THE New Year began with a bang when Jardine's Midnight Gun fired across Causeway Bay. Pulling the trigger by torchlight was Cynthia Rich, the wife of taipan Nigel Rich, managing director of the Jardine Matheson group. Mr Rich, 48, retires this year to England. The honour of firing the gun traditionally goes to the spouse of a retiring member of staff. Traditionally, eight bells are rung before midnight and another eight bells after midnight to the strains of Auld Lang Syne. Mrs Rich is a governor and executive committee member of the Keswick Foundation, and a member of the advisory committee of the Save the Children Fund and the fundraising committee of the Society for the Promotion of Hospice Care. She is also a patron of the Association of Electrical and Mechanical Volunteer Services. All the staff of Jardine's companies were invited to the event.