Club Dinner 2019

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Last updated 28 November 2019

 

The 150th Anniversary Dinner, 7 November 2019

 

The 150th Anniversary Dinner was held on 7 November 2019 in the Members' Dining Room, House of Commons chaired with aplomb by  President, Julian Golding. Colonel Bob Stewart DSO was in attendance, Professor Myra Nimmo (Chair: England Athletics) proposed a toast to the club and the principal guest was Commonwealth 200m gold medallist Mike McFarlane OBE each of whom were presented with engraved commemorative glasses. The president of the Kent County AA, the president of Thames Hare & Hounds and the presidents of our traditional mob match clubs Orion Harriers, Ranelagh Harriers and South London Harriers were all in attendance.

 

One hundred and sixty-eight guests attended this very grand function developed and planned by PP Professor Chris Haines and VP / Trustee David Appleton.

 

Photos start here...

 


 

The 150th Anniversary Dinner 7th November. 2019

This write up for the above event will appear in its complete form in the Winter 2019/2020 Issue of the Gazette, which is expected to be out sometime next summer. Many thanks to PP Chris Haines for his additional information in producing this report of a memorable evening.

The Blackheath and Bromley AC 150th Anniversary dinner, which took place at the House of Commons Members Dining Room on the 7th of November 2019 was one of several events intended to mark the club’s anniversary year 2019-2020, but perhaps could best be the apex of the year of celebrations marking that anniversary, an all-inclusive event, which could be attended by all with an interest in the club including partners, social members, administrators.

Amongst the special guests invited were our local MP (for Beckenham) Colonel Bob Stewart DSO. M.P. Planning for the dinner began in May 2018 by courtesy of Colonel Stewart and formal invitations carried his name. However, the dissolution of parliament on 5th November and the calling of a general election meant that Colonel Stewart could no longer be our host and our 150th Anniversary Dinner had to be restyled as a private function. Fortunately, Colonel Stewart was able to attend as a private individual with restrictions placed on his contributions to the proceedings.

As well as him, there were also invited Professor Myra Nimmo, Chair of England Athletics, and former Commonwealth Games 100 metre winner Mike McFarlane. the Presidents of four Clubs with whom our own club has had a long-standing rivalry:

Michael Farmery Thames Hare & Hounds, Richard Carter South London Harriers, Rebecca Curtis-Hall Ranelagh Harriers, Robert Jousifffe Orion Harriers; Claire Capon President Kent County AA; Allan Finn Biggin Hill Airport sponsor to the club and Denise Finn; Ade Sofolarin, club member and major benefactor and Ailee Macadam. In addition, there were present along with the current President Julian Golding 17 past presidents and 34 Vice Presidents, and 6 of the 8 Trustees.

The evening was built around a time slot allowed by the House of Commons starting with a drinks reception due to commence at 6.30pm. The growing number of invitees entering Westminster Hall started making their way up the stairs of the Hall and down the corridors to the octagonal hub of the parliament buildings, the Central Lobby, past statues of eminent parliamentarians, and overlooked by carved statuettes of monarchs from past centuries of British history. Some of the more observant members had noticed that the lobby floor tiling displayed a large device which bore an uncanny resemblance to the club badge (from 1878 to 2003) which seemed to make the occasion more relevant to the surroundings.

Then it was on to the Strangers’ Dining Room and the lovely adjoining Pugin Room for the drinks reception. This entitled everyone to a free drink (prosecco, beer or a soft drink) and access to a makeshift bar for any further drinks at somewhat exorbitant prices. At this point perhaps to appreciate the value of the occasion against its price, one needed to consider the magnificent splendour of the decor, brilliant red flock wallpaper, the proliferation of paintings, and an altogether arcane but still splendid aura of pre-war grandeur of a long-vanished age.

The reception continued as the full assembly was now met and photographs were being taken, officially by Tom Phillips for the website, and individually from whole groups of guests anxious to capture the event for posterity. There was another interlude as more drinks were bought at the bar and then we were summoned to dinner just after 7.15pm to make our way into the dining room which was impressively adorned with beautiful flock wallpaper, wooden relief sculptures and plenteous portraits of parliamentarians down the ages. High painted ceilings, huge windows that look out over the Commons Terrace and carved oak paneled walls give these dining rooms a sense of grandeur and political intrigue unlike any other restaurant.

The tables had been laid out in the manner of top class restaurants with the usual pristine white tablecloths and napkins but not too many pieces of cutlery as there were only three courses at this meal. Everyone quickly made their way to their designated table and, grace having been pronounced in the simplest fashion with no reference to the club’s athletic activities, the dinner commenced.

