Last Sunday, July 3, the Pattaya City Expats Club celebrated its 15th anniversary with gifts for members, an anniversary cake, and some reminiscing about what it has been like to live in Pattaya over the years. Although March 2001 was its actual 15th anniversary, the festivities were deferred till the Annual General Meeting (AGM) which is held on the first Sunday in July. But before the meeting began, two short videos were presented in honour of Canada (July 1- Canada Day) and the USA (July 4 – Independence Day).
First up was the AGM. After the Treasurer’s annual financial report, Chairman Roy Albiston provided his report to the membership with emphasis placed on what has transpired with the Club and world in the past 15 years. After his report, Roy announced that all four incumbents on the Governing Board would serve another two years as there were no others placed in nomination. The AGM was closed and the anniversary festivities began.
The reminiscing was led by the club’s guest, Paul Strachan of the Pattaya Mail group. He got a lot of help from several other members of the club who talked for a few minutes each about their memories and their experiences. Paul started by asking the audience how long they have lived in Pattaya. Most have been here from 10 to 20 years; although there were some here longer than 20 years, no one could beat member Paul Beck who has lived in Pattaya for 49 years!
First up was Richard Smith, long time member and former Chairman of the PCEC Board (he is currently Vice-Chairman). He said that the PCEC has offered people wonderful opportunities to socialize. Richard told the story of one man who attended several meetings of the computer special interest group. He carried and used a heavy air tank and oxygen mask with him at every meeting, and did not look well. He said we always wondered if he would be able to show up for the next meeting. Three years later, while attending a regular PCEC Meeting that featured a medical discussion the man said, “This club saved my life. When I attended the computer group meeting, it was the first time I wasn’t ostracized for the way I looked.”
Next up was long time Expat Paul Beck, who reminisced about some of the people he had met over the years including some that might be thought of as real characters. Following Paul was Richard Silverberg (a former board member). Richard said he first attended a PCEC meeting in November 2003. Further, that he felt the biggest benefit of the club is that it provides the opportunity to meet other people. Richard listed several other benefits – organized tours to places like Ayutthaya, a Thai aircraft carrier and the General Motors Chevrolet plant; information that Thai officials provided when they came as speakers; the traditional Songkran ceremonies that the club did on occasion; and the information provided on medical topics by doctors from area hospitals.
Following Richard was Gavin Waddell. He said that one of the strangest benefits he has received as a PCEC member happened when he was pulled over once on the highway for speeding. He had left his international driving permit and driver’s licence at home in Scotland. In desperation, he pulled out his PCEC membership card which included his photo and managed to convince the policemen, who didn’t speak English, that it was a driver’s licence. Gavin added that when he arrived in Thailand in 1998 he first stayed at the Amari Garden Hotel and had his first beer at the Amari’s Henry J. Beans Bar & Grill; only to return later for his first PCEC meeting (it was later renamed The Tavern by the Sea, where the PCEC continues to meet).
Then it was Pat Koester’s turn. She said that when she first attended a PCEC meeting, it looked like an “all-boys club” to her, so she didn’t plan to come back. However, she was drawn back by a special interest group that was created to sponsor a village in Isan as part of a program of the Population and Community Development Association founded by Senator Meechai Viravaidya. Pat became more involved in the club and made a successful effort to get more women involved, particularly when she previously served as Board Chairman (the PCEC currently has three women including Pat on its eleven-member Governing Board).
Last, but not least, was Tony Heron and Albert Koster. Tony said that it took just one three-week holiday in Pattaya 15 years ago to convince him to retire here. Tony spoke of Bob Sutterfield, who most people knew as Hawaii Bob, as being the epitome of “expats helping expats” because of all of the work he did for the club. It was a great loss to the club when Bob passed away in August 2015. Albert then related some of his past embarrassing moments, which we shall not repeat as we do not wish to embarrass him further.
After the reminiscing, it was time to cut and share the cake.
For more information on the PCEC’s many activities, visit their website at www.pcecclub.org.