Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation "Nothing great is easy", Captain Matthew Webb

03 Mar 2012The 2012 CS&PF Dinner

The 2012 CS&PF Dinner

The 2012 CS&PF Dinner was held in the Dover Town Hall.

In 2001 we could have held the CS&PF dinner in a large matchbox or Chaplin’s Restaurant in Dover.  It’s a small restaurant, and with only 6 swims in that first year, it would have been a small dinner.  Fast forward to 7 pm on Saturday 3rd March 2012 and Dover Town Hall was bursting at the seams with 253 guests in attendance for the 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th or 14th dinner depending who was lying to the MC, Cliff Golding, the most (Note: It was the tenth actual dinner – and that’s the truth!).

Two hundred and fifty three people!!  This was a brilliant turnout and at least 50 more than we had ever had before and included those who had travelled from as far away as Jersey, Guernsey, Ireland and America as well as all around the UK.  On arrival guests were greeted in the outer hall by an excellent exhibition of Channel memorabilia lovingly put together by solo Channel swimmer Frank Chalmers.   Being situated next to the bar ensured that practically everybody walked around the displays admiring old photos, pictures and artefacts including early swimming costumes.  Frank later regaled us with a channel swimming song he had penned and was very excited at the prospect of obtaining a pair of John Conningham-Rolls’ knitted swimming costumes from 1997 for his exhibition!

After an extraordinary number of mwah mwahs, man hugs and hands pressed firmly into hands, guests were eventually prized into their seats and the evening proper got underway. 

And that’s it really, not much to report.  Lah de dah.  Well, OK, not quite.  Between 7 pm and midnight when a still strong, if slightly wobbly, throng meandered slowly yet purposefully towards the White Horse for a nightcap, quite a lot happened actually:

First the invited guests were introduced including the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Anne Smith and her husband Councillor Mick Smith and Freda (yes, we see, she’s the leader of the pack – vroom, vroom!) Streeter and her husband, Alan.   Then the raffle was explained.  We had excellent goody bags from SwimTrek and the CS&PF and brilliant prizes in the main raffle including a flight across the channel in a light aircraft donated by Keith Hunt, a £500 1996 6 litre bottle of Chateau Kirwan donated by Tom Hudson and a one week Gozo long distance trip donated by Simon Murie and the SwimTrek team.

Dave Chisolm, solo channel swimmer and professional cartoonist had drawn a wonderful 5 foot long colour cartoon depicting an England to France channel crossing.  These formed the centre piece on each table and, on a first come first served basis, were sold through the evening.  28 were sold altogether and it’s a dead cert that Dave will be asked for many more copies once word gets around.

The chosen charity this year was the RNLI Dover, a very worthy cause.  Tickets were sold and everyone was very generous.  The raffle sales topped £1,185 which the CS&PF, in a fit of typical generosity (well, treasurer, Cathie Slevin, said,  “never mind the £200 we said we’d put in, why don’t we match the amount raised?”  A hastily convened emergency committee meeting agreed – nice one Cathie, nice one CS&PF)  doubled this amount which gave a total of £2,370.  After costs the print sales from Dave’s cartoon came to £265 bringing the overall total generated on the night to:  £2,635.  Brilliant effort all round, well done to everybody.

At the coffee and mints stage the second and very important part of the evening started.  Pilots were introduced, relay teams who swam last year were introduced and the monies they raised for charity were highlighted and then, a favourite part of the evening, the solo swimmers from 2011 were introduced.  What stories, what a great group of people.  The cheers rang loud and long as each swimmer stood up.  A story was told about their exploits on that one day last summer when they stepped out from the crowd and did something extraordinary.  Each swimmer deserved the cheers and applause they received but the loudest acclaim was left for the two swimmers who were introduced last, Liz Fry from America who, on her third attempt, finally achieved her dream of completing a two way solo channel swim and Roger Allsopp from Guernsey.  In this extraordinary, high achieving gathering the cheers for Roger rang long and loud as we all celebrated him becoming a world record holder as the oldest man, at 70 and a few months, to swim the English Channel solo.  Humble in his acceptance he made a great little speech and read out a poem to Freda specially written by Rebecca Simmons, another Guernsey channel swimmer.

Then we were onto the awards (it was a marathon night!).    The fastest, Nick Adams, the oldest, Roger Allsopp and the youngest, Lorcan Rowley whose gravity defying ascent to the stage was a tour de force, were predetermined.  The others were met with great cheers and much surprise by the recipients.  The stories surrounding the awards, and the winners, were humbling and inspiring as they are each year and, as the evening came to a close, everybody declared that they had had a great time and many aspiring solo channel swimmers went away inspired and in awe of the people they had met and heard about as they embark on their own journeys in pursuit of their dreams.

The following morning many very bleary eyed swimmers and more sensibly clad spectators assembled on the beach for the customary post dinner dip.  Swimmers ran in, dived in, slow motioned in and hangovers soon disappeared as the raw cold gnawed at their bones.  Some hardy souls did 20 minutes, some did 20 seconds.  I held the towels!

Thank you one and all for coming to our dinner.  You made it all worthwhile.  Thank you Kevin, Emma and Michelle for all the organising and hard work.  Thank you volunteers on the night for selling tickets.  Thank you Josh for a great slide show. Thank you, thank you.

Y’all come back next year y’hear? 

Sandettie Lightship Observations

11am, 19th January 2021

Water: 48.2 °F (9 °C)

Air: 48.9 °F (9.4 °C)

Wind Speed: 35.0 kn (64.8 km/h)

Wind Direction: WSW (250°)

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