|Waiting for his guests to arrive - what's that? Mineral water? Shurely shome mishtake!|
The back room of the Egerton pub in Hammersmith was packed last Friday night, crowded with LBHF staff, past and present, Roch's ex-colleagues and friends, Union comrades and some representatives from other organisations - old adversaries included. They had come to pay tribute and to make their farewells. But it wasn't a sad occasion. In fact, it was the best kind of party. Tables groaning with platters of delicious food prepared by a group of his (female) colleagues (a separate table for desserts!), plenty of booze available, and a room brimming with friendship and goodwill. It was, in fact, a typical Roch party. Around us I saw people greeting old friends with delighted hugs - catching up, exchanging news - a buzz of conversation, laughter and memories surrounded us. Roch makes friends like nobody else I know - and never hesitates to bring them together. All are welcome - especially down the pub!
There were speeches from Zahra, Roch's long suffering (and charming) line manager, Glendine, bravely representing Senior Management, Jonathan Hextall, former Union stalwart - the 'Elder Lemon', who recruited Roch to the Union twenty two years ago and of course, a speech from Roch himself. There were plenty of jokes about Arsenal, beer and how argumentative Roch can be (what? our Roch? Never!), but the room was silent as Jonathan described Roch as
a Man of Integrity, and went on to say that it was Roch's sense of social justice and his determination to remain impartial, to give everyone a fair hearing, that will be remembered - that and the fact that where Housing Law is concerned, everyone agrees that Roch is an absolute fount of knowledge. No-one to come to now with their questions, I'm afraid. They are gonna miss that.
He is overwhelmed by the generosity of the gifts he received from his LBHF colleagues - a huge sum in vouchers for IT equipment, a most excellent bottle of Prosecco - and a handsome pewter mug, which sports the following engraved message:
from all your friends
who have loved and
worked with you over
the years at
This is not including the individual gifts so many people brought along with them.
I can do no better than share with you some of the photographs from the evening - I hope they convey something of the atmosphere. Roch and I will certainly never forget it.
Special mention goes to Catherine, who managed to elude capture in any photograph (!) and Terry, friend and Union comrade. Catherine, for her quiet behind the scenes management, the production of her legendary Victoria sponge (amongst other culinary delights) and her hard work with the rest of the 'food committee' on the night. Terry - for so many things, but mainly for always being there.
|With our dear friend Dympna, who did a fantastic job as photographer on the night.|
Union Comrades! From left, Jonathan, Terry, Julia and Krissy
|Barbara and June|
Top picture: From left, Florence, behind Roch - John and April. At the back, Dave and Clive.
Bottom picture: Shauna, Angela, June and Farah.
|Posing with gifts|