On Monday evening this week BHBPA members and friends met at Ockenden Manor for the monthly networking event. The management of this lovely country hotel have kindly hosted an event for us for many years now, and their hospitality was as generous as ever. The Events Manager, Anouskja, spoke briefly to welcome guests and to introduce the benefits of the hotel to those who weren’t aware.
It was great to see a number of new faces among the 40 or so who came along, and of course there were lots of business regulars who can be relied upon to support the BHBPA.
The first presentation was by Franco Petrazzuolo, who is the Technical Services Manager at CAE, one of the largest businesses on the business parks of the town and indeed a very large international company. CAE employs thousands of staff and has a presence in countries world wide. There are very few places in this country which have simulators for pilot training, and CAE is the largest among these, having on site in Burgess Hill fourteen simulators. This number may increase in the future depending upon demand. Every day hundreds of pilots come through the facility here as they complete their six-monthly training programme.
Franco took us through his part in the work at the company and outlined the sort of training which pilots have to undertake in order to keep up with all new developments in this specialist field. Afterwards he fielded lots of questions about the company, about his job and in particular about pilots and their training, an area of obvious interest for all those of us who occasionally fly but have little real knowledge of the technical aspects involved in flying an aircraft. It really was a fascinating presentation.
By way of a contrast, Carolyn Robinson then gave us an insight into the service offered by St Peter & St James Hospice, with which we as an Association have been linked for some years. She went through the sort of care offered by the hospice and the incredible costs involved in offering such an important service. SPSJ serves the community of Mid Sussex, taking in the towns of Burgess Hill, Lewes, Uckfield and Haywards Heath, as well as surrounding villages. Caring for those in their last days is what they specialise in doing, and we know that they do a fantastic job of it. Hospice care is free to patients, and so the hospice needs to constantly raise money to provide this care, as just 17% of funding is provided by government. We have been proud to help in this respect, and indeed we shall do so again soon by raising money at the forthcoming Quiz Night. As they face the prospect of raising £2.6m each year (or £7200 per day!) I think it’s the least we can do to help.
The refreshments were, as always, delicious, the networking after presentations was loud and very sociable, and I think it could be said that a good time was had by all. Of course we must thank Ockenden Manor for the splendid hospitality, the speakers for their time and courage and the members who came along for their support.