Family Gatherings

2006 Canada & USA


The 2006 North American Gatherings
Report by Derek Bickford-Smith

The spirit of 'Family' was celebrated with great joy at these gatherings! So much the greater because of the presence of Norfolk Town, New York State Supervisor, Malcolm Starks and Library Director, Vicky Brothers with their families - Bill Richardson and wife Cynthia Mitro-Richardson - Wendy & Jim Warrillow - Those lovely ladies from The Norfolks of Manitoba, Pearl and Nadine Dobbin - our irrepressible North America coordinator Marian O'Keefe - Tom, Ian and Gillian of Norfolk Island - Jacky and Damian of New Norfolk, Tasmania - Erica and Michael Salt from Jamaica - and of course Marjorie Marshall, Janice & Roger Clarke, Marie McKeown, and June & Jim Marriage from our own Norwich and Norfolk. I'm sure to have forgotten someone - do SHOUT and the website will be amended.

The Third World Family Gathering
Ontario, Canada - October 5th to 8th 2006

The Canadian Gathering was arranged under the umbrella organizations of Mayor Rita Kalmbach of Norfolk County and Mayor Susan Hampson of Norwich Township, Oxford County

enthusiastically supported by our own UK Norfolk County Lord Lieutenant, Richard Jewson JP, Norfolk County Council Chairman, Patrick Hacon and City of Norwich Lord Mayor, Felicity Hartley.

The central date of this, the first ever world gathering on North American soil was at The Norfolk County Fair and Horse Show, October 7th.
Karen Matthews, show director, was the central arranger and indeed originator of the whole concept. Hers was the liaison and programme outline - beginning with "This is what we have organized Derek......!"

"This" was an introduction as to the areas historic background - the 'war of 1812' - the 'Empire Loyalist' refugees and the strong Quaker influences. All news to us Europeans with our self interests in Napoleon's adventures of the same date.
The introduction was conveyed to us by those excellent gentlemen Bill Yeager (Curator) & Chris Farrow (Historian) in company with those charming ladies of The Norfolk Heritage Centre and Eva Brook Donley Museum at Simcoe, the capital of Norfolk County.

Mayor Rita Kalmbach oversaw the first reception with her councilors and staff before we were whisked, in that evocative school bus driven by redoubtable and happy to chat driver Ann (her most helpful manager John Prendergast) to 'Colonel' or was it 'Kernal' Peanut, the master afternoon visit with his 99 species of that nut's marketability and the Elephant totem at his gate - later presentations by 'Milly', Port Dover Information executive in our tour of Port Dover and a gargantuan dinner where we presented our family plaques to all the country representatives.

Mayor Susan Hampson (with surprising community Jamaican namesake connections) and of the same charming Mayoral pattern, bade us welcome to Norwich Township at her evocative Norwich Village Agricultural Museum. This included that fellowship delegation from Norfolk, Nebraska, led by The Mayor and our stalwart supporter Harley Rector. A tour by that so well informed Marie Avey. A presentation of Halloween shirts and lots and lots of chat!

A lunch with full Royal Canadian Legion ceremony; organized by Lance and Jaqueline Body gave memories both of the first gathering's Royal British Legion's reception in 1996, and even before that, my reconnaissance in 1993 to experience their monthly community breakfast. Another 'royal' occasion for their whole community (absolutely everyone! - something for us all to follow ???).

Then off to the memorial railway station, the water mill and the church with ladies serving home made cakes - warm memories and charmingly guided!
And then a real celebration! - Canadian Thanksgiving! Marie Avey's Turkey and Pumpkin dinner for 130! (The Canadian Thanksgiving celebration predates that of The USA by several years) A really fabulous occasion!

The Norfolk County Fair and Horse Show! a five day show for thousands! Our part on that parade with those of scarlet coated Norfolk Nebraskans! The organization of Karen Matthews without fault (not surprising that we saw so little of her!) - the food - the side shows - our own 'Uncle John' - the food - those totally well presented horses, drivers, wagons - the food - a show of shows and recognisably the premier of all Canadian agricultural shows! Everybody wanting to chat!

After such a busy day, off to Niagara for a little relaxation - save for those irrepressible Norfolk Islanders who lightened Canadian gambling pockets by several hundred dollars, and a realization that 'The Falls' can be turned off when there is no one to see them!

