- Posted by Sandra Evans
- On 14. Oktober 2016
The year 2016 has been a bumper one for celebrations at the British Women’s Club. In May we were invited to afternoon tea by HM Consul General Susan Speller in recognition of our 70th birthday. Then in June there was the fantastic lunch at the Radisson Blu to celebrate the 90th birthday of the Queen, swiftly followed by our memorable 70th Jubilee Party at ArabesQ.
Then, on 23rd August, Prince William visited Düsseldorf as part of the celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia – celebrations which continued over a weekend of special events throughout the town.
Prince William and loyal fans
The final celebratory event of this very special year was our luncheon in September at the Radisson Blu. It was an unseasonably glorious day – bright warm sunshine more suited to July than mid-September – so we were able to drink our welcome Sekt or orange juice on the terrace outside.
We were welcomed in true BWC style by Jay, Nicole and Maggie before being offered the opportunity (which we clearly could not refuse!) of buying raffle tickets by Linda. Members of the committee had been busy decorating the room in festive style and the tables looked equally special with confetti bearing the number 70, chocolates, lollies and very appropriate „Keep Calm You’re Only 70“ napkins!
Having enjoyed our cocktail on the terrace, we were ushered indoors and took our seats for the feast to come.
Tricia welcomed us all – 55 in total – and pointed out that our 40th birthday event had been held at the very same venue, which at that time was the InterContinental hotel. The Chairman then was Jennie Frege and so it was particularly appropriate that her daughter, Lizzie, was able to join us at the lunch to re-deliver the speech she had made at the Jubilee Party at the ArabesQ in June.
Tricia’s welcome being finished, we were invited to help ourselves to the buffet. To start were salads – tomato and mozzarella, potato, cold meat, Greek, tomato, cucumber, sun dried tomatoes plus a variety of green leaves and a choice of dressings – or cauliflower soup. To follow the choice was between Kalbsgeschnetzeltes with potatoes or fish curry with basmati rice. Then of course we were tempted by the dessert buffet of chocolate mousse, fresh fruit tarts and cakes. We were told that the buffet was also for other guests in the hotel, but I have to say I saw absolutely no-one else there. Did we frighten them off or something?
Linda welcoming the members
We then had the pleasure of hearing Lizzie G., daughter of our obviously much loved former member, the late Jennie Frege, reminisce about her mother and recount how important the BWC had been for her. Lizzie started by pointing out that when she spoke to us back in June it was just before the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. Much to her amazement and regret the vote was for Brexit and, like I would guess the majority of the ladies in the room, it was a decision that saddened and angered her greatly.
Asked by her children what difference Brexit would mean for them, Lizzie (who has both German and British passports) answered: „Well, I guess it means that when we go to the UK you and I will have fish and chips while we wait for Daddy to go through border control !“ What a lovely explanation, but we all know it will mean far, far more than that.
It was interesting to hear that three of Jennie’s six children have German nationality and the other three British. The three with German nationality are now in the process of also applying for British nationality. Lizzie’s full text will be in the special commemoration issue of the Newsletter which will be published towards the end of the year, so I will not cover the same ground here. Suffice it to say that it was just lovely to hear from her how important the BWC was to her mother Jennie, providing her with a much needed friendship and support. I had the pleasure of sitting opposite Betty S. and she told me about her friendship with Jennie, who was obviously a truly lovely lady.
Betty and Lizzie
In between hearing speeches from Lizzie and Joyce, our wonderful Vice Chair Linda toured the tables selling more raffle tickets, giving each of us an assurance that the ticket we were buying was definitely a lucky one. With her winning smile and patter I am sure she boosted the takings greatly.
So, with lighter purses, we listened to Joyce regaling us with stories of the ‘Great Dames’ of the club. It was just lovely to hear about all those women who in the past have been so important to the BWC who I did not have the pleasure to meet. The description that Joyce gave of the only one I had known, Gisela Jones, was just so accurate that I almost felt I knew the other ladies as well. Again, Joyce’s speech in its entirety will appear in the special Jubilee edition at the end of the year.
We were then treated to a special video presentation – a compilation of media coverage of HRH Prince William’s visit plus other previous royal visits to Düsseldorf.
The ZDF report on Prince William’s visit was particularly special as its focus was a small delegation from the BWC (consisting of Tricia Roberts, Pat Haselwood, Linda Longsden, Lynda Krüger, Avril Peters and Heike Schwarz) enjoying a traditional English tea – actually in the distinctly German Café Leopold in Pempelfort – suitably smartly clad and, in some cases, wearing fascinators and hats.
They went on to join the throng in the Ehrenhof in the hope of speaking to, or at least shaking hands with Prince William. Enthusiastically waving their Union Jacks the excitement was palpable. Linda Longsden certainly couldn’t contain her excitement and was shouting out „William! William!“ at the top of her voice in the hope that he would honour our plucky band with a greeting or handshake . . . sadly neither was forthcoming.
Tea to toast the Prince
We also saw Tricia, looking very elegant in her stylish black hat, practicing her curtsey just in case she would need it when attending the special evening reception in the Tonhalle attended by both Ministerpräsidentin Hannelore Kraft and Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel. Invited in her role as Chair of the BWC, Tricia was accompanied by her partner Andrew (suitably clad in his kilt) who is the Chair of the British Business Club.
A special birthday celebration requires a special birthday cake and we were not disappointed. Two étagères were carried in topped off with sparklers ablaze. But it wasn’t a traditional birthday cake, rather a delicious selection of petits fours which provided the ideal end to our lunch.
Tricia elegantly rounded up the occasion by thanking all that had helped her in ensuring it was such a success: Lynda K.’s husband Berndt for putting together the video presentation, Jay and Maggie, ably assisted by Nicole, for registering us all when we arrived and accepting our money, Carol for organizing everything with the Radisson and recording our registrations (this she did despite being in hospital for several days before the event), Jayne for laying out all the material for the ’Memory Lane’ Exhibition (sadly Heike, who together with Jayne had compiled this comprehensive array of memorabilia, was unable to be with us that day), the raffle ladies Carole and Linda, Pat for recording the whole event on film in true David Bailey style, Carole and Jay for decorating everything so beautifully, Lesley and myself for offering to provide a write-up on the event and of course everyone else for being there to make the occasion such a special one.
Tricia, Carole and Joyce
And so to the raffle, always awaited with excitement. The prizes were an eclectic mixture of treats with the first prize being a framed Editha Hackspiel print which was won by Avril. As Joyce explained, this year Frau Hackspiel kindly gave us two designs for our Christmas cards. Both are views of the Altstadt in Düsseldorf including the ferris wheel in Burgplatz which is such a feature of the Weihnachtsmarkt.
Thank you Tricia and your band of merry helpers for organizing such an enjoyable 70th Celebration Luncheon – certainly a day to remember!