The food was of modest size consisting of a starter of treacle glazed salmon, main course of baked corn-fed chicken with some vegetables and potatoes and a combination dessert of sponge, meringue and ice cream entitled Lemon baked Alaska. Although it looked small on the plate it proved to be surprisingly filling. Wine was provided with the meal, one bottle of red and of white for each table but additional wines such as Colombard Sauvignon Blanc and House of Commons Merlot could be ordered for the price of £26 per bottle, which needless to say did not deter some people.

Coffee and petit fours followed and by 8.45pm the noise of diners was dinned for the customary toasts to the Queen and Royal Family, made with glasses of Quinta de la Rosa vintage port which was at this time still being hastily being distributed by the enthusiastic but overworked waiting staff. If wine was something they discerningly served, then water was doled out liberally. However it would have been highly disrespectful to toast the Queen with mere water!

There followed a brief interval before the speeches commenced with four main speakers representing the House, the Club, the Guests and the President. Proposing Colonel Bob Stewart was PP (1992-3) Alan Pickering whose dry wit provided the perfect warm up act. In the seat of parliamentary government, he made an appropriate remark about politics and athletics as both having the capacity to unite and also divide. He remarked that the club was part of a wider community and that as a club we were promoting that sense of community through the many bonds of friendship within its membership.

In politics and athletics, we could equally have tribalism or community. Hopefully the new clubhouse would foster a sense of unity and he paid tribute to those grandees of the club who were setting aside their differences to embrace this hopeful future. He then turned to Bob Stewart with whom he had worked in Bosnia in the early 1990s when the Colonel had been Commander of the UN forces there, and then joked “I still have a job, but you don’t!” referring to the fact that with parliament dissolved for the forthcoming General Election, the Colonel was now attending as a private individual with restrictions placed on his proceedings he was introduced as ‘Bob with no name’!

Bob with no name had promised not to make a speech, and what he had to say was brief. He mentioned that he had some links to the club through his 16-year-old son who trained sometimes at Norman Park and was hoping to get into the Royal Marines or the Army. He added that “you are terribly special and I am proud that Blackheath Harriers is in the constituency which I’ve represented and hope to do so again after December the 12th.”

Next to speak was Dame Myra Nimmo, the Chair of England Athletics, herself an International athlete in the 1970s who gave an interesting insight into athletic history referring to the foundation in 1866 of the Amateur Athletics Club which opened athletics to those from lower social classes and allowed them to participate in competition. This progressiveness and inclusiveness she said was embedded in the club’s mission statement.

“How had we lasted 150 years?” she asked. By inclusiveness in all our activities from International competition to the mob matches and in institutions such as the Bees Academy. Every person she added should take pride in the club’s success, as one of the largest and oldest athletic clubs in the country. She then proposed the toast to Blackheath and Bromley Harriers AC.

Paul Austridge (momentarily elevated to the status of a Past President!) responded and mentioned some notable names in the club’s history including the performances of Olympian H.B Stallard in 1924 (bronze in the 1500 meters), and after the inclusion of women in 1992, the achievements of Dina Asher-Smith, Holly Arnold, Helen Godsell, (“we have three women world champions”). There were also world class officers (such as John Baldwin) world class coaches (such as John Blackie) and officials such as Mark Purser who has recently represented the club in Stockholm in the capacity of a starter and the Diamond League in Birmingham as Chief Starter, and whose greatest achievement was not disqualifying a single Blackheath Harrier this last summer!

The club had produced world class performers on the track and what they did at the World Championships in Doha in terms of what was achieved by their country was akin to ‘West Ham winning the world Cup for England in 1966’. With Blackheath having been founder members of the British Athletic League in 1969, the Young Athletes winning the National League nine times in a row in the 1980s, and the promise shown by the present generation of international athletes, the club had, concluded Paul “a Long and celebrated past, a hugely successful present and a bright and exciting future”.

PP (2016-17) Bill Foster now rose to propose a toast to the various guests attending from sponsors, supporters and the other rival clubs and of which Mike MacFarlane was one and who responded on behalf of the guests. He did this by giving a stirring talk about the concept of success in which he stated that people’s perception of success is all graded differently, and is not about record times or medals but about the influence they have and the foundation they have laid.

