Members Centenary Celebration

On the evening of Saturday 18 June, over 160 members and guests came together to celebrate the 100 years since Rye Lawn Tennis Club was founded in 1922.

Earlier in the day, more than 40 of them had participated in some friendly but competitive padel and tennis matches, kindly organised by Ewan Hopkins and Suzy Larkin.

Playing on the old and the new state-of-the-art glass-backed court, the padel was a relaxed affair with the emphasis on fun. Claire Myatt came out triumphant after four closely contested rounds.  Player of the day went to “Molly’s Mum” – who played out of her skin to challenge some of the best players in the club.

The eight grass courts, freshly mown and lined by Adam for the day, looked spectacular in the sunshine and played beautifully. In group three, new member James Andrews was drafted in at the last minute to partner Phil Allard and they won convincingly, despite never having met each other before. Ellie and Steve Cochrane were delighted to pip the Gorringes, the Hoffmans and the Whites in group two. In group one, home team Vic Lowe and Scott Brotherton came out on top against two members of the ladies Hurlingham first team partnered by Simon Crispin and Freddie Menzies, Sarah Walsh partnered by Phil Harper and Bob Thomson playing with Luke Davies.

The evening event got off to a strong start with a choice of two cocktails specially designed for the club to celebrate the Centenary. The more cautious opted for the gin-based Centenary Fizz, the more adventurous went for the Fifteen Love Martini … The plain reckless tried both!

Designed by a new member of the club with extensive bar skills, he and his partner used 30 kilograms of ice, squeezed over 100 lemons, along with more ingredients than can be listed to make individual cocktails for every single one of the 160 guests.  If you would like to try your hand at re-creating them, you can download a list of the ingredients and instructions here.

As the guests drifted into the marquee, they were blown away by the fantastic decorations created by Amy Maynard, ably assisted by Rupert Parkes. Over 250 hand-sprayed tennis balls were strung along one side of the marquee, with ‘tennis ball wreaths’ hung along the other side, stunning flowers on every table and fairy lights complemented by green and white lanterns hung throughout.

Shortly after eight, Katie Ashby – supported by her wonderful Pink Kitchen team – announced that the broccoli was ready and Chris Gorringe took the microphone to give us a completely unique and entertaining version of grace written by a past chairman of the AELTC back in 1946.

After tucking into the superbly tender beef, broccoli and new potatoes, and piling up our plates with irresistible chocolate brownies and Pavlova, it was time for our guest speaker Mike Bax to take the floor. These are just some of the things that guests said in emails following the event.

“The evening was absolutely topped by the terrific speech by Mike Bax. He was a show stopper and had us all in fits.” 

“We were certainly blessed by hearing one of the best after-dinner speeches I had heard!”

If you were unable to attend, or would like to re-acquaint yourself with what Mike said, you can download a written version of his speech here.

Mike also launched the club’s centenary silent auction with one lot kindly donated by Jonny Leslie: four tickets to 101 Dalmatians in Regents Park for 21 July – before the silent auction finishes. You can see all the lots, as organised by Amanda Hoffman, and put in a bid on the Galabid website.

Then it was time to take to the dance floor. The band, which included another new club member – Jon Turner – on bass guitar, kept large numbers of people dancing to the bitter end. Even our resident virtuoso, Reg, gave them the full thumbs up.

There is no doubt everyone enjoyed themselves tremendously … maybe a little too much according to CJ Stephenson, who commented, “I then saw some sights on the dance floor that will take some un-seeing!”

Fortunately, we had Ed Marsh there, who stepped in the last minute to record the whole event on film. There are a few of the best provided below.  You can click through to see them all here. NB If you don’t want your photograph featured, just contact Clare Crawshay-Williams and she will take it down (


Tennis & Padel

As well as everyone having a great time, there were several emails from guests that confirmed what really made the evening so special.

First, it was a night when a large number of members came together – members who play different sports, members who play at different times around the week, long-term members, new members, members of all standards and members who rarely play at all … but all of us felt we belonged to a club that we were proud to celebrate.

Second, as one guest astutely pointed out, the event will hopefully help to inspire the energy and unity needed to secure the future of the club.

First, there was a brilliant atmosphere in the club as soon as you walked into the room. There was a whole range of faces – old (ish!), young (ish), guests, regulars – and everyone was plainly having a great time. 

What a successful evening on Saturday – it was a memorable night to celebrate what the club stands for and inject some future commitment from members and why it is important. There seems to be a new energy and hope that this can encourage a new wave of members. Well done to the team for a wonderful evening, I know how hard it is to produce and look effortless, which it certainly isn’t!  

It was a huge team effort. Just shows what you can do when people pull together and roll up their sleeves. Many thanks to you all for making it such a successful evening.

In particular, huge thanks must go to Clare Crawshay-Williams for spearheading and running the event.

Special thanks also to …

Ewan Hopkins for organising the padel
Suzy Larkin for organising the tennis
Freddie Menzies for spectacular tennis courts, sorting out the marquee, selecting the wine and parking
Adam Stunt for superb tennis courts and parking
Denys and Colette at the bar
Katie Ashby and her team for the catering
Amy Maynard and Rupert Parkes for decorating the marquee and clubhouse
Zoë Richmond-Watson, who sadly couldn’t attend, for too many things to list
Amanda Hoffman for organising the silent auction
Mike Bax for speaking and the auction
Chris Gorringe for grace and his speech
Alex Pick for putting together the band and Jon Turner for playing
2inTents for providing the marquee at such a reasonable cost
Sharon Massey for huge amounts of brilliant administrative support
Olli Hopkins for making it possible to book through the website
Ed Marsh for taking the excellent photographs

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