December 23rd 2014: Big Lil's 50th Birthday
Seven Men and a Moose

Duncan Johnson, Mich, Keith Skues, Ed Stewart, Pete Brady, David Hawkins, Ian Damon & Cousin Moosie
commemorate an important day 50 years ago.

A month or two back, a small group of friends decided that December 23rd 2014 was an occasion that really had to be celebrated, even if it was just a half-dozen of us meeting to raise a glass to Big Lil on her actual birthday. That was all we thought it would be. Given that the date was so close to Christmas, we felt it unlikely that any of the Radio London personnel would be able to join us, but Mary decided it was worth telling them about our small gathering, if only so that they could raise a glass to Lil on the day and know that others were doing the same. To her surprise, a number of the guys said they would join us and suddenly, a small event had turned into a slightly larger celebration, worthy of a special cake.

On December 23rd, we were delighted to welcome Pete Brady, David Hawkins, Keith Skues, Mich, Ed Stewart, Ian Damon and especially Duncan Johnson. Duncan was determined not to miss the 50th Anniversary and we have to thank his good friends Mich and Stewpot for getting him there and everyone present who was able to assist in Duncan in getting aboard the floating pub Tattershall Castle. Lil's 50th naturally had to be celebrated afloat, even if it was not on the North Sea. (The turnout would probably have been considerably lower if it had.)

It proved to be a very successful day.

Duncan and David
Mr Skues and Mr Brady
Stewpot's teeshirt confirms that he's aging to perfection. Behind them, Mich's wife Jeanne and Roving Kneeporter Keith Milborrow
Ray Reynolds shows his famous scrapbook to David Hawkins, Mike Barraclough and Alan Hardy
Fab Forty compiler Fab Alan Field and Jon Myer
of the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame
There's always a lot of interest in Ray's scrapbook
(They do look a bit like carol singers...)

Attentive audience: Chris read out a letter that had been sent by Ben Toney shortly before he was taken ill.
There were greetings from others who had been unable to attend

Ben's letter

Hi Gang,
Sorry to break into your drinking time, but I would like to let you know that I am alive and still kicking....slowly. First, I would like to recognise our departed friends.

Don Pierson was most important in pulling the Radio London organisation together. He was at times difficult to deal with, but had it not been for his persistence, the whole thing would have gone down the tube. Rest in peace Don.

This past September we lost our dear friend Tom Danaher. Tom to me was one of the most decent persons I have ever known. So long, Tom.

And how proud can we all be of our Kenny Everett? He will always be remembered as one of Britain's great deejays and performers on the telly. You were the best Kenny.

Others who have passed on were my dear wife Rona who was my secretary. Also Paul Kaye, Tony Windsor ("Hullo"), Chuck Blair, Earl Richmond, Dave Dennis and John Peel.

I would like to give a shout-out to my friends Dave Cash, Mark Roman, John Edward, Pete Brady, Mike Lennox, and Ed Stewart.

And Duncan Johnson, we are all praying for the day when someone comes up with a cure for Parkinson's. Stay safe, my friend.

I never knew most of the later deejays who came on board after I left Radio London. I knew Keith Skues and Tony Blackburn when they were on Radio Caroline. Perhaps you could make mention of them?

Mary and Chris were happy to oblige:

Chuck Blair, Tony Brandon, Ian Damon, Pete Drummond, Graham Gill, Bill Hearne, Lorne King, Tommy Vance, John Sedd, Norm St John, Willy Walker, John Yorke. One or two names have been missed. You will all know the reason why.)

Back to Ben:

We cannot leave out the names of Dave Hermione Hawkins and Russ Tollerfield, the late Mike Howell, Martin Newton and Ian West. Philip Birch, Alan Keen, Gordon Shepherd, Geoffrey Pearson, Richard Swainson, Captain Bill Buninga, Mike Stone, Mike Quinn and everyone who worked in the Curzon Street offices. Pancake John and all the other catering staff aboard the Galaxy.

Need I mention the fact that we all love our friend Michel. Mich, we made that long and dangerous trip across the Atlantic on the Galaxy and we are still here to tell about it. All the best Mich.

Before I sign off, I want to thank our best friend Mary for all she has done to keep us alive in the hearts and minds the British people for all these years. If your glass is empty, fill it up and let's make a toast to our Mary. Do I hear a Hip Hip Hooray?

Thank you my friends. Enjoy your party.

Ben Toney

(Webmaster's note: Ben's daughter Raquel had been hoping to join us, but she and her family had departed for Texas to visit Ben in hospital, where thankfully, he seems to be making good progress.)


Geoff Pearson

We hope you have a good get together. I have saved a special single malt to toast the station and old friends on the day.

We are off to New Zealand for our annual sun fest in the New Year. We get tired of sitting at home wearing several jumpers looking like the Michelin man, so to get a good second summer is highly recommended for older folk.

Best wishes for a very happy Christmas and healthy and successful new year.

Geoff & Denise Pearson


Willy Walker

Wish all at the RL get together. My regards and look forward to news of the event and old friends there.
All the Best, Willy


Chris Peers

Mary we have not met however I had a lot to do with Big L in its formative years and I gave Kenny Everett his first Radio break by hiring him for £15 a week. Please will you give a message to those present that I wish them all the best - I am still alive, however have been hospitalised in the last year, hence my non-appearance.
I live in Henley on Thames and am in touch with the likes of Dave Cash etc.

You all have a good one, Chris


Martin van der Ven, the Offshore Radio Guide
Good luck with the meeting on 23rd December! Please present our sincere compliments to all attending.

Best wishes, Martin and Ulrike

The pirates are joined by Mary, Chris and Mich's wife Jeanne (Photo: Peter Herring)

We asked Pete Brady, the first DJ to present a programme on December 23rd 1964, to cut the birthday cake. It was felt that, as the Galaxy's long-serving steward, Mich should assist.

Sabrina and her staff on the Tattershall Castle were extremely accommodating and we should like to thank them very much for being so welcoming to a bunch of pirates (and a small moose) and for giving us great service. The vessel is off for refurbishment in the New Year and should be returning to the Thames in a few months. Bon Voyage!

Another December 23rd photo collection is on the Pirate Radio Hall of Fame

All photos © Chris and Mary Payne @ Radio London, unless otherwise stated