He remembered 1982 when he won the Commonwealth Games 200 meters gold and with some amusement referred to it as the medal he’d won outright (as opposed to only sharing the victory with Alan Wells) but recalled the disappointment of the 1983 World Championships (‘those who can’t hear must feel”) and his promise that he would make good this setback by reaching the final of the Olympic 200 meters in 1984. With intense training he did that and finished an impressive fifth. He also spoke with admiration about Julian Golding and how he had coached and nurtured him and other famous athletes from that era who he’d watched mature IPP (2018-19) Paul Byfield now proposed a toast to his successor the present President Julian Golding, likening this task to being the best man at a wedding. He talked of what Julian brought to the role of president and his capacity to speak at key events, such as a talk he gave to the Young Athletes League where he drew on his own success as an athlete and asked the young people to visualize that success. He ended by recalling a story where Julian had raced against Michael Johnson and beat him- by crossing the start-line before Michael Johnson.

When the president responded he gave a short reminiscence of the time when he was asked by Paul to be the club president. After having said no initially, he had discussed the matter with his wife and decided that he was ‘going to do this’ after all. He praised Blackheath Harriers as being a great club and would encourage young people to join Blackheath Harriers particularly as it had the best youth policy of any club in the country. He praised everyone who played a pivotal role and thanked Mike MacFarlane who had encouraged him to achieve much from relatively unpromising beginnings. Because of him he was a qualified teacher and he owed so much to the Commonwealth Champion. Athletics he said, ‘gives you the building blocks for success’. He likened the club to a family and he encouraged all in the club to do what they could to make young people become great members of his society.

During the course of the speeches each of Colonel Stewart, Professor Nimmo and Mike Macfarlane were presented with an engraved commemorative glass. IPP Paul Byfield presented a gold brooch to Samantha Golding in recognition of the support she has given and continues to give to the president.

After the speeches there was still wine left to drink and time to socialize but the host started to drift away as ten thirty approached. However, for some the evening was not over and a crowd of revelers was slowly gathering for further refreshments. The moving spirit behind this was club chairman Nick Corry whose verbal contributions during the evening had provided a classier form of heckling. Now like some Texas rancher he was herding willing or not so willing souls for a post dinner drink at the St Stephen’s Tavern nearby. A fair number did follow on to that pub and in fact packed the place out to reflect on the evening and, to the amazement of the other drinkers in the tavern, gave a spirited rendition of the club cry conducted by who else but Nick Corry! What the onlookers thought of a crowd of dinner jacketed revelers is anyone’s guess. Even after time was called a hard core of heathern staggered across Westminster Bridge in search of further refreshment with a few hardy souls staging a sortie on a nearby hotel. But by 12.30pm the celebrations had petered out.

Finally, there were 168 people attending the dinner, 168 for the 150 years of the club’s existence first as Peckham Hare and Hounds, then Peckham Athletics Club, and later Blackheath Harriers and finally Blackheath and Bromley Harriers AC. That works out as .89 of a year for each attendee, or 10 months and 15 days per person. If the club had a draw to which everyone present at the dinner was entered and allotted 10 months and 15 days each, what would be the first prize in the lottery draw for the greatest 10 ½ months of the club’s history, and who would win it?

Wilfred Orton VP
Gazette Editor

 


 

Photos from Tom Phillips

 

 

 

 

These photos from various sources and people including Jan Mahoney, Paul Byfield, Mike Peel, Pat Calnan, Dave Thomson, Julian Haines

 

And it continued down the pub...

