On the Friday evening before the final action-packed day of the 6 Nations Championship, when Wales had to beat France to win the Grand Slam, when Scotland had to beat Italy to avoid the wooden spoon, and England had to beat a strong and highly regarded Ireland side to get its first home win of the season, it was with a great deal of excitement that almost 250 Spoon supporters and their friends gathered at the Connaught Rooms in Central London for our 6 Nations Ball.
The evening was brilliantly hosted by Martin Bayfield and it was not difficult to spot his towering figure at the pre-dinner drinks. As the guests gathered, so did the number of well known faces from the rugby world - Rob Henderson legendary tackler with 32 caps for Ireland, Craig Chalmers with 60 caps for Scotland, Serge Betsen, arguably one of the best back row players of the modern game with 63 caps for France, Rob Jones, now more often seen as a rugby commentator but with 54 caps for Wales, and Mark (Sharkey) Robinson with 3 caps for the All Blacks and quite a number of premiership players too. The main topic of conversation seemed to be whether Wales had the strength to beat France and, if not, whether England could build on their performance against France to beat the Irish by enough to take the Championship - and of course, whether Stuart Lancaster therefore would retain his job as coach!
Once guests found their tables, Martin started the evening with a game of Heads and Tails to win tickets to the England Ireland Match the following day as well as four lucky guests winning our four mystery prizes. He then introduced Suzie Haworth, Spoon's Corporate Development Director, who welcomed and thanked all our supporters and spoke of the work of Spoon and how much it is benefitting disadvantaged children across the British Isles. Bill Hill, Chief Executive of Spoon, then gave more detail of the great successes of the past 12 months, all the more remarkable in view of the difficult economic conditions.
A delicious dinner with good wine followed and led the way into the auction and raffle where guests had the opportunity to win and to buy some fabulous and unique prizes. The highlight of the evening for our rugby fans was the panel discussion, chaired by Martin Bayfield and with France, Ireland, Wales and Scotland represented by Serge Betsen, Rob Henderson, Rob Jones and Craig Chalmers. The questions were many and varied but Martin did take the opportunity, which only a 6' 10" second row forward would dare to do, to remind Serge that England had just beaten France, when he was propounding France's chances of beating Wales!
Alex Coulson tweeted 'Solid line up @Charityspoon rugby dinner. Great cause and great evening' http://bit.ly/xGvonT
Eventually Martin had to call full time and revellers took to the dance floor until the early hours, with the last few stragglers still in the bar at 2.30 am! Grateful thanks must go to O2 for sponsoring the event, all Ambassadors who donated fabulous prizes for the raffle and auction, and the rugby stars who generously gave up their time. A fantastic evening enjoyed by all and most importantly raising significant funds to continue the dream, born in 1983 from a winless 5 Nations, to make a real difference to the lives of physically, mentally and socially disadvantaged children across all four Home Nations.
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