40th reunion of the HND in Hotel and Catering

23rd September 2014

Written by Bacchus Society member Peter Chapman '77

Some eighteen months ago the seed of an idea was sown that we should mark the 40 years since we commenced our studies at Oxford Polytechnic. One of our number with a group of hotels was happy to host it, so a small group of us congregated on a warm summer's evening in their garden to discuss what we could do.

Several hours later we had a bit of a plan and following a series of meetings (some rather heavy drinking ones as well) over the following months it all culminated in us gathering together on a fine autumnal September weekend at a hotel in south London.

We were all HND students on a Hotel & Catering Management course from 1974 -1977 and we managed to contact around 35 people from our roll call of 40 plus fellow students. The hard bit was locating and finding them all but with the use of old address books, social media and digging deep in the grey matter we did a pretty good job in locating so many.

Emails were sent inviting all to attend and the result was for a two day break in London we managed to get some 18 (with many partners) on the first night and then 32 on the second night with some of our former lecturers as well.

It was a lively weekend and there seemed to be a general feeling of 'had it really been 40 years since we all started', as the years just rolled back and the impish behaviour of some picked up where it had left off 40 years ago! Some said they were nervous on arrival... would they recognise each other - other halves equally were nervous but as a group we all gelled and much hilarity was had.

We held our reunion in London as it seemed the most logical as some jetted in from far flung places. One made the trek from Australia, another flew across the pond from the US and then another from Barcelona plus more locally Fulham! The time seemed to rush past as we packed in the catching up. Friday night dinner was followed by a drinking session in the hotel bar till 2am and then a group of 20 plus congregated in the hotel lobby on the Saturday afternoon and wandered up the road to the Shard. There we were treated to fine views from the 33rd floor with a glass of champagne before heading back to the hotel and sitting down to a fun-filled gala dinner complete with video message from a non-attendee direct from his catamaran moored in the blue seas off Bora Bora. The attendees started questioning where they had all gone wrong in their life plans after that!

Hits of the 70's played in the background and conversations flowed and friendships were rekindled. It seemed like yesterday we had all departed from our studies and embarked on our chosen career paths. For some it had been 37 years since we had seen each other, for others 20 years since we had last got together. We all remarked it should not be another 20 years before we got together and we all reflected how influential those years of study had been and how much fun we had. We all promised each other we would keep in touch and I believe we will and we hope those unable to make it this time will do so the next time.

The former classmate in Bora Bora will be passing through London next year and we hope he has deep pockets as he will need to buy us all a drink to make up for making us all feel pig sick at him!