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Lou Shorten Tribute weekend, 30 Sept/1 Oct

The Magnette Register Season Finale event was started by John & Lou Shorten before anyone can remember and the same format has been maintained ever since. On Saturday a social meeting at their home in Lenwade during the day followed by a barbeque or fish & chip supper.

The supper has now become an informal dinner at a nearby hotel, a more convenient arrangement for those who have to travel beyond commuting distance. The Sunday would be a meeting at the Norfolk Police Gala, a family show featuring classic cars and held at the Norwich Showground in Costessy. Budget cuts and rising costs resulted in the cancellation of this event and consequently the Register now visits one of the many Norfolk attractions. This year Sandringham House was the chosen venue.

This year following tradition, we met at John's house in Lenwade where he had erected a large marquee in his garden. Tea & coffee plus a selection of sandwiches and cakes were available overseen by Lou's daughter Jenny and her husband Ed, a superb family association. During the afternoon a raffle was held with prizes donated by John. Most people went away with a prize and at John's request the money raised was donated to register funds. Also during the afternoon john Shorten & Tim Perkins judged the cars for the concours trophy. After their deliberations a 're-judge' was required and following another nit-picking session the winner was decided but not announced until the prize-giving in the evening.

About 4.30 pm the attendees started to depart, some with a long drive ahead, but most to prepare for the annual dinner and prize-giving at the Wensum Valley Gold Club Hotel. Whilst devouring the excellent 3 course meal we were kept quiet solving the fiendish car based quiz provided by Alan & Julia Cleobury. The noise level rose when a vociferous minority disagreed with the quiz master but his decision was final and the prize was presented to two new members from Blackpool, Duncan & Joanne Hayhurst. Welcome to the Register and good luck with your restoration.
In a quiet conference room the trophies were presented by our chairman Paul Batho who made a brief speech before presenting Alan & Julie Cleobury with the 'Magnetteer of the Year' trophy for non-committee members who have contributed most to the register. The largest cup, the NTG Concours Trophy was awarded to Alan Slack who obviously enjoys polishing. A new competition for this year was for the furthest travelled 'as the crow flies'. The winners were Duncan & Joanne Hayhurst from Blackpool who just edged out Alan & Linda Slack from Portsmouth.

Sunday October 1st dawned grey and damp but the weather improved by midday. The Sandringham Estate had asked for a copy of the Register logo which they used to waymark the route to our display parking area in front of the visitor centre. Needless to say the cars attracted a lot of attention from the public and acted as a focal point for local MGCC members who we were pleased to welcome into our midst. New owners Nigel & Sue Haines brought along their Magnette while Mark III Farina owners Paul & Janet Bloomfield came in an MG3.

Several members walked to view the mediaeval church which is famous for its highly decorated interior which contains a magnificent silver altar & pulpit. Unfortunately it did not open until later in the day. Receiving our tickets for the gardens and museum, we all walked to our destination shunning the free buggy ride, and were rewarded with an impressive view of Sandringham House which was built in 1870 and has been passed down as a private home through 4 generations of British monarchs. The gardens, despite the time of year, still looked colourful and tidy.

On arrival at the 'Old Stable Block' we were greeted by the sight of the first royal car, a 1900 Daimler Phaeton and the estate's now retired Merryweather Fire Engine. A collection of pedal cars and electric cars owned by royal children was given a critical examination, which they all passed. There followed a collection of royal cars down the ages including a metro cab taxi in royal livery and estate vehicles used for shooting and fishing parties. The prime subject to be viewed was a dark blue Abingdon product, Prince Charles' MGC. It had been well polished to remove any grubby fingermarks which may have been acquired during its holiday at Chateau Impney.

Finally, a quick top up of tea and cakes in The Stables Tea Rooms before returning home and looking forward to Magnettes & Steam and wondering where we shall meet again next year.

Text and photos by John & Cynthia Harris

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