Wow!! What a day. Last Thursday was finally the day of the summer garden party at Bletchley Park.
I have been working with a fabulous team at Google organising the party for a couple of months and Thursday was finally the day we had been waiting for. We had all been checking the weather every day in the run up to the party, and rain had been predicted all day for several days, so we were glad that Bletchley Park had a big marquee. I got the train up there in the morning to attend the Bletchley Park Trust’s fundraising committee meeting. Looking out of the train window…it was grey, overcast and starting to rain. Oh dear.
But, by the time I arrived at the Park it was brightening up a bit and the view over the lake towards the marquee was as lovely as always.
After the fundraising meeting I had a chat with Claudia Baker from Google, the main event organiser, who deserves the highest praise, and Simon Greenish – Director of Bletchley Park. We then went over to the marquee to have a look at how things were progressing, yes it was still raining. Kevin Hollick from Benguela Events and his team were working away making the inside of the marquee look amazing.
I was getting hungry, so went over to Hut 4, for a great British lunch of sausage and mash. I checked the weather again when I was in the queue, it was now showing sun and rain for the afternoon at Bletchley, things were looking up weatherwise 🙂
Lynette Webb, another lovely Googler organising the party, and her husband Dave came over and we had a good chat about what we were looking forward to. The auction, the tours, the Pathe news films showing in Bletchley Park’s onsite cinema….there was so much going on. After lunch Lynette and Dave went off and I was joined by some great Bletchley Park social media stalwarts: @Filce, @MrPJEvans and @125f8. Fabulous guys who have supported Bletchley Park in so many ways over the last couple of years. We were also joined for a bit by @Leydon who was up at the National Museum of Computing for Young Rewired State 2011. After lunch we all walked over to the marquee to see how everything was progressing.
At 3pm the party started and people arrived in droves, it was absolutely amazing!
There were some great speeches at the beginning, from Peter Barron who has been absolutely instrumental in championing Bletchley Park at Google and from Jean Valentine who worked at Bletchley Park during WW2.
I have never seen so many people that I know in one place at once. I was overwhelmed with delight at seeing friends, colleagues and family from all parts of my life. Several of the people who came along I had known for some time online, but never met before in real life: @Jimjar, @mcfontaine, @GaryDayEllison, @alantshearer and Giles Sandeman Allen whose grandfather was Director of Bletchley Park during WW2. There were so many Bletchley Park supporters from Twitter, I should think at least one hundred, an amazing turnout. Here are links some great photographs from Paul Clarke, Ade Oshineye and Gordon Tant who are as well as being Bletchley Park supporters who are also fabulous photographers Paul Clarke’s pics
It is hard to pick a highlight of the party, because there were several, but one of them had to be introducing Simon Meacham, who had flown over from Mountain View especially to attend, to Gareth Halfacree. Gareth is the guy who started the campaign to buy the Turing papers for Bletchley Park, setting up a Justgiving page to collect donations from the public. Simon is the Googler who took up the mantle of helping Bletchley Park to purchase the Turing papers. Great guys 🙂
Another highlight was having a look at the Turing papers, which are now on display in B Block, with Simon. It brought back the memory of lots of exciting telephone calls over a few days, culminating in a very exciting call when Simon told me that the Google board had approved a donation of $100,000 for the purchase.
All in all it was an amazing day. Over ten thousand pounds was raised towards the refurbishment of C Block and four hundred people went home happy after a great day at Bletchley Park.
A massive thank you from me to everyone who came, and of course to Google who made it all possible.
If you would like to donate to help save renovate C Block at Bletchley Park please do so here.
Some interesting Audioboos from the day by @RadioKate
The Telegraph – Google backs Bletchley Park restoration project
The Telegraph – Google sends street view trike to Bletchley Park
Official Google blog – Restoring Bletchley Park, birthplace of modern computing
If you have a blog post or news item about the #Bparty please let me know so that I can add a link to it here.