Sutton Coldfield’s Golden Anniversary-A speech by Gemma Hoefkens

Our theme tonight is “something special” and I don’t think I can begin my talk without

mentioning how special Di was, not only to me but to the group. Di was the first person I met when I came along to the speakers club when we were in the golf club in Four Oaks. She was very welcoming and kindly helped me, by giving me lifts to and from the club. As we drove we’d have a chat and get to know each other a little more and she’d give me advice on some tips on speaking. A special lady indeed and sad news for us all.

Tonight, I want to speak to you about our very special Golden Anniversary dinner last week, for the benefit of those of you who weren’t able to come and for those who were, to reminisce.

So I will briefly speak about the preparation of this monumental event, what happened and the best part of the evening.

Behind the scenes

Some preparation was needed to mark this special event.

At the committee meeting it was thought, rather than a group balloon ride or sky diving or a party at Pam’s, that a dinner would be the best option.

The venue and the right size room had to be found and not surprisingly it was Di that had recommended The Terrace, where we had our event. So even though she wasn’t able to attend, she had a part in it all.

New, current and previous members were invited and then invited again when they hadn’t responded and various dietary requirements were relayed to the chef. Pam was responsible for collecting and banking all the cheques and paying the bill.

Alyson had arranged that a golden helium balloon with 50 printed on it was on each table and there were beautiful handmade name places.

An order of the evenings events were written, I think by David but unbeknown to me, I think some last minute photocopying had to be done and I think this was Ammo’s wife, Jaz, who kindly stepped in, as she was presented with flowers at the end of the evening.

Prior to our meal we all congregated in the bar and reintroduced ourselves to new and old friends and faces.

After Alyson’s introduction and welcome to our honoured guests Alan and Jean Badger, we were served our chosen meals and the feedback I got was mostly positive, and Pam made me laugh when she said “she’d had never had chips with a roast dinner before but she just couldn’t resist them” as I couldn’t either.

The entertainment and challenge of the evening was to tell a story and for the audience to guess whether it be True or False.

Molly did her story on her childhood trip to a London theatre and going back stage to meet Beatrice Lillie, the comedian, and how that experience influenced her love of the stage.

Pam’s story was about her amazing coincidence when dining with her son and his girlfriend in Boston last month. Her son, his girlfriend and the waitress not only had the same birthday, but were all born in the same year.

David’s story was also set in America, in Massachusetts,  and was about Timothy Dexter, the man who made his fortune by selling coal to Newcastle and stray cats to the West Indies.

The vote was taken. Who was telling the truth; who was telling porkies?

It was a difficult decision. Some of the stories seemed too ridiculous to be true, others more obvious and so must be true, but our job was to decide if the speakers were bluffing us and whether their very believable stories were true or not, or making their story not too amazing and hoping we would think they were true when they were actually false.

We were all surprised to find that all three 3 stories were true.

However, it was Pam who actually scored the most votes and fooled the most people by making us think her story couldn’t be true when it was and was awarded the President’s cup.

The raffle was drawn by David and the evening closed by our president, Alyson.

LASTLY the highlight of the evening – and I’m sure you will all agree was the announcement and prize giving for this year’s most improved speaker.

Which happened to be ME.

Gemma Hoefkens is presented with the Hwyl Stone

It was a stone, a large grey stone, from Wales and under it was a plaque which says SCSC HWYL stone.

Looking this up on Google, this Welsh word has a variety of meanings –

A sail of a ship

A person’s physical and mental condition

Or fun

So out of those I think I’ll choose FUN .

As it is very fitting, as fun, is what I had on our very special celebration.

Gemma Hoefkens 8/11/12