28.06.23 The Clerk

The Coachmakers’ Banquet – Celebrating British Success during 100 Years of the Le Mans 24 Hours Race


“…..like a West End production…..”

“….extremely well organised….”

“A truly great evening…..”

“…..I enjoyed the pomp & circumstance of it immensely…..”

“Brilliantly organised and executed, it was indeed a night to remember.”

The words above are a small selection of the many accolades that guests have kindly sent to the Master, myself and to Liveryman Tate. They sum up an event that will live long in the memories of those who were present.

Photos of the event can be viewed here: https://philmccarthyphotography.smugmug.com/Company-of-Coachmakers-Guildhall-Banquet-June-2023/

These events don’t organise themselves and I should like to thank the following:

The Assistant Clerk for making the initial connection to the centenary year of the Le Mans 24 Hours Race that gave us the theme; the Master for going with it, Liveryman Tate for persuading and arranging for so many of his racing friends to support it, financially, materially and by being there on the night; Honorary Assistant Lesley Upham for sorting out the communications piece, particularly the Souvenir Booklet; the staff of the Guildhall for being so amenable and helpful when we first articulated our plan (you want to do what with a racing car?); The Cook and the Butler catering company for feeding and watering 400 guests on the night; the Assistant Clerk for seating the 400 guests in roughly the right places on the night; the Hornchurch Sea Cadets and 452 Sqn Air Cadets for supporting us during the early part of the evening; the London Banqueting Ensemble and the performers of the Dame Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation for entertaining us; Past Master Andrew Love and Liveryman Chris Mann for their generous donations to the prize draw, Toastmaster Ted Prior for keeping the show to time; our photographers, Phil and Nigel, for taking so many great photos, the sound and light guys from Light Motif and of course the 400 guests who attended on the night, without whom it would have just been a very well decorated empty hall.

The drivers’ interviews

Liveryman Christopher Tate interviews five times Le Mans winner Derek Bell MBE

Between courses during the meal, Liveryman Christopher Tate added much stardust to the evening by interviewing the Le Mans winning drivers who were the star guests of the night. They all had a tale to tell, in fact they all had many tales to tell and Christopher did a remarkable job to keep them more-or-less to time.

The first session saw him conduct the banqueting equivalent of a pit-lane walkabout talking to Jackie Oliver, Richard Atwood, Andy Wallace, Derek Warwick, Martin Brundle, and David Brabham. Standout moments included a very personal story from Martin Brundle as he explained how emotional he had been as he had strapped his son Alex, into the Zytek-Nissan LMP2 car he shared with him in 2012 just before Alex set off for his first night stint at la Sarthe; and then David Brabham stole the show with his own tale that included a very antipodean “Strewth Mate!”

The main event however, saw Christopher interview five times Le Mans winner Derek Bell MBE, on stage in a one-to-one (a la Parkinson) that lasted 15 minutes but could easily have gone on for an hour and still the audience would have wanted more. Eloquent, informative, entertaining and amusing: all of these words and more could be used to describe a memorable moment in Coachmaker history.

I think it’s fair to say that by now the Master was fit to burst, but there was more:

The Prize Draw

The Master Julian Leach presents the first prize to Liveryman David Barrett

The Prize Draw was held towards the end of the evening and raised £6,940.00 for the Charitable Trust and the prize winners were as follows:

1st Prize – Prototype No 4 of Omologato’s newly released ‘Centenaire’ watches, honouring the 100 Years of the Le Mans race won by Junior Warden David Barrett.
2nd Prize – two framed prints: “The Best of British” and “British Racing Green”, won by Liveryman Nick Reilly.
3rd Prize – Tea for 4 at The Ritz, won by Mrs Jacey Dias.
4th Prize – A signed copy of Ian Wagstaff’s book ‘The British at Le Mans’ AND a signed copy of Richard Williams new publication, ’One Hundred Years’, won by Liveryman Peter Dias
5th Prize – A signed copy of Richard Williams new publication, ’One Hundred Years’ won by Jacob Patton.

Coachmaker/Affiliated Service Units’ Persons of the Year

Also during the event the Master and the Lord Mayor Locum Tenens presented the winners of this year’s Coachmaker/Affiliated Service Units’ Persons of the Year. Each winner received a cheque for £250 and the winners were as follows:

From HMS BULWARK – Petty Officer Anthony King

From the Commando Helicopter Force – Petty Officer James Macmillan

From the Royal Dragoon Guards – Trooper Dante Rosenberg

From RAF Brize Norton – Sergeant Steve Gulliford

And in summary

It was indeed a very special evening and to badly misquote a bit of Shakespeare:

This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Coachmakers’ Banquets shall ne’er go by,
From that day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered—
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers and sisters;
For they that day did supp’ with me
Shall be my brother and sister; be they ne’er so vile,
That day shall gentle their condition;
And the ladies and gentlemen in England then a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not there,
And hold their reputations cheap whiles any speaks
That supp’d with us upon our 2023 Guildhall Banquet day.