10 November 2011 by Graham Ellicott,

Yesterday the FIA held its 2011 AGM and Lunch in central London, at 8 Northumberland Avenue, and from my point of view I’d have say that the event was a huge triumph but I would, wouldn’t I!

Held in a Ballroom that Craig Revel Horwood would have described as Fab - u - LOUS the event was deemed by attendees as strictly a success thus vindicating my earlier comment.

The FIA team had to work especially hard this year to compensate for the absence of our Chairman, Martin Harvey,who was laid low by a high fever. How do you replace the man who has charisma, good looks, talent and witty repartee? You don’t. But you compensate in other ways and in part that meant me giving it my best shot but without the C, GL, T & WR…

Martin instigated interviews as part of the AGM format several years ago and from the sidelines they always look easy, that is of course until you have to carry them out yourself.

In preparation for this process I sought out the first interviewee that passed by and discussed the way that we might ‘discuss’ the events of the preceding year to the benefit of the audience. The only succinct reply was that anything Paxmanesque from me could see me spending the rest of the day in A&E!

In the end the interviews all went pretty well until one of the interviewees changed the script which threw me completely, although I have to say, in retrospect this was for the better. Martin - please don’t be missing next year as your C, GL, T & WR are required!

The AGM ran to time and the following drinks reception, lunch was served to nearly 400 people; the logistics of this always fascinates me. The plated service was overseen by a woman that inspired respect and efficiency from her team and this was evidenced by a faultless dress rehearsal followed by, if it’s possible, a more seamless rendition of the real thing.  Oh, and the food was excellent as well!

This year the FIA presented the award of Honorary Membership to Bob Whiteley and I have to say that this was really deserved. Since joining the FIA in 2007, I have found Bob to be one of the most helpful, friendly and knowledgeable people who is universally liked and respected by his peers, including those that compete with his company on a day-to-day basis.

The after lunch speaker was the sports presenter, Rob Bonnett, who regaled us all with some interesting insights into the psyche of sportsmen and who answered a number of interesting/difficult questions from the audience.

The lunch wrapped up around 4pm and the audience left the room to the music of the fire industry’s very own band - with the interesting name of ‘Battered Sausage’. I’m always intrigued to see the effect of music on people and ‘Battered Sausage’ certainly had the crowd moving in step to their music, indeed, Strictly Come Dancing’s, Sir Bruce, would have said of them ‘Didn’t they do well’…