The Veterans Squash Rackets Club of Great Britain

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When the time came to decide where we would like to hold our 50th Anniversary Dinner it was unanimously agreed to ask if we could use the same venue as for our 40th, namely the Royal Automobile Club at Woodcote Park. Sir Michael Edwardes very kindly gave permission for his name to be used to make the booking and it was arranged for Friday, November 22nd 2013. At that time it seemed a very long way ahead! We hoped the event would attract about one hundred and twenty members and guests and were delighted when the total reached one hundred and twenty-one.

The evening got under way with drinks and canapés in the upstairs Derby/Oaks Room, which put us all in a relaxed and chatty mood - it's always lovely to meet up with friends we haven't seen for some time. We then moved down to the delightful Cedar Room where the 11 tables were beautifully laid and decorated with candelabra and 50th Anniversary balloons and everything looked very inviting. Grace was said by our Hon Sec., Nigel Belle - as you can imagine, not the quick 'For what we are about to receive' gabble! - and the meal began.

After a superb starter and main course the plates were cleared, the lights went off and we were treated to an exciting display by 'Double Tap' - eight drummers with costumes, drums and sticks picked out in fluorescent paint - as they marched, counter-marched and twirled their sticks for a good ten minutes. They were given a standing ovation.

Dessert, cheese and coffee followed and the Loyal Toast was proposed by our President, Philip Ayton, who then introduced the Guest of Honour.

We were delighted to have with us as Guest of Honour Lieutenant General David Leakey CMG, CBE who is a Club member and holds the position of Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod. He is often seen on TV in ceremonial dress on State occasions in the House of Lords and he gave us a fascinating insight into his 'day job'. This was a very entertaining and amusing talk and was greatly appreciated by everyone. In conclusion he proposed the health of the Veterans' Squash Club of Great Britain.

This was replied to by our Chairman, John Woodliffe. He thanked David and welcomed our other guests - Felicity Burrell, Sheila Macintosh, Margaret Baker-Hunt and Raoul Berman. At this point Mike Perkins said a few words about Raoul's late father, Toddy, who for many years was a well-known and loved Club member. John then went on to thank the Anniversary Committee for their work in the publication of the Book, the organisation of the Festival of Squash - which he hoped might become an annual affair - and the arrangements for the Dinner. He made special mention of Nigel Belle for his outstanding master-minding of the Book, and of Neil Kinder, who had found time in a very busy schedule to design and print menu cards, invitations and table lists for the evening.

He also thanked the Club Committee for the time they put into the running of the Club, the Match Managers who arrange 'friendlies' with many other clubs during the season and those who organise tours, both abroad and within the UK. The support of all who attended the Dinner was acknowledged as was that of the membership - the lifeblood of the Club. Membership now stands at just over 500 and John urged members to recruit like-minded players to join. We would love to raise our membership to 600, which is very achievable.

After dinner, with everyone feeling nice and relaxed, the good Howard Cherlin acted as our Auctioneer in the sale of many interesting items, including framed prints of the original cartoons which appear in the Anniversary Book.

It was a successful evening and the positive feed-back which we have received is much appreciated. Bookings for the 55th, anyone?