By Scott Heyhoe, Social Secretary.
I was sitting at the Annual Dinner in March of last year, listening to Dick Poole, our President, speak. Dick was recalling the halcyon days of the Annual Club Dinner. It brought back to me memories of Club Dinners gone by, with a lively crowd turning up, guest speakers, much banter. In the days before social media and year-round racing, the Annual Dinner really was the social highlight of the year, particularly in the “off season”.
It had been a struggle to encourage attendance at last year’s Annual Dinner, and I looked around and thought, “I’d like to help”. I wasn’t the only one. A survey was conducted by Jeff to understand why the Annual Dinner was dwindling, and what members would like to see at a once-a-year event. Lots of great feedback told us that there was definitely an appetite for this kind of event, and that something less formal, more accessible and more inclusive was needed. The Heron on the Lake in Fleet was selected as the venue, a guest speaker secured, a date chosen, and a new name of Club Night of the Year created.
A real stroke of luck occurred when our general secretary, Deb, was able to secure a fantastic cycling trip to Spain, and we decided to make this the first prize in a Grand Prize draw. Other companies were approached and the final prize list was really very attractive. Advertising across Facebook, email, website and word-of-mouth drove ticket sales and resulted in capacity being reached at the Heron – we actually sold out!
The evening itself seemed to pass off very well. Jeff welcomed everyone and Dick spoke about his recent CTT dinner and meeting with new End-to-End record holder Michael Broadwith. Nick Hale from Primera-TeamJobs Race Team spoke about the importance of a supportive cycling club as a place to learn to ride a bike and progress. The buffet was opened and swiftly consumed. The handing out of trophies is always a highlight of the annual event, and lots of trophy winners were present to receive their awards. And then we came to the prize draw. The prize list was truly exceptional: a holiday to Spain, an aero road helmet, carbon road shoes, sunglasses, vouchers for bike fit and bike servicing, and Tour of Britain clothing. Congratulations to all of the prizewinners. Terrific photos of award winners and prize winners can be found on the website, courtesy of Ian Stuart.
The only minor issue was the buffet really. It was clear that the Heron was not used to feeding 60 hungry cyclists, and the food choice was very limited for the final diners. Also, no puddings appeared. The Heron has since rectified this by providing cold desserts for 60 for the AGM.
As for next year, well we seem to have hit on a winning formula, and will retain most of that for next year. Please do send any comments and suggestions for improvement to Scott at [email protected]. We’ll probably go for a larger venue, and be sure to check out the food in advance! Thanks to all who helped make the evening a success, and particularly to everyone who turned up to make the evening a memorable one.