GCA ‘Ladies’ Race Day and AGM 2010
To a background of collapsing financial institutions and markets, the Gasket Cutters Association held their annual Race Day at Nottingham. Was this Desperation perhaps..? A need to re-arrange the deck-chairs before slipping beneath the waves..?
Well not quite, the Ladies Day is a great event in our Calendar and strange as it may seem, October has given us more pleasant sunshine over the years than the golf day has in the middle of June!
It was also odd to consider then that not only had we beaten the weather again but that gambling on horses might represent a better bet than owning shares in a bank. There were no persons observed throwing themselves under the hooves however, my selections were hampered by something – probably a significant lack of ability.
If you are reading this wondering what you would get for a relatively small outlay, please let me enlighten you. We met at Nottingham Plaza Hotel and then transported to the Race Course via luxury Coach; at the course we have a private suite with balcony overlooking the finishing post and with a view of the entire course. The parade ring is also close by and your choice of horse flesh can be viewed prior to the addition of a jockey and will hopefully confirm your belief that the chosen one will romp home on very long odds! Next up on the day is coffee and biscuits as we settled down followed by Champagne and/or orange juice with canapés as we warmed up towards lunch.
By now several people will have consulted form guides, the Course racing card (part of your package) Mystic Meg and Russell Grant, next stop those early bets so step outside the room for your own Tote desk or downstairs to the on course bookmakers as the inclination takes you. We then welcome a man of the Turf who takes us through the form with a particular slant on the Nottingham going as well as those horses who have form and those that do not.
After some official business we sat down to a very good three course luncheon with wine and followed by coffee and mints, which is a great chance to get to know your fellow members and guests while consuming vast quantities of food and alcohol. Racing starts around 1.30 and this year we enjoyed a full programme of eight races rather than the more normal seven and even if you have never placed a bet in your life you would find it so easy that in no time at all you will smelting the family silver or wondering why you go to work when winning is so easy!
Long after you wish you had kept your shirt and wondering if they use gaskets in Kathmandu there is the comforting thought that there is a complimentary bar running until shortly after the last race, so why worry? I decided long ago to stop wasting money and time on the horses and go straight to the bar! What? Still hungry – never fear there is afternoon tea just to keep you rolling along!
Now that is a great day out!
Why don’t you treat some of your staff to a day out?
What about some of your Customers? Think that is daft? Well Harrisons, Novus and BG Group have done it, so, could you? Anyway I know you want to hear more about the day.
Our day did not herald the greatest weather however despite some showers we were once again able to watch some good racing from the balcony without the need for oilskins and thermals. As we settled down it was obvious that a good time was in progress as the buzz of conversation grew and we met old and new friends. The ladies without exception had taken the event as their own with a variety of wonderful outfits and hats that really does makes the day; as in previous years Novus presented a veritable bevy of beauties including the lovely Markina Ambrosia, a late replacement for last year’s honorary girl, Gavinia Spitmore-Smith. Luckily the table was more attractively represented by Ann Stobbs and Jayne Mann from Novus with guests Jan Grieve and Lyn Weichart. Not to be outdone Keith Shepherd hosted the Harrison contingent that included Debbie from Cardiff (not Dallas), Keith’s sister Elaine who is part of the Manchester operation and Keith’s Mum, the veritable Rose Kennedy of the Shepherd dynasty; it was my great pleasure to meet her and I hope she enjoyed the day. Keith Payne was attended by his chief Lady in Waiting, Penny and two delightful hand maidens in the very acceptable form of Sam and Tracey who went on to be the life and soul of the V-Seal table and made the day for Alan Bates, Trevor Ford and Mark Birks. It was also great to see John Kirk and Simon Winfield supporting the event and enjoying it.
The race meeting is also the GCA AGM and this year proceedings were kept to a minimum with information provided to those interested rather than as a general presentation. The main business of the day was to re-elect Keith Payne to the Committee and elect 2 new committee members Sandy McEwen of William Johnston and Jill Kirk of J Flex. We also said goodbye to existing members as Richard McKnight gracefully bows out into retirement and Ken Stroud finally hangs up his committee boots as he feels that retirement has taken him away from the necessary contact with the industry. Both Richard and Ken will still be active in our social events and we look forward to seeing them there.
Following a near record time for the AGM of just under 15 minutes every one was ready for a most enjoyable lunch (my main course was last seen romping home last in the 2.30 at Catterick) and following cheese and biscuits we got on to the serious business of enjoying the days real event, the racing.
Here my personal failings get the better of me and I wisely elected to leave the betting to Angela who proceeded to complete the day in a winning way, something I have never managed to do, either by following good advice or completely ignoring it. As always there were winners and losers but smiles were everywhere and that is what counts. I would also like to thank Keith and Penny Payne for their company which was the icing on an already great day for me.
As a measure of the day’s quality, when the time came to leave it seemed to be such a pity and anti climax, well at least there was the coach to take us back to the hotel thus avoiding the need to drive when emotionally unfit or take the abstinence vow. The evening is not organised but most race-goers wisely stay overnight leaving them free to take the party onto the streets of Nottingham. This year’s revelry took in an excellent Indian meal, several bars and the local casino. For me the evening was over after the meal as the excitement and day’s liquid consumption finally caught up and overtook me. I thoroughly enjoyed the setting, the event and the great people who attended. I am not alone in that sentiment having received a warm thank you from Alan Bates which was greatly appreciated; it was good to see him and I sincerely hope to see him at future events.
To finish I would like to give my thanks to Paul and Julie for their organisation and to every-one who came along to make the day special.