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May's Trip Down Memory Lane: Pat French

After the interest shown in last month’s interview with Diane and Alan Coulstock, we’ve been approaching some other members to tap their memory banks. This week, we spoke to Pat French, who many of you will know from her 28 years with BA and BA Clubs.

It is remarkable for a company as large as BA, how many people know each other. Our interview with Pat started with the revelation that she was once Alan Coulstock’s secretary! 

Like many, Pat  comes from a BA family – her father served 27 years with the airline, her brother worked for BOAC, and Phil, her husband of 45 years also served for 19 years.

After a pre-children spell with BEA, Pat was hired in 1989 by Chris Adams (brother of long-time Executive member Keith Adams) as his secretary working in Revenue Accounts. Pat tells us the main attraction of the job was that it was based in Ruislip (at the Odyssey Business Park) which was where she lived and it fitted well with her childcare needs. 

Like many other BA employees, Pat held a number of different secretarial positions within Finance until 2003 when she was hired by Roger Ellis, then the Chief Executive of BA Clubs, initially as a six month secondment which lasted for fifteen years.

Of her time with the airline, Pat has many happy memories including the demanding task of being a passenger along with a number of other secretarial staff on one of the Tri-Star’s proving flights to Madrid and back. She also remembers being on the roof of the Queen’s Building to witness the first Concorde flight, later having the opportunity to fly on Concorde as a courier to New York and back in one day.

In her time with BA Clubs, Pat quickly became one of the best-informed members of staff as she was the minute-taker for all the Management Meetings. Many of you will recall the organisational structure which had dedicated committees for Finance, Sports & Leisure, House, Entertainments and Bar & Catering, as well of course the monthly Executive Meeting which brought all these strands together.

Of course there have been many changes since then, not least of all with premises; apart from the Concorde Club, Pat remembers dealing with the Hatton Cross Club and the Wingspan Club at Gatwick. 

Pat was a keen member of the Ten Pin Bowling section that used to meet regularly at Heathrow Bowl. There can’t be many Bowling Clubs whose fixture list included away matches in overseas destinations like Belgium, Dublin and Dubai – one of the perks of being a BA Clubs member!

And it didn’t stop there as additional travel was required for Pat to discharge her duties as the BA representative on ASCA (Airline Sports and Cultural Association) which has seen many inter-airline events organised over the years, with strong representation from BA Clubs sections.

The social life at the Concorde Club was for many years a strong and important feature. Pat has fond memories of the “big” events each year: Annual Fireworks Display, Heathrow Classic Car Show and the Family Day (does anybody else remember the year the giant Jumbo Jet inflatable slide deflated, rather rapidly?) as well as the many Entertainments events, the Beer Festival and the Sunday Carvery. 

Pat was one of the designated drivers for the BA Clubs minibus and recalls an unfortunate incident when she and Lee Evans went to deliver the famous BA Clubs Toblerone calendars to locations around Heathrow – forgetting how high the minibus was, it hit the height restrictor on the approach to T5 car park resulting in an embarrassing reverse back down by the security staff stopping all traffic that had built up behind!

As with many other BA folk, even after Pat stopped working “officially”, she is still actively involved in BA life as a volunteer with the Retired Staff Association, so her path still crosses many former staff. 

If you have any memories or anecdotes to share, we’d love to hear from you…