I hope everyone who attended our final dinner of the calendar year enjoyed it as much as I did.
In Brooke Combe, I think we all got to enjoy a future star performer and, in years to come, I am sure we will all remember where we first saw her play. I would like to thank Vanessa Bakewell and the Meta team for again making it possible for us to enjoy such a musical talent. As for Gareth Thomas, his passion and authenticity leave me in awe: it takes such bravery and generosity to open up like that to an audience such as ours. What a great human being.
I have to say that this was the dinner I was most nervous about getting right. It was not just our last event for this season, but also Clare Russell’s final dinner after eighteen years’ service with the club.
If our theme for the evening was all about authenticity, we should recognise that Clare has always looked after us in the most authentic way, helping members to feel comfortable and bring their true selves to our Club. Someone once told me that you only ever have the best people on loan, but at least eighteen years feels like a pretty generous term. I want to thank Phil Smith and Dame Cilla Snowball for their warm and wonderful votes of thanks, and Clare for her equally gracious response.
From next year we will be in the very capable hands of Liv Leigh and Charlotte Whitaker who will share Clare’s role. Liv will work front of house on the dinner evenings and Charlotte will be leading on the administrative function.
It is such an honour to Chair the Club, particularly in the season we returned to in-person dinners. The new variant shows that we must learn to live with COVID19, but it also reminds us just how precious these occasions are when we can come together – and we should appreciate them.
It is a great thing to bring this amazing community of influence together and, as we move into the New Year, we will continue to take the club forward, trying (and no doubt sometimes failing) to cater for a new reality. As part of this effort, we have revamped the Club website: hopefully it will be less of a simple booking engine and a little more of a dynamic community hub. That new site will go live this week and we will be delighted to hear your feedback.
Finally I would like to thank you all for your continuing support. I wish you and your families all the best for the holiday season, however you celebrate it.