Adrian explains how he’s affectionately known as the ‘Mayor’ of Upnor.
“I was still serving in the Royal Engineers at the time we moved down, and when you’re the senior NCO, the warrant officer, you’re part of the sargeant’s mess and you do what’s called the PMT, which is dealing with all the entertainment. You learn how to organise things like games nights and mess rugby nights, for example, and I just transferred that skill into the village and began organising bingo and race nights and so on.
“I became chairman of the residents association and it just grew from there really. We had quiz nights at the Arethusa Centre, so they would benefit from a donation too. All the events included a raffle and raised money for charities: The Kent Air Ambulance, Demelza House and the RNLI mainly. Most events are held in The Ship, it was beneficial for them because the place would fill up. And good value too, £10 would get you entry, plus your meal.”
Wife Yve supports the fundraising efforts and has embedded herself in the local community, playing for The Ship’s ladies darts team. She’s also a member of a local Bat and Trap Club, an ancient traditional game in Kent that may have been an early version of cricket. This is when she’s not walking three dogs, including Roxie (below), Adrian’s 5 year old Alsation/Collie cross, 12 year old Molly and 3 year old cockerpoo, Jet!
The biggest event the Dixon’s and their community have organised was for Help for Heroes, when over £10,000 was raised in three days last year.
For a rainy bank holiday weekend in August, it was an amazing figure to end up with. The main event – a family fun day which alone raised over £7,000 – saw The Ship transformed with bunting and banners.
A mechanical digger was put to good use as part of a giant skittle games, while a variety of stalls – including cakes, tombola, fish and books – kept dry under generously lent military tents. The ubiquitous bar and barbecue proved very popular, with the atmosphere ramped up by live music. The local Territorial Army also did a display, another section of the armed services determined to support in force. There were even hardy souls who braved the weather to take part in the Ice bucket challenge! And June, the pub landlady at the time laid on all the food to be sold, and then fed all the committee and helpers with their own barbecue at the end of the day.
Adrian was full of praise for the community who generously donated time and resources, and 14 fantastic raffle prizes. “We had fourteen exceptional prizes: A trip to Ireland for 2, including ferry, which was put up by Kevin Lock, the former world coarse fishing champion who now organises the championships. He runs a small travel agency so he was able to sort that out. Andy Brimson donated a 42 inch flat screen TV and pair of wireless Dr. Beat earphones, while local businesses put up meals, hairdos, a trip to Canterbury Cathedral and more. We actually printed Golden Tickets for the three top prizes, and charged £5 for each one and they flew; we had to print more!
“Before the main event, we auctioned two tee-shirts from Headley Court, where injured servicemen go to be fitted with and learn how to use their prosthetic limbs. Embossed with their emblem and signed by twenty injured soldiers, the pair raised £600 between them!
“It was a terrific turnout, and you wonder, had it been sunny, how much more we could have raised. These guys all help (Adrian indicated some of his fellow drinkers) we’re all ex-military you see – and we wanted to beat the civvy guys who did an event last year! We were lucky we had a lot of resources to call upon.”
The fun day committee includes comrades from military days: (L-R Tony Ashton, Colin Caplehorne, Mick Scholes, Adrian and Paul Roberts.
Adrian continued: “It’s borne out of camaraderie that comes from years and years of working and socialising together: Once a Engineer, always an Engineer! Anyone talks about ‘The Corps’ they’re talking about the Royal Engineers.”
A colleague of Adrian’s, Alistair Brownrigg, has his own way of creating a poignant keepsake, from the Tower of London poppies project. He frames the individual poppy and the story behind it.