As social secretary for the Lawn Tennis Writers’ Association, it’s my duty to organise our annual awards lunch normally attended by well over 170 guests, and which I somehow manage to organise almost single-handedly. Considering I have been doing this for several years, this is half expected but even though I now have a simple template to follow no two years are the same. Seemingly every year coughs up an inordinate number of unpredictable problems.

Normally I start organising the lunch half way through the year after venue and dates (usually Wimbledon’s Centre Court debenture lounge) are decided. FMC, Wimbledon’s catering company is contacted for menu selections and costs. The chore of choosing appropriate dishes is passed on to our treasurer Barry Newcombe who has an amazing knack of choosing the right dishes. Time is also spent persuading and cajoling friends and contacts to donate prizes for our charity raffle and auction although thankfully several prizes are now  what I refer to as ‘repeats’. Editing and printing the lunch’s programme is another labour of love with the final edition handed over to committee member Barry Millns (Sky TV) for proof reading.

During the weeks leading up to the lunch I always carry with me wherever I go a small note-book and constantly jot down notes on everything that needs my attention as well as making a list names of members and guests attending. This information is later transferred to my computer but the notebook and its contents play a vital role in my one man band organisation and fondly nicknamed as my bible. Imagine my shock horror of discovering the book had gone missing during the 02 ATP tour finals, which had me searching frantically everywhere trying to remember where on earth it could have been left. Thankfully it was eventually found on one of the settees in the media restaurant, I mean where else would you expect me to leave it? Panic over!

Generally speaking most of the guests are from the great and good of the world of tennis and last year’s lunch was no exception. During the immediate days leading up the lunch, much time is spent sending and replying to hundreds of emails mostly dealing with trivial matter concerning parking, start times and what to where!. Even our chairman Mike Dickson mentioned this in his welcome speech. On the day of the lunch texts are non stop and a number of last-minute changes and requests have to be dealt with. Fortunately guests joining my table are quite happy to be looked after by friends who act as a replacement host.

This year’s award winners were brothers, Jamie and Andy Murray, although as expected Andy was unable to attend but his ‘International Tennis Award’ was fortunately accepted by his agent Matt Gentry on his behalf while Jamie was presented with his ‘Services to Tennis Award’ and even gave a short and amusing speech. He also helped out with the raffle picking out winning tickets with the help of Sky’s tennis presenter, Marcus Buckland. At one point, the winner of a brand new Kai Nishikori endorsed Wilson tennis racket shyly admitted to Jamie she had never played tennis. To everyone’s amazement Jamie proceeded to give a quick lesson on how to grip a tennis racket which was received with roars of  laughter. .

Marcus also did a brilliant job as auctioneer and had everyone laughing at his endless stream of funny jokes and amusing quips – far better than paying a fortune for a guest speaker. Altogether over £4,000 was raised for Greenhouse Sports charity which provides free sports coaching for underprivileged kids.

Judging from the number of emails received, the lunch went down well, what a relief!? Delighted to have put that one bed!!



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