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Ship's Company

A Royal Reunion Of Retired Cunarders

November 25, 2009

We Are Cunard

Posted in: Ship's Company

Now it’s a great pleasure to introduce a special Guest Blogger. I’m sure many of you remember Maureen’s last Guest Blog when she talked about her days on Cunard ships (4 September 2009). I am pleased to say she’s been kind enough to write again and this time on a recent reunion. I’ll let Maureen pick up the story:


Guest Blog – Maureen Ryan – Retired Social Hostess


Over the first weekend of October a group gathered, some travelling from across the globe, in the beautiful New Forest at the Crown Hotel in Lyndhurst. They meet each year, coming together for a couple of days to keep in touch and to reminisce about the years, many decades ago, when they lived closely together for months at a time, working as Pursers for Cunard.


I hadn’t been to a meeting for a few years, but walking into the bar before dinner on the Saturday evening, I instantly recognised so many people; it was like stepping back into another age as we picked up where we’d left off, many moons ago!


After dinner several tables were chatting away with familiar conversations of; “what happened to so-and-so, do you remember when he”. It was so good to exchange news, and remember so many distinctive characters that one never forgets. Catching up in the bar with so many wonderful memories, kept us all up until the early hours; it really was like the old days!


In this photo are John and Cindy Rabley, I last saw them on the Maiden Voyage of Queen Mary 2.



John Firth, who organised the meeting, is in the centre and he spent 25 years in Australia. He now lives in the UK, but is returning to Australia soon for four months, and will be contacting several ex-Pursers staff like Pat Fison, Ted Finch, Ken Penfold and David Thomas. Next to John is Peter Quinn.


In this Mike Constant is on the left with John Butt between the two ladies, Winifred (Freddie) Bosworth (Hearn) and Hermione Dormer (Pantling) on his left



Mike sailed on QE2 as a Senior Purser, and retired in 1999. John Butt, who helped to organise the meeting with John, also sailed on QE2 as Entertainment Director until he retired.  Hermione Dormer (Pantling) is on the right. Her husband, Harry, was a Deck Officer with Cunard for some years. I must thank Hermione for supplying some of the photos for this account of the reunion.



In my first blog (on 4 September), there was a photo of 6 Lady Assistant Pursers, which was an advert for the Stenography Service offered to passengers on the two Queens. Well here we are again, well three of us anyway; myself, Jane Lucas (Leat) and Jill Jones (Williams) and Hermione (on the left) who was a Lady Assistant Purser, and we sailed together on the Queen Elizabeth.


This is a picture of Margaret Newcombe and Eddie Peregine.



Margaret’s first ship with Cunard was the Aquitania; she was also the Hostess par excellence on Queen Mary. In 1968 we joined QE2 together for the Maiden Voyage, and Margaret was the Senior Social Directress on the ship for some time.


This photo features Muriel Arnold, now a successful author, having published several books, including ‘Tiaras and T-Shirts’, a behind the scenes view of life on the great passenger liners.  Jane Lucas (Leat) is in the centre and on the right is Frances Milroy, who had a long career with Cunard and became the first female Hotel Manager. Harry Dormer is in the background.



Among the many others attending were Bill Loughnane, Ian Sumpner, George Read, Richard Ahl, Pam Webb, Jeff and Barbara Baggot (Sennitt), Dennis Randall, Marjorie Sharpe (Cassell), Rosalie McPherson (Fowler), Hew Dunn, Julia Lee (Barratt), Ted Finch, John Sargeant, David Ellison and John Palmer.


The following day we dispersed, back to our present-day lives. We’re scattered all over the world, but will always share in common the memories and experience of being part of the Pursers staff on the great Cunard ships. So, until next year………


Thank you Maureen for that great story; maybe in 20 years some of us from Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria will have a reunion and talk about today being the old days! We’ll have to wait and see.


I’ll be back soon with more news of what’s happening now on our two Queens and of course more from the shipyard in Italy and our newest Queen. Cheers for now, Alastair


  1. Christian Reay says:

    Maureen really should write a book about her experiences aboard the great Cunarders of the past and the early years of QE2 in the late 60′s early 70′s.

    It would be so wonderful to read first hand accounts about life aboard Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth as they represented the first ‘Golden Age’ of luxury travel by sea.

    As always, an enthralling blog.

    All the best!

  2. Dudley White says:

    Have just come across the website – brought back lots of memories, and great to see some familiar faces from my time in Cunard Pursers’ Dept. (’56 – ’63). Would be good to hear from anybody who remembers me and hope to join you if possible at next year’s reunion. Dudley White

  3. Irene Murrell (nee Woodman) says:

    Have just come across your blog, and thoroughly enjoyed seeing faces which I recognized from the past – Margaret Newcombe, Jane Lucas (Leat), Muriel Arnold amongst them. I also recognized so many of the names such as Pat Fison who I think was the first person to call me ‘Haggis’ ! I’d be really happy to hear from any ex-Cunarders with whom I sailed in the 1960s who may remember me – the memories of these days will never lose their charm and I am sorry that as life went on I did not keep in touch with so many colleagues from these happy days.

  4. Don Iliffe says:

    Does anyone recall an Alfred Powell Cain, he was on the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mary. I have a portrait of him drawn by the QM’ s massuer dated 1932. I know he was on them during the war doing troop transport for US forces to The UK for D.Day.
    He was on a number of other ships but I no longer have his seamanship log book.
    He died of cancer in 1975. I still have a number of photographs of him, with Film stars taken on board. It would be interesting to talk to someone who knew him during that time

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