25 February 2020 / Club News

Chairman's Lunch

Last Friday, on the eve of the Wales v France Six Nations international, Old Penarthians held their inaugural Chairman’s Lunch at the clubhouse in St Marks Road.  The inspiration behind the lunch was new Rugby Club Chairman, Stephen Clarke, who wanted to build on previous fundraising activities  for the Better Life Appeal for Cystic Fibrosis, which is the chosen charity that the Club is supporting this season.

In this new venture Steve wanted to maximise the use of the facilities that the clubhouse has to offer and therefore with the help of some willing volunteers the bar area was transformed into a dining room for eighty-six diners.  The usual chairs, stools and tables together with the pool table were removed to storage and replaced with round tables and chairs suitable for the lunch-time event.

News of the Lunch was circulated via Social Media outlets and was quickly sold out.  In fact, as the time for the event came closer, the Club could have sold even more tickets.  It was however decided to place a limit on the numbers as this was a first attempt at such a gathering and to determine the practicality of positioning tables in the room and still being able to serve the guests.

 The layout was however successful and it may be practical to host further meals at the club with up to 100 diners, possibly even the Club Dinner & Presentation Evening

The catering for the lunch was undertaken by ‘Team Cross’, led by Helen Cross and supported by mum, dad, sisters and table serving staff and considering the size of the kitchen the food provided was of the highest quality.

The Lunch itself started with a ‘Heads & Tails’ competition based on the life and times of the Guest Speaker, Gareth Chilcott.  Ross Stephenson won the prize, narrowly overcoming Mike Matthews and David James with the final question, by knowing (guessing) that Gareth was born in 1956, had won 22 English Caps starting with a game against Australia and playing against Wales on three occasions (winning none).

Gareth also represented Bath RFC on 373 occasions and in 1989 was selected to tour with the British and Irish Lions to Australia.  In an enlightening and humorous speech, he indicated that the coach on that tour, Sir Ian McGeechan ,was the best he served under.  He also confirmed that he thoroughly enjoyed his role as an enforcer in the ‘dirt-trackers’ midweek side led by Irishman Donal Lenihan.

He considered himself a very proud Englishman but with a strong connection to Wales through his Welsh born father and Welsh wife. He recounted fabled outings against Neath and Pontypool, including the famous front row of Faulkner, Windsor and Price, in front of mid-week sell-out crowds

In a lively question and answer session he considered that former Cardiff backrower, Bob Lakin, was a better player than his son, the present first XV captain, Rhys; that he had saved the life of Dai Young after a raft capsized in rapids on a Lions rest day; that he would have been a better player if he had been taller and that he would fancy his chances as a prop against any of todays’ modern day players provided he wasn’t 63.

On a more serious point he congratulated the Club on championing such a worthwhile charity and for supporting Rhys Goodfellow in his recovery from a double organ transplant as he himself had undergone a similar liver transplant three years ago, which he considered to be life-saving.

Following this speech an auction of five items was held.  Enthusiastic bidders were pleased to take away a framed Real Madrid football shirt signed by Gareth Bale: a framed Wales rugby shirt donated by Rhys Patchell signed by the current Welsh team; a rugby ball donated by Neil Jenkins signed by the Welsh world cup squad: two four-ball rounds of golf at the Vale and hospitality for two at the Wales v France match offered by Kenny Rattenbury of the Wild Water Group.

With the funds raised through a raffle it is hoped that a donation to the Better Life Appeal will be in excess of £3,000 and it was left to the Chairman to thank all contributors and attendees for making the event such a success.

It should also be noted that the next Old Penarthians league fixture will be this Saturday away to Gwernyfed.  A coach will be leaving the clubhouse at 11.30am for all those interested in attending the match that will kick off at 2.30pm.

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