London Bodyguard Banquet
February 2020 - Watermen's Hall
The Valentine's Day evening commenced with a champagne reception at the wonderful Watermen's Hall for the London Bodyguard Annual City Banquet. Presiding this year was V. E. Kt. Capt. Dick Fogwill RN.
The event, once more delivered on all fronts. Watermen's Hall is one of the city's finest dining venues and the 18th century Georgian Hall provided a wonderful nautical backdrop for the evening and for our presiding guest. The exhibits in the Freemen's Room in particular helped to create an intimate atmosphere and unique setting. Dinner too, proved to be an excellent choice.
Grilled fillet of lemon sole, celeriac compote and a dill reduction was followed by an English scone topped with spinach and scrambled egg and hollandaise glazed sauce. Then a medallion of venison, a roasted blackberry jus celeriac potatoes and glazed baby vegetables was followed by a tian of roasted fig and satsuma, a blood orange coulis and Grand Marnier ice cream. A selection of outstanding wines at each course with port or cognac after dinner rounded off an excellent repast.
As is traditional, following grace a Loving Cup and a Rose Bowl was passed around under the guidance of our toastmaster for the evening, E. Kt. Steve Tamcken who, had previously greeted us all in full regalia as the Beadle of Candlewick Ward for the City of London. The toasts were duly given in particular to our presiding guest by the Commander of the Bodyguard E. Kt. Brian Francois:
"Captain Dick has been a stalwart of London Knights Templar since he joined Connaught Army and Navy Preceptory in 1982 some 38 years ago. His commitment to the Province and the Preceptories of which he is a member is unequalled and this year we have finally pinned him down to attend our dinner, for at the age of almost 91 he remains incredibly active and remains an enthusiastic sailor. Dick oozes leadership and command, and I would have hated to be in the shoes of any poor matelot who appeared before the Captains Table when Dick was in charge. It has even been said that his dear wife Olga pipes him aboard when he arrives home in the evening. It should be no surprise that he was Deputy Commander of the Bodyguard for a year and Commander for the following nine. He has over the years held almost every Office in the Province which I feel sure that the succession of Provincial Priors have greatly appreciated".
Then followed an amusing response full of anecdotes and heartfelt messages. After toasting the visitors there were a few closing remarks from our own Provincial Prior Rt. E. Kt. David Thompson and a Stirrup Cup. The whole event from catering to venue to seating plan and to wines was once more seamlessly organised by the Brian Francois and long may it continue to thrive, year on year.
We look forward to seeing you at the next one - something most definitely not to be missed.