SPRING GUEST DINNER: 21st APRIL 2022 – RAF CLUB, PICCADILLY, LONDON.
It was very special to return to the prestigious RAF Club in Piccadilly after a two-year absence due to the pandemic, the venue for our Annual General Meetings for many years.
The Sovereign Room was almost filled to its capacity of 120 by Old Friends and their friends and the atmosphere was fantastic.
The event started slightly differently than usual.
Normally, the ceremonial changing of the Officers of the Society takes place at the AGM but, as this year’s meeting was held in a virtually, the hand-overs took place after the President’s opening remarks.
John Logan presented Steve Hilleard with the chain for Honorary Treasurer, Tina Russell presented Liz Whyte the chain for Honorary Secretary and Steve Robinson the President’s chain to John Logan.
There was a very warm welcome for a special guest.
James Cryer is an accomplished author and also happens to be the Secretary of the Australian Society of Old Friends.
Her Majesty the Queen is a Patron of the Royal Air Force Club and looking down on us was a portrait of her commissioned a few years ago commemorating 100 years of the organisation.
It was a privilege to hold the Loyal Toast on the very day of her 96th birthday and in the 70th year that we celebrate her reign.
At 9pm, as always, the Society of Old Friends rose as one, to share a moment to toast Absent Friends!
Then it was time to introduce the Guest of Honour. Nigel Owens MBE is the most capped International Rugby Union Referee ever, having officiated at over 150 rugby internationals, including 3 World Cup tournaments.
As you look through the list of so many wonderful past Honoured Guests that have previously spoken at the Society events, Nigel was the first speaker to come from a rugby background and he was excellent!
He not only showed his great sense of humour, but also his mastery of timing.
The audience was spellbound for almost an hour as he shared stories of his life, hilarious anecdotes from his career and his observations of life were fascinating.
He captivated the room and was entertaining and funny, finishing with the very stirring and thoughtful view that ‘respect’ the most valuable of all personal traits.
What a great man!