For our 59th London Dinner we made our first visit to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors at Parliament Square; the headquarters of President Graham's professional institution. A near record attendance of 86 members met for pre-dinner drinks in the marble clad Council Chamber before moving next door into the wood panelled Lecture Hall to dine. The Rev. Jonathan Croucher (Troy, 1980-87) provided a short but enthusiastic Grace before our meal of elegantly presented charred Cornish mackerel starter, slow cooked Herdwick lamb main course and treacle tart with clotted cream dessert, followed by coffee and macaroons. We asked whether Michel Roux Jnr. was in the kitchen that night but unfortunately he was not ... Steve was on duty. (Steve Groves, the Head Chef was the winner of the BBC Masterchef Professional competition in 2009.)
As usual the evening was expertly stage managed by our regular MC Chris Sorrell (Sparta, 1975-1982) who regularly invited selected guests to take wine with Graham; these included his son, Tom and the fellow Chartered Surveyors present. This year's unique London Dinner toast to the "youngest and oldest" was taken with Owain Hathaway (Sparta, 2010-2017) and John Collings (Sparta, 1944-1950). Owain had only left the School in the Summer. The toast to Absent Friends included mention of two fondly remembered former staff members who had recently passed away, Vic Kemp (1958-1994) and Alastair Sutherland (1981-2006).
President Graham then gave a short speech regaling his career links to the RICS, his year in office so far and notice of future OSA events. He also noted that Chairman Clive Shiret (Athens, 1973-1975) had been the catering manager at the venue 30 years ago when he first met his now wife Penny. Graham also gave a brief overview of developments at the School including the building project and the organ rebuild and refurbishment together with the exciting plans for Garon Park, home of the football and cricket clubs.
The evening concluded with an enthusiastic, unaccompanied rendition of the School Song.
Those that were able to find it retired to the Pembury bar next door for an after dinner drink before either joining the coach home or continuing the evening in Town.