On Thursday 2nd November, we celebrated a sell-out Vincent’s Club 1863 London Dinner at the Waldorf Hilton.
Two hundred and fifty current Resident Members, Alumni, friends and partners joined in a Dark Blue celebration of sport and one hundred and sixty years of our Club’s heritage.
Hon. Life Chairman, Lord Butler of Brockwell, President of the Club in 1960, joined current President, Matt Williams, and a further dozen Past Presidents as Vincent’s came out in numbers to share in old friendships and make a few new ones.
Special note went to Brian Venner, a Vincent from 1954, who coxed the Blue Boat in 1956! Also in the room from OUBC were Dark Blue greats Gavin Stewart and Ollie Cook as well as this year’s OUBC President Louis Corrigan who, after coxing Isis last year, will be looking to emulate Brian in next year’s Boat Race at the helm of the Blue Boat.
“One thing that binds us all together in this room, is that sport has been a formative part of our lives, and we have lifelong friendships through it.”
Ice hockey, skiing, hockey and football. A Ryan Millsap sponsored Lancers table with members of the NFL Academy and a former Miami Dolphin, Rugby Union and League, OURFC President Sophie Shams and thirty members of the OUABC including current Club President David Seiferth, Frank Copplestone, Tim Fell, Chris Mack and Paul Newton. Athletics, swimming, water polo, equestrian, lacrosse, Eton fives and apologies for any missed!!
The Lowes and Edward J. George flew in especially from North America to attend and current VATC Chairman Ian Ritchie was joined by his predecessors Melville Guest OBE and Sir Ivor Roberts.
After an introduction by Matt Williams, who spoke of the unique thread and friendship of our Members, Robin Butler gave a keynote address and a toast to the Club where he also gave thanks and recognition the past near decade of female membership and the contribution of their membership as well as a touching tribute to Simon Offen, who we sadly lost earlier this year.
“One thing that binds us all together in this room is that sport has been a formative part of our lives, and we have lifelong friendships through it."
"Now, as you all know, Vincent’s is extending that benefit to those who might not otherwise have access to it through our outreach - Inspiring Sport. We will hear tonight of the work of the members of Vincent’s are now doing through scholarship awards, coaching and mentoring. We can be very proud of that work."
After the main course, ITV’s F1 commentator, James Allen, introduced four outstanding Vincent’s Awards Winners for a panel discussion that proved a real highlight of the evening and brought Robin’s message alive.
Hillary (St Anne's) is the Vincent’s Geoff Riddell Scholarship for Team Sports Awardee. A blind athlete, she has played for both the Canadian men’s and women’s blonde soccer teams. She is also an Oxford Ice Hockey Blue (sighted team) and this year, her penalty in the dying seconds of the Varsity Match, gave the women their first win in four years.
Michael (St Anne’s) is a Vincent’s Fernside Scholarship Awardee. Still only 19, repeated the form that saw him win the England Athletics U20 & U23 Open Championships in Chelmsford in August, throwing 69.73m to take the silver medal in his first UK Senior Championships. Michael subsequently travelled to Jerusalem a week later to take part in the U20 European Championships and won bronze. In doing so, winning Britain’s first international championship medal in the javelin for 15 years.
Maranga (Keble), is this year’s Vincent’s Sir Roger Bannister Scholarship Awardee - one of our most prestigious awards, in this, the 70th anniversary year of Sir Roger’s sub-four minute mile at Iffley Road. Maranga is studying for a DPhil at Keble College. His last gasp finish at this year’s Varsity secured a memorable win for the Dark Blue Men. Having broken the 400m Varsity record this year, Maranga has been competing in the Diamond League in the 400m hurdles and with a bronze medal as well at this year’s UK Athletics Championships, has sights set on Paris next year.
Roberto (University), a Vincent’s Fernside Scholarship Awardee, is captain of this year’s Men’s Boxing Varsity team and a multiple GB gold medallist and is unbeaten in five years. Roberto is arguably Oxford’s finest ever boxer, so good that he’s yet to find an opponent from Cambridge who will get into the ring with him. Special thanks to him for coming as he is fighting tonight in Essex and sadly couldn’t enjoy the dessert.
All of these remarkable young athletes held the room’s attention, with James Allen, who once commentated the last twenty minutes of the Saô Paolo Grand Prix by looking out of his window when the power went down in his commentary position, coping admirably with a similar loss on mic power!
Hillary shared how she scored her remarkable penalty against Cambridge in the dying moments of this year’s Varsity Match, Michael gave a live demonstration (minus javelin) of the technique that has made him GB Number One, Maranga shared how we he balances a full on academic programme and athletics career in one of the toughest track events, the 400m Hurdles, and Roberto gave us a showman’s glimpse of what he’s going to be like when he gives his first world title press conference in Las Vegas.
The VAs showed what the spirit of sport is really like and what inspiring sport looks like - they uplifted the room and the evening and we are excited at the prospect of what these remarkable scholar athletes are going to achieve.
The evening ended with a special note from Dinner Chairman, Andy Hobart, and a recognition for Past President, Reg Clark.
View a full gallery of pictures here.