I am delighted to tell you that we had a most successful visit from HRH the Earl of Wessex last Wednesday as part of his 2018 Tennis Challenge. This is his initiative to raise the profile of real tennis by playing on every court in the world in 2018, and to raise £2m for the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme.
We were only the second club that he has visited, after Cambridge where he went to university and learnt the game.
His visit was organised to coincide with the 20th anniversary of his formal opening of our club on 14 February 1998.
The Earl watched five schoolchildren having a coaching session with Ben. These are five of the kids who have participated in Chris Harland's junior sessions since September, and to which he is inviting further schools' involvement. The Earl then played three sets of doubles, with nine BRTC members, the first with juniors, the second with three chosen by raffle and the third with three members who gave substantial donations for the privilege. They were watched by a full dedans with viewing also from the galleries and upstairs.
We also "sold" seats, ran raffles and held a silent auction with several lots. In total we raised over £6,500, comprising some £4,600 from the auction and £1,900 from the sale of seats, the raffles, third set donations and other donations. This was a sum much larger than we had originally anticipated.
We will be putting more details and photographs on the website shortly. This should happen some time next week as we still await the photographs from the official photographer, via the DofE.
As you can imagine, there was a tremendous amount of planning went into this event, and I would again like to thank, in particular, Nick Ponsford, Claire Stacey, Chris Harland, Lindsey Henniker-Heaton and Jan Fuller for their help, together with other helpers and cake-bakers.
Kevin and Ben, as always, were stalwart supporters, Kevin marking on the day and Ben running the coaching session.
My thanks to all who helped and supported, to all who came and watched, gave donations, bought lots and so forth. And thank you finally, to the Earl of Wessex who made the whole day possible. We wish him well for the rest of the year.