Derek Thornbery's 80th Birthday - Tuesday, 31st July 2007 - The Orangery, Berners House, Woolverstone

We arrived around noon for a reception in the old Staffroom. It was a very moving and enormous pleasure to meet up with boys from so long ago, many of whom I had never met and others never seen for over 40 years. The one o'clock lunch in the Orangerie was accompanied by conjuring tricks from Fay Presto, and after lunch there was a magnificent entertainments programme organised by Zap (Kyriacos Tsaparelli) and Fay, including a very funny and moving speech by Derek himself.

We were stunned by the variety, professionalism and sheer fun of the entertainments; an amazing tour de force by ZAP & FAY. Bravo!

Most of the party repaired to the Butt for late afternoon tea outside overlooking the river and a smaller group stayed on well into the evening for a second cutting of the cake and final farewell to our host and his wife.









This was a day when everything seemed just right; the mood so light and happy.
For once we were able to forget the woes and cares of the outside world and enjoy a beautiful English summer's day in the company of old friends. It was a poignant feeling to be there in the Orangery on such a happy occasion, in the very same place which from the autumn of 1958 I had called home. I spoke to Derek a week or so after the party and he told me he was just delighted that it had all gone so well. He was still reliving in his memory every moment of this day which he had found so joyful and moving. He was only sorry he had not been able to invite more people, 80 being the limit the Orangery could hold, and he asked me to pass on his best wishes to absent friends and his thanks for so many wonderful memories.

It was a beautiful and unforgettable day and a fitting tribute to a wonderful career.