run fell to the hands of Peter Jenkinson and Barry Cockayne.

So it was that they arranged that on the 22nd August the Group should assemble at the splendid Sherwood Foresters' Memorial at Crich Stand. This location, at the crest of one of the highest hills in the immediate area, is marked by a stone tower some 19m/64' high with an observation platform giving extensive views of the surrounding countryside and easily seen from a good distance around. Towers of various designs and construction have stood on or near this site since around 1760, but in 1922/1923 the current tower was erected and commemorated and along with its hilltop location the site became a memorial for the Regiment of the Sherwood Foresters.

As is usual there was a good turnout of members' cars, most arriving with hoods down. The abating of some early showers followed by bright sunshine can only have helped the turnout. Or perhaps those attending had got wind of the beer and barbecue planned later? Whatever, whilst we were maneuvering the cars and shoe-horning them into the available grassed spaces a couple of us managed to park our TRs on grass surrounding the Regimental flagpoles, not realising that this was hallowed ground and excluded from public access. We were soon appraised of this by one of the wardens, who had probably served as a Sergeant Major in the Regiment, and whose shouted command of 'get off the grass' was powerful enough to raise the rooks from their roosts, was not to be challenged, and was promptly obeyed!

Pride of place among the assembly of TRs was TS2, gamely driven up from Didcot by Jim Tully. TS2 duly led the procession of cars along the crest of the range of hills leading to Chatsworth, through the Chatsworth Estate, then on to Ashford-in-the-Water, just north of Bakewell. Also included in the procession was the ex-police TR4 of Mark Simpson complete with its original-style (but temporarily masked) 'Police' signs, guaranteed to turn a few heads - in the car parks, at least!

At Ashford in the Water Peter and Barry had arranged for our cars to park on the grassed field of the village recreation park and playing field behind The Bull's Head, normally excluded to vehicles. Incredibly, to facilitate access to the Bull's Head from the park, the landlords had demolished part of their boundary wall and laid a path of straw over the rough ground to gain access to their beer garden. As if not enough had already been done to welcome our arrival, we were also met by a quarter peal of bells from the village church - a 'quarter peal' being a non-stop ringing of bells lasting for some forty minutes. Momentous arrival indeed!

The count of TR's reached 36, along with an MGA, MGTD, and Citroën Maserati SM, all in gleaming and splendid condition. Along with those who had joined us at Crich Stand, we had several visitors from nearby Groups, notably Leicestershire, White Rose, Lincolnshire and East Saxons (apologies if we have missed out any other visiting centres - no doubt we will soon be corrected - and never forgiven - if we have done so!).

Drinks, test drives of TS2 around the local hills for a lucky few, a really good barbecue provided by the Bull's Head and convivial conversation all passed the afternoon in sunshine (nothing short of a miracle in itself judging by this summer so far!). Glasses of fizz all round (Shloer, just for the record) and the slicing of a cake courtesy of the Bull's Head accompanied a few awards.The award for the longest serving member went to Paul Hodgkinson, one of the original members and an attendee at the first meeting at the Bull's Head and still a regular attendee at the Amber (sorry we managed to miss-spell your name on the award, Paul - we'll probably get it right soon), the furthest-travelled went to Allen Jezzard from East Saxons, and the best turned-out TR, as selected from a poll of all the TR & classic car drivers there, went to Steve and Julie Buxton and their magnificent red TR250. Fair to say that this award could easily have gone to several cars such was the incredible standard of our pride-and-joys on display.

We all wended our happy ways home during the afternoon, for most of us just before the thunder clouds gathered and dropped their rain on our shiny metalwork. Steve and Julie in their prize-winning 250 didn't make it home in time and unknowingly pulled onto a fire station forecourt to erect their hood. They were appraised of their error when the doors of the station slid open with one of the engines about to emerge! Jim and Chris, in TS2, were also caught in the downpour and soon learned of the limitations of the early hood design of cars of the 50's when a bow-wave from another car penetrated under the hood-seal and soaked Jim. Chris, having caught no more than the merest splash, thought Jim's soaked state somewhat amusing!

So, well deserved votes of thanks go to George and Katie Maynard as the landlords of the Bull's Head for their incredible accommodation of our event, to the Parish Councillors for their forbearance, to the bell ringers with their aching arms and ears, to Peter and Barry and their wives for their immaculate organisation, and not least, to the weather, which just-about got it right – for most of us!

Derbyshire Dales Group

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