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The Ship Hotel in Weybridge was the venue for our Gala Dinner in January. Members and their guests turned up in their finery to enjoy the evening and some booked an overnight stay at the hotel, where they were made extremely welcome. We don’t have many opportunities to dress up these days, do we?

A drinks reception before the meal gave us the opportunity to chat to friends and catch up after Christmas. Then we sat down for the meal accompanied by the elegant background music of the “Sounds Easy” jazz band. Toasts were made to The Queen and “absent friends” and an amusing speech by the Commodore was followed by a toast to the guests from members and a reply on behalf of the guests, given by the Commodore’s son Mark O’Brien.

Guest speaker Jean Haynes was a highlight of the evening. Jean was the first woman bailiff in the country. She described how she got started in the business, and then regaled us with many wonderful stories about her experiences, ranging from the difficulties of dealing with travellers and livestock, to impounding a Jumbo Jet when the owners owed £35,000 in taxes.

Trophies were awarded to those members who were present. A very special award was made to Bob and Viv Tapp for their outstanding dedication and commitment to the club over the past 34 years. Bob was the fifth Commodore of Walton Bridge Cruiser Club and has served on the Committee for many years, generously sharing his remarkable expertise whenever it was needed. Viv’s quiet calmness has given great confidence to many families, particularly those new to tidal cruising. Throughout the years they have extended the warmth of their friendship to club members and other mariners alike and are always willing to engage with individuals from all backgrounds and circumstances. In doing so, they have been tireless ambassadors for the club and have brought us many new members. The couple were presented with a beautiful crystal vase engraved with details of the award. Thanks to the Commodore and his Committee for a terrific evening and congratulations to them all!