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Annual Dinner report: 9 March 2024

Lorna Hill brings us a report with interesting historical snippets and news of long-service awards from the Annual Dinner, held on 9 March, 2024 at the Royal Burnham Yacht Club. 

What a treat it is, to be a guest at the Royal Burnham Yacht Club. This lovely venue is steeped in history and dates back to 1893. With the arrival of the railway a few years earlier, it was realised that Burnham-on-Crouch was no longer a difficult to reach, out of the way quiet backwater. Sailing enthusiasts from London decided to create a branch of the London Sailing Club in the town, as they could easily visit Burnham via the new railway. This ‘branch’ of the London Sailing Club was short lived as just two years later in 1895, it was decided to launch the ‘Burnham Yacht Club’. The Club commenced with the release of 400 shares, strictly on the basis of one per member. The annual membership cost was one guinea (21 shillings or just over £1, for our younger readers), plus an entrance fee of one guinea. According to the Memorandum of Association, the aim was to provide a Yachting and Social Club which ‘should offer the encouragement of sailing and other sports by the giving of prizes or otherwise amongst gentlemen amateurs’. The Club grew over the years and received Royal Patronage in December 1927.

Well you couldn’t really get a more fitting place to hold an annual dinner to celebrate the past year’s East Coast OGA activities, and to look forward to the forthcoming sailing season. Upon arrival, admittedly somewhat early, Members were engrossed in the rugby which was being played on a large screen. We were able to enjoy a beer or two whilst watching England beat Ireland! The RBYC has it all, a great function room complete with grand piano and historic marine paintings hanging on the walls. There are numerous half models of notable yachts displayed, along with a very comfortable bar with vintage Lloyd Loom chairs for you to relax in. It also has rooms! Yes, rooms. They have recently received a makeover, adding new beds and décor. So with everything on hand so to speak, we were able to wander off to our room to dress for dinner after the rugby. Did I mention that England beat Ireland?

Trevor and Elaine Rawlinson had decorated the gorgeous dark blue room with numerous flags and ensigns as they always do. They go to a lot of effort to set the scene for a delightful evening, and for this we thank them. Everyone enjoyed a three course meal, though really it was four courses as a mountain of cheese appeared as if by magic, complete with the decanter of port. I must mention the ‘sticky toffee pudding’ without which, the Annual Burnham Dinner would be far from complete! The serving of this important component dates back many years and is associated with dear Jon Wainwright. Sticky Toffee Pudding is really a toast to Jon.

With the eating and drinking complete, well not the drinking to be honest, there were some  awards to be presented. Our new President, Paul Masters assisted by our new Secretary and Vice President Pete Elliston, officiated this part of the proceedings. Two awards for ‘long service’ were presented to two couples:
Pete & Clare Thomas for 19 years on the Committee including a spell as President and for Clare’s 16 years service as Treasurer and
Robert & Lorna Hill’s nine years service as President & Secretary. 

I must elaborate on these awards as they were magnificent. Claudia Myatt, our ‘artist in residence’ had been commissioned to paint montages for each couple of their various boats and events they had participated in.  The results are stunning. A further award was also made by the Association President, Mike Beckett to Robert & Lorna Hill as they had won the David Cade Award but were unable to attend the National AGM in Liverpool earlier this year to receive it.

The President then introduced our Speaker, Julia Jones. Julia spoke about The Royal Navy Volunteer Supplementary Reserve (RNVSR). This unit of around 2000 men was set up by the Admiralty in 1936 for gentlemen sailors who might be of use to the Navy in time of war. The RNVSR popularly known as the Yachtsman’s Reserve, undertook training both ashore and afloat. They were regarded by some with some trepidation originally, but as the outbreak of war occurred and these reservists showed what they were made of, they proved their worth to the Navy. The Admiralty’s early expectations were justified. Julia’s father was one of these 2000 men. Rather apologetically, she admitted that as a teenager she did not grasp what her father had participated in during his early 20s. By a chance find in the attic, she discovered his written notes detailing his active service.

Julia has written a book ‘Uncommon Courage’, published by Adlard Coles, detailing the wealth of information she has recovered during her research for the book. It promises to be a very good read. It was good to catch up with friends and acquaintances, some of them travelling from as far afield as the Netherlands, very good to see you Kees and Ernie. Thanks also go to Tony and Shirley Judd for travelling a long distance to join us. Tony’s latest model boat, a Galway hooker is a work of art, the superb craftsmanship is unmistakable on studying his detailed photographs.

I look forward to next year and would strongly recommend getting the Annual Burnham Dinner in your diary for 2025.

Words: Lorna Hill
Photos: Paul Masters & Marion Shirley