Salterns SC 50th Anniversary
On 4th September 2010, Salterns held a 50th Anniversary regatta and celebration evening attended by nearly 400 past and present members. During the evening Major Tony Hibbert presented Salterns with his MBE for services to sailing. Jeff Dudley responded on behalf of the Club.
On behalf of Salterns Sailing Club I am delighted to accept this MBE from Major Tony Hibbert, our founder. I know that he looks upon this as Salterns’ Colours – rather like regimental colours – and we are honoured.
Salterns is a special place. As we have heard from Tony it was made – excavated from old salt pans. But it is so natural now and is a SSSI and more. It is a magical place. It is a unique sailing venue that has been a home and water playground for thousands of young sailors over the years. Some of these sailors have reached the pinnacle of sailing –for example Pippa Wilson 2008 Olympic gold medallist.
But it is the people that have made Salterns what it is. Hundreds of people have helped to run Salterns over the years. The Junior Committee, where youngsters learn to organise, to give their time, to share responsibility and to lead.
The Senior Committees, where so many have given so much of their time. John Claridge, Geoff Stock, and Tony Harris stand out in my memory over the last 15 years but it is invidious to leave out many, many others and I apologise for doing so. But there is one man to whom we all owe a huge debt of gratitude – our founder Major Tony Hibbert.
Many of you may not realise what a remarkable chap he is. In the war he was at Dunkirk. He was one of the officers at Arnham parachuted behind German lines with the 1st Paras. Youngsters, if you do not know about Arnham, ask your parents to get the film “A Bridge too Far” and when you have watched it remember that you have met one of the officers shown in the film – Tony here – and that he founded Salterns. In May 1945, just days before the war ended, he persuaded the German army in Kiel to surrender and so stopped the Russians from seizing Denmark. Let me read you an extract from the Telegraph 20th June 2010.
“Major Tony Hibbert… who had already won the Military Cross for his heroism, was given the Great Seal of Kiel by Germany’s UK Consul in a ceremony at Trebah Gardens near his home in Cornwall…..Hibbert was given the order to go with 500 commandos “to take Kiel, hold it and stop the Russians”. “I was given no explanation (Tony said) but was told that the order had come direct from Eisenhower and the other allied leaders, so I presumed it was very serious.”…..His duty officer, who was kept in the dark, told him he could not go to Kiel , behind enemy lines, and he disobeyed orders “for the first time in my life” .…Once they arrived in Kiel, the commandos embarked on several missions including a search for Admiral Doenitz, commander of the German fleet, who had taken over from Adolf Hitler following the Fuhrer’s suicide. Major Hibbert and his aide drove to the German naval headquarters. The major was in plaster and on crutches at the time, following an earlier crash in a jeep under German fire and was unable to get up the steps. “A German naval officer stood at the top of the steps watching me with disgust”, he said. “I put up my hands and said, “I have come to help you to end this..war”. He helped me up the stairs and within 10 minutes he spoke to his leaders and agreed the surrender of the German west Baltic fleet and troops in Schleswig- Holstein and Denmark. “The mission was successful because we stopped the Russians who wanted to take Kiel, Denmark and, as I discovered only recently, Norway too.” (The Russian tanks arrived 24 hours later but after a brief confrontation, they withdrew.) After the incident Major Hibbert was arrested for disobeying orders (actually, Tony says, he was arrested twice) but he soon was freed when the full story emerged and he was then taken to hospital to recover from his broken leg.”
A man of substance indeed. So when Tony Hibbert gives Salterns his MBE it is a rare honour for which I thank him with all my heart.
Not content with these achievements Tony Hibbert went on to found Salterns and them in 1981 to buy and then rescue Trebah Gardens. So what – just another garden I can almost hear the youngsters thinking? Well, no. Trebah is a 26 acre semi-tropical ravine garden running down to the Helford River. After a huge restoration project it is recognised as one of the 80 finest gardens in the world.
So Salterns is just one of Tony’s achievements in war and peace.
Salterns has done so much for so many young people. I am confident that it will continue to do so for many years to come. I thank all of you who have helped to make this so. And above all I thank you Tony.
On behalf of Salterns Sailing Club I am pleased to present this picture of Salterns to Tony as a small token of our thanks and esteem (cheering and applause).
4th September 2010