FIFTY-THREE members and two visitors were welcomed to the July meeting which opened with the singing of England. Letters of thanks were received following last month's summer celebration meeting.

Yvonne Lauder spoke about outings to Kensington Palace, the Federation lunch, Christmas lunch and the pantomime. There were still some places left and monies would be collected at the September and October meetings.

The chairman gave a report on the National Conference in Harrogate in June, attended by the Princess Royal.

She also announced that the newly elected national chairman would be our guest of honour at our Diamond Anniversary Dinner on April 2, 2014.

Our speaker for the afternoon was Ron Kennedy, talking on trains. He gave an excellent history of his working life in railways and was able to tell us of some of his charity work in the Southend area since his retirement. Yvonne Lauder gave the vote of thanks.

The competition winners were announced and the raffle drawn.

There will be no meeting in August, but the September meeting will be on the 25th at 1.30pm at the Methodist Church Hall, in Hathaway Road, Grays.

Speaker will be Simon Dinsdale on the Lochness Story, the competition being a Scottish souvenir.