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   Mini-Reunion - Newmarket, Ontario on 5th April 2005

Mini-Reunion - Newmarket, Ontario on 5th April 2005 - Dorian Baxter's 55th birthday!!

Text supplied by Zahir Shamshudin Dharsee

Photos suuplied by Dave Allen

Image of Mini-Reunion - Newmarket, Ontario on 5th April 2005 - Dorian Baxter's 55th birthday!!

L-R: Dave Allen (Hawke 1960-65), Vic Baxter (Grigg 1965-69), Dorian Baxter(Grigg 1963-7) (aka Rev Elvis Priestly), Zahir Dharsee (Hawke 1969-74)

Honorable, Mister Beeg/Big, Wise old man, Rev Dorian Baxter, (aka Rev Elvis Priestley. - THE KING - today we are happy to celebrate your fifty fifth birthday – God bless you and your family.

A simple request from Judy Lauzon, Church Secretary for the Independent Anglican Church in Newmarket, Ontario to Zahir Shamshudin Dharsee, for a sign (see above and picture) to be posted in Swahili for Rev Dorian Baxter's (aka Elvis Priestley) 55th birthday celebration on Sunday April 5, 2005 resulted in an Old Cambrian mini-reunion taking place at the church service and luncheon afterwards.

While requesting the Swahili sign, Judy asked Zahir to extend an invitation to members of the Old Cambrian Society living in Ontario to the celebration. Zahir also forwarded the invitation to Dorian's brother Vic Baxter in Scotland who promptly accepted and booked a flight to Canada to attend the celebration. Judy asked that this celebration and guest invited be kept TOP SECRET.

Vic secretly flew from Aberdeen, Scotland to Toronto, Canada on Saturday April 4, 2005 and spent the night with the Dharsees. This gave Zahir and Vic the opportunity to meet in person and catch up after over 36 years!!! when Vic was the prefect in Zahir's 1969 Junior House dormitory. They had a wonderful evening reminiscing about their good old days at the school and life after school.

The next morning, Sunday April 5, Vic was welcomed to Canada in the typical Canadian fashion - an early spring snowstorm and a FOOT of snow in the Greater Toronto Area. Vic and Zahir drove for almost 2 hours in the snowstorm from Mississauga to the service and celebration in Newmarket, Ontario. Zahir's wife Nadia also braved the weather and drove to Newmarket separately. Other brave souls - Dave Allen and his wife, June (ex Kenya High - (Boma) )and their friend, Daphne Spindlow (ex Kenya High (Boma) braved the nasty weather conditions to drive to the service from Oakville, Ontario. Dave was dressed for the service in his Prince of Wales School 'Sunday best' - white shirt, grey flannels, Old Cambrian Society tie and blue blazer - (all that was missing was the School badge ...... Impala + "To the Uttermost" crest). Dorian, Dave and Zahir were part of the Old Cambrian group that last met at the Roger Whittaker (Scott 1949-1954) concert reunion in March 2004 and again in Guelph in July 2004.

Judy Lauzon received the surprise guests at the Canadian Legion Hall in Newmarket where the service was scheduled, and escorted them to an adjacent side room for undercover reasons. At approx 11.00 am, just a few moments before the commencement of the service, the guests were requested to take their seats in the second row and Vic sat a few seats behind with Dorian's daughter Rachel. Another surprise guest seated in the audience was Dorian's daughter Malaika who drove in from Kingston. There were 73 people at the service.

At 11.15 am, the Rev Dorian Baxter (aka Elvis Priestley, THE KING) in full priest attire, made his grand entrance into the hall to the organ music and stepped on the stage. By now the suspense element was at its peak and all in the congregation were holding their breath and anticipating his reaction to the presence of the surprise guests!! Within a few moments of commencing the service THE KINGS’ jaw DROPPED and his face and eyes reflected the SHOCK! - "I DO NOT BELIEVE THIS - I THINK I SEE MY BROTHER IN THE AUDIENCE" - and a moment later - "I SEE MY DAUGHTER MALAIKA - AM I, I AM, I MUST BE IN A DREAM??". THE KING WAS FLOORED!! ..... as we say here - HE WAS BLOWN AWAY, AND BOY WAS HE SURPRISED - he recovered very well and spontaneously - a few moments later he invited his brother Vic on stage, embraced him for a reality check and asked him to say a few words - at this point the members of the congregation broke into laughter and applause. He then continued with the service as planned but incorporated his Prince of Wales School boarding school days and the school motto - "To the Uttermost" into the service sermon - by this point the other guests had caught his attention and he realized that a special surprise had been planned for his 55th birthday celebration. It was an excellent service and the Rev Elvis Priestley did a short gig on Elvis the King's gospel singing - it was in very good spirit – towards the end Rev Dorian kindly acknowledged and invited the PoW guests, Dave and Zahir Dharsee and Vic, to join him on stage, and for the benefit of others in the congregation mentioned some good words about the PoW school days in Africa - especially the prefect-rabble role!! Dave Allen was one of the prefects he remembers!! The Rev also acknowledged the Swahili greeting on the back wall (see photo above).

Messages of birthday greetings and associated humor received from other Old Cambrians in Ontario, John Heppes (Hawke 1939-43) and his wife Peggy, and Ron Bullock (Scott 1948-1953) and his wife Chloë, were mentioned.

After the service the congregation enjoyed some birthday cake and coffee in the hall and were invited to a luncheon at the residence of Mr & Mrs John Fortune, Chair of the Board Directors of the congregation. At the luncheon all were treated to a wonderful assortment of various delicious dishes and desserts. Later there was an excellent slide show presentation produced by Judy's daughter, Lea, that covered pictures and a narrative of the Rev Dorian Baxter's life - his childhood and school days in Kenya, and then college and professional life in Canada. There were slides that included pictures of the school teams he was a member of at the Prince of Wales school.

Many yarns relating to Dorain's and Vic's days at the PoW school were told. One typical 1960's memorable boarding school prank was Vic's raid at the Baden Powell House at Kenya High (Boma) Girls school that led both of them being "called to the carpet" with the Housemaster "to account for the truth and nothing but the truth - so help you .....?" were mentioned - this time one of the girls from the Boma was there to confront him - June Allen!! Another yarn related to the time when some boys from the PoW stole the school bell from the Boma - it was fun reminiscing about those days!!

It was an exciting, eventful and enjoyable day for all present --- of course, the most SURPRISED was Rev Dorian Baxter (aka Rev Elvis Priestley - THE KING) himself.

Thank you/asante sana to Judy Lauzon for initiating the request for a Swahili translation that led to the mini-reunion taking place. Thank you to members of the congregation for the wonderful welcome and hospitality they extended to the Rev Dorian Baxter's fellow Old Cambrian mates and their spouses and friends.

Asante sana - thank you again - Mungu I barikiwe watu wote - God bless all people.

Image of Mini-Reunion - Newmarket, Ontario on 5th April 2005 - Dorian Baxter's 55th birthday!!

More photos will be published shortly