Then across the border into New York State for our 4th Gathering with 4 Norwich communities!

The Fourth World Family Gathering
New York State, U.S.A. - October 9th to 12th 2006

First, Norwich City, Norwich Town, North Norwich - all in New York State. The latter being the most important by reason of Jan Decker, historian and organizer supreme. Jan Decker, whose husband Dick is supervisor of North Norwich and Chairman of all supervisors in Chenango County. Jan Decker, who gathered together the influentials of the three Norwich not only for the evening banquet but also for community breakfast before they had to go off to their work.

The City shops had 'Welcome to The World Family of Norwich & Norfolk' posters in their windows.

There were visits to the Church and graveyards of history, the school summoned back by their most delightful of Head Teachers for the National Holiday of Christopher Columbus! Some boy pupils not excited at the prospect of meeting Norwich people and losing their free time, but eyes sparkled when introduced to pictures of Norwich UK and then questions galore!
The greatest of occasions on this, the fourth world gathering of our family ! Citations - tokens of friendship - Presentations to be made to our own community leaders in England - The unique rubber hammer pencils of Judge Sullivan (who also provided us with the most delicious bread for our 5 hours to New York)

Our thanks to Mayor Maiurano of The City of Norwich, Supervisor David Law of Norwich Town, Supervisor Conley of Shernbourne, The Council representatives, The Chambers of Commerce, The Historians, The Museums, and especially to Jan Decker, organizer of the greatest USA World Gathering, and one where we enjoyed the greatest community representation, ever!

Then on to New York City with all its marvels. But a special one for us was the Restauranteur - James Cawdron and his Orsay Restaurant (James comes from our Norwich City) and what a superb restaurant it is - especially when arriving in a 'stretch Limo'!

After the break in New York, on to East Norwich Hamlet and meeting the President of The Committee of The Beautification of East Norwich, J.M.Scheich Esq - of the most fabulous wine ever enjoyed! but that comes later.

A visit to the now Museum of Raynham Hall as belonged to by the Townsend family, founders of this Community and related to the now Townshend Family of Raynham Hall, Norfolk County, UK? The Marquis of Townshend was hesitant in allowing a relationship in 1993 but subsequently feels more friendly after their recent donation to the repairs to the Townshend Chapel?
Such history of the defeat of the British forces must not be diminished by reference by 'The British' to The French & German backing at that time as well as the basic delineations by our own Thetford, Norfolk Gentleman John Payne - nor to the greater and more disastrous conflagration of the later civil war of the American States - all in the spirit of true friendship of course!
The discovery by historian Hammond of the original graveyards was fascinating and hopefully our visit might lead to a greater interest and restoration?

Then to the top restaurant of Long Island - this confirmed that Long Island is that of the American Presidents!
We were received in that regal line with aperitif and canape that were delicious, our own 'blazon' on the menu and a company that included the very representative of the Governor of The New York State and its Assembly - John Venditto, Supervisor of that overall administrative centre, Oyster Bay Town- his eminence marked by his Entuorage, his photographers and even by our putting on our coats at his entrance (such had been the heat of the evening) - all absolutely charming and presenters of Citations to the leaders of our own community with especial citation to Her Majesty The Queen - this latter in the process of being acknowledged after showing to Her Majesty.

Jack Scheich is a very sophisticated man of the world - his choice of restaurants goes to prove and his own personal wine served before his guests was impeccable. My appreciation was shown that in the speed of the moment I had little chance to enjoy the food. So much so that I asked for a doggy bag for the meat and enjoyed it when I got home. Thank you Jack!

The World Gatherings of world gatherings and names to be remembered for ever!

Derek Bickford-Smith
Retiring convenor to The Norfolk & Norwich World Family

PS: The Norfolk Islanders, as is their individual wont, were invited and enjoyed immensely the welcome of their Sister City Norfolk, Virginia - organizer Elizabeth Vickers and the ever encouraging City Clerk Breckenridge Daughtrey.
We promoted that city's Azelea Celebration for 2007

PPS: The delivery of citations and plaques to our own Norfolk County & its capital Norwich City on December 20 was greatly enjoyed in that we had a flowing show of some of the 500 photographs and were able to greet all those friends again!

Uploaded: 10 January 2007