Don White and I joined HSMC on the same day, November 8th 1976, I in the now long defunct role of cook/manager. At that time the Centre was just opening Garth House for accommodation; the two annexes were built and opened between 1977 and 1979. I lived briefly at Park House (with Miss Ryder) and then moved to the flat, later cottage, attached to Garth House. The Centre was still quite a small concern then - although expanded quickly and successfully - NHS purse strings were not drawn so tightly then. There was a wealth of catering and cleaning staff; Gill Davies was administrator and was replaced, when she retired, by Brian Read.
Mostly, I remember what fun we had - some memorable Christmas and end of course parties. I wish I had had the sense to carry a camera at all times. Alistair? and Graham Clark performing surgery on the Christmas turkey, Derek with a tea-cup tied round his neck acting as sommelier, Doug Weller up to his knees in the pond after an Easter egg, John Yates and Mike Davidge in surgical greens pushing Lorna Vickerstaff round the garden on a hospital trolley. Yes Mike Davidge, I too remember moving Penny from one office to another - the main landing was impenetrable.
I left HSMC in 1985 to work for Ford Tractors in Essex. Disaster! So, I hot-footed it back to the Centre the following year. University Hospitality and Catering had long been casting a beady eye at Garth and the Annexes and, in the early 1990s, successfully wrested them from HSMC. I, Alison Fuller, the late Linda Hill, Doreen Drew and others went, as part of the goods and chattels, to the expanding Lucas House Conference Centre and opened the newly acquired Hornton Grange.
I took early retirement in 2002 for a variety of reasons not least of which was the increasing frailty of my mother. I am now living a quiet but happy life in sunny Rutland with the third in a line of bull terriers (remember Bertie?) and, as Peter Spurgeon coined the phrase, I 'potter for England'.