      Table           Table
1 Joan   Allison OBE P   86 PP Denis   Lawrie P
2 Ronald   Allison BEM P   87 Clem   Leon 8
3 Marco   Arcuri 8   88 VP Peter   Lester 12
4 VP Claire   Austridge P   89 Tricia   Lester 12
5 VP Paul   Austridge P   90 Angela   Lissaman 6
6 Clayton   Aves 13   91 VP John   Lissaman 6
7 PP John   Baldwin P   92 Gareth   Lloyd 2
8 PP Margaret   Baldwin P   93 Heather   Lloyd 2
9 Joss   Barber 13   94 VP Simon   Lloyd 3
10 Nick   Barber 13   95 Ailee   Macadam P
11 Bernie   Bater 9   96 Jan   Mahoney 1
12 Deborah   Bater 9   97 PP Michael   Mahoney 1
13 John   Beck 12   98 Daniel   Marks 13
14 Danny   Brewer 13   99 Helder   Marques 7
15 Louise   Bridson 5   100 Stephanie   Marques 7
16 Niamh   Bridson Hubbard 5   101 Graham   Martin 10
17 PP Nicholas   Brooks P   102 Joanne   McFarlane P
18 VP Robert   Brown 7   103 Michael   McFarlane OBE P
19 Matt   Bullen 9   104 Linda   Michell 6
20 Valerie   Bullen 9   105 VP Roger   Michell 6
21 PP Paul   Byfield P   106 Eileen   Miller 4
22 PP Patrick   Calnan P   107 Ian   Montgomery 9
23 Carol   Campbell 3   108 VP Jackie   Montgomery 9
24 Claire   Capon P   109 Prof Myra   Nimmo P
25 Richard   Carter P   110 VP Paul   Patten P
26 Catherine   Carton 7   111 Jan   Pontifex 4
27 David   Carton 7   112 Sara   Smith 6
28 Ian   Cayzer 1   113 Finbarr   O'Gorman 6
29 Mary   Cayzer 1   114 Valerie   O'Gorman 6
30 Joe   Clare 10   115 VP Wilfred   Orton 3
31 PP Robert   Cliff 7   116 Julia   Pairman 12
32 Vicky   Cliff 7   117 VP Steven   Pairman 12
33 David   Cluney 7   118 Fintan   Parkinson 10
34 PP Stephen   Cluney 7   119 PP Michael   Peel 2
35 Susan   Cluney 7   120 VP Tom   Phillips 11
36 PP Richard   Coe 9   121 PP Alan   Pickering CBE P
37 George   Collins 8   122 VP Anthony   Pontifex 4
38 Dr Mark   Colpus 2   123 Susan   Prichard 4
39 Alice   Cordell 11   124 VP Mark   Purser P
40 PP David   Cordell 11   125 Samantha   Purser P
41 Barnaby   Corry 5   126 Stanley   Ridgewell 8
42 Coleman   Corry 5   127 Madelaine   Rothschild 2
43 VP Nicolas   Corry 5   128 VP Colin   Rowe 11
44 Dorothy   Counter 1   129 Josephine   Rowe 11
45 VP Roger   Counter 1   130 Michael   Salmon 11
46 Rebecca   Curtis-Hall P   131 Roy   Savery 11
47 Richard   Daniels 13   132 Malcolm   Scopes 5
48 Heather   Davies 2   133 Maureen   Scopes 5
49 Sandra   Delahoy 3   134 VP Terri   Shotton 2
50 Trevor   Delahoy 3   135 VP Michael   Skinner P
51 Cedric   Edmonds 6   136 VP Roy   Smith P
52 VP Richard   Edmonds 6   137 Ade   Sofolarin P
53 Luca   Ercolani 13   138 PP Tim   Soutar P
54 Karen   Farmery P   139 Col Bob   Stewart DSO P
55 Michael   Farmery P   140 Charlotte   Stickings 4
56 Allan   Finn P   141 Nigel   Stickings 4
57 Denise   Finn P   142 VP Adrian   Stocks 8
58 PP Bill   Foster P   143 Iain   Swatton 12
59 Bethan   Francis 4   144 VP Nick   Swatton 12
60 VP Alex   Gibbins 10   145 Amanda   Taylor 10
61 Chris   Gibson 3   146 Dr Ian   Taylor 10
62 VP Ray   Gibson 3   147 John   Taylor 9
63 President Julian   Golding P   148 David   Thomson 2
64 Samantha   Golding P   149 Kenneth   Tonkin 2
65 Andrew   Grace 2   150 Chris   Tuck 13
66 PP Derek L   Gregory P   151 VP John   Turner 8
67 Margaret   Gregory P   152 VP Marion   Turner 8
68 PP Prof Christopher   Haines 11   153 Elsie   Wade 4
69 Julian   Haines 11   154 Michael   Wade 4
70 VP Richard   Hall 10   155 Trevor   Wahlen 10
71 VP Peter   Hannell 6   156 Yvonne   Wahlen 10
72 Isobel   Harrington 5   157 Ray   Walsh 9
73 VP Rod   Harrington 5   158 Christopher   Waring 9
74 VP Chris   Hilditch P   159 Barry   Wetherilt 8
75 Freya   Hodgetts 13   160 William   Wheeler 3
76 PP Stephen   Hollingdale P   161 PP David   White 1
77 VP Richard   Holt 12   162 Jamie   White 1
78 John   Hubbard 5   163 Rita   White 1
79 Bob   Jousiffe P   164 Janida   Williams 3
80 Dan   Kennedy 13   165 Michael   Williams 3
81 VP Nigel   Keogh 12   166 Bernard   Wilson 10
82 Wendy   Keogh 12   167 Natalie   Wright 1
83 Andrew   Kingsmell 8   168 VP Ian   Young P
84 Zoe   Kingsmell 8   169       11
85 Stephen   Langdon 4   170       P

 

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