BLENHEIM PALACE, 1 NOVEMBER 1997


Our Master of Ceremonies, RSM Raymond P.Huggins
Mr. Raymond P. Huggins, MBE, MSM, CdeR, was our Master of Ceremonies at the World Premiere Benefit Performance and Banquet.  Mr. Huggins, well known in British military circles, joined the Grenadier Guards in 1945 at the age of 17.  He saw duty in Germany, the Middle East, North and West Africa and South America.  In 1965, he was promoted RSM (Regimental Sergeant Major) and in 1970, appointed Academy Sgt. Major at Sandhurst (Senior RSM post in the British Army), where he served until his retirement from active duty in 1980.  During his career, in recognition of his service, he was appointed a MBE in 1973 (Member of the Order of the British Empire), received the MSM in 1974 (Meritorious Service Medal), was awarded the CdeR by the French Army in 1976 (Cross of Recognition).  He represented his regiment in Rugby (1946 to 1965); swimming and water polo, sword fencing and was Regimental Light Heavyweight Boxing Champion in 1950, all of which put me in mind of Sir Ellery, the hero in Grumpuss.
“Sir Ellery was a fine athlete.He excelled in every sport
King's Champion was he, three times out of three,
The most formidable knight in the court.”
At the conclusion of Mr. Huggins' military career, he and his wife, Sheila (ex WRNS) moved to apartments in Blenheim Palace where he served as Deputy Administrator and she served as the Blenheim Gardens Secretary until they both retired in 1993.  At the banquet, it was Mr. Huggins who coached me on the proper form and then, in that clear and steady voice once reserved for officer cadets at Britain's famed military academy, bid my guests rise for the British National Anthem and the toast to the Queen and to remain upstanding for the American National Anthem and a toast to the United States of America.  British and American alike, we softly sang the anthems, but as that All Saints' Day came to a close, the familiar words took on fresh meaning and I felt an eerie, but comfortable connection with the legions gone before. 

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