See the photo gallery from the St George’s celebration luncheon here https://www.flickr.com/photos/farmersclublondon/albums/72157693029741672
The annual Club occasion of St George’s day marked a significant first for the Farmers Club, as well as celebrating a traditional day in the Club calendar.
The significance was that owing to the huge demand for places to attend the lunch, we also put on a dinner, and thus the first time we had ever attempted to put on two events of this size on the same day and within 7 hours of each other.
Judging by the hugely positive reaction to both events, all 186 attendees enjoyed superb food, a superb speaker and a chance to catch up with friends, in what was a ‘buzzing’ Club atmosphere for almost the entire day.
Both started off with a reception featuring English sparkling wine, utilising the Club rooms but also the beautiful setting of the Terrace, where the faint chill did not seem to deter very many! Once Craig had sounded the gong for lunch and dinner, members and their guests entered the Farmers Suite to be welcomed by Chairman Peter Jinman.
A superb meal was served featuring the best of seasonal products including asparagus and strawberries, as well as some more traditional ingredients, but the superb fillet of beef seemed to attract especially high praise from the majority who spoke to me afterwards.
Once we had finished our meal, Peter set the scene for the eagerly anticipated speech of the incomparable Henry Blofeld; sports journalist, broadcaster, author and raconteur extraordinaire.
Introducing Henry, or ‘Blowers’ as he is referred to by almost everyone, including his wife, could be the basis of a speech in its own right, but members were able to quickly settle into what proved to be a masterclass of a speech, combining the anecdotal, narrative, commentary and humorous aspects of what has been a life lived to the full, and full of surprise and adventure.
Henry’s speech took us through the early years of the outside broadcast Unit at the BBC and his own introduction into the Test Match Special (TMS) team to join such luminaries as Brian Johnston (affectionately known as Johnners), Trevor Bailey (the Boil) and the legendary John Arlott.
We heard many interesting and hilarious anecdotes about Johnners and Arlott in particular, their travels throughout the sub-continent, Australia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, as well as the test grounds around the UK. Interspersed with some hilarious stories, some known to members, others not, the atmosphere in the Farmers Suite was superb with a heady mix of semi-serious listening and much laughter, which provided an unforgettable day.
At the end of his 40-minute speech, which seemed barely 10 minutes, a rapturous signal of appreciation could be heard throughout the building.
Not content with all that, Henry then spent over an hour signing his latest book for members, posing for photographs and having time for a word with anyone who wanted to engage him. He left the Club at 11.10pm having been here since just after mid-day!
A thoroughly enjoyable and unforgettable day in so many ways. But I think it was summed up best by one member I spoke to at the end who said, “we have been very fortunate to showcase the Club in this way and to have heard from a giant of broadcasting – the last of his generation, whom we will not see the like of again”.
- To become a member of the Club visit our Membership page http://www.thefarmersclub.com/membership