THE BALLROOM at the Palácio Hotel in Estoril took on a very nautical theme recently with “splice the main brace” and “sailors hornpipe” to honour Lord Nelson. The event was organised by the UK Service Community at NATO Joint Command Lisbon and by the Royal Navy personnel in particular, reports The Resident’s Bob Hughes.
By tradition in the Royal Navy, the wardroom (officers’ mess) always hold a Trafalgar night dinner on the anniversary of the battle. Separately, the senior ranks hold a Trafalgar related dinner known as ‘Pickle Night’, named after HMS Pickle, which sped back to Britain after the battle to bring news of the victory to London. This year, however, for the 200th anniversary, they wanted to do something different to bring the whole UK NATO community together. Thus, a combined event took place with an added dance which livened up the proceedings. The event was attended by all ranks of British personnel from the three armed forces, their guests as well as other nationalities from the NATO base in Oeiras.
The Mess President for the evening was Deputy Senior British Officer at NATO Lisbon, Group Captain Andy Dey of the Royal Air Force (Senior British Officer, Air Commodore Walton, is currently deployed with a NATO contingent, co-ordinating disaster relief operations in Pakistan). Before the meal, grace was delivered by the new Church of Scotland Minister in Lisbon, the Rev David Huie, a retired Royal Navy Chaplain.
Guest of honour was Deputy Commander at NATO Lisbon, Vice-Admiral Fernando José Ribeiro de Melo Gomes of the Portuguese Navy. He gave an enlightening speech about the great courage of Nelson and mentioned how he was proud to wear the black ribbon that all Portuguese sailors wear in great respect for one of Britain’s finest naval officers. He proposed the traditional toast to the Immortal Memory of Admiral Lord Nelson. In his speech, he also highlighted the centuries old link and friendship between the UK and Portugal, and paid tribute to all those who gave their lives in the battle in the service of their countries.