Another cracking night was enjoyed by all who attended the BTS, British Tunnelling Society, annual Gala Dinner last Friday evening at the familiar venue in the heart of London. Again the Porter Tun dining room of the The Brewery accommodated some 800 diners with the colourful gowns of the lady tunnelling professionals, wives and partners providing the splash of brilliant colour among the men in their black ties and tuxedos.
TunnelTalk again sponsored the professional photographer for the evening and there are more than 300 photos to browse and order for your own personal album. To help with browsing, we have categorized the Gallery in sections through the evening (Table 1).
A change of format took all diners by surprise and left the details of an interesting speech by current BTS Chairman Roger Bridge largely unnoticed. Bridge began his welcoming address at the start of the dining room experience when many were still finding seats, greeting guests and networking between tables. For Bridge this was his last official engagement as Chairman at a BTS Dinner and he had plenty to say about the current state of the Society, its development over the past three years and its prospects for the coming three years. Unfortunately the audience was not expecting a speech at that time, and as a BTS member guests remarked “he had a lot of interesting things to say” and said that lack of attention was a “pity – a waste of effort”. Perhaps Bridge will repeat the detail of his speech when he addresses the Society’s 2016 AGM on Thursday 19 May when he leaves after his three year term and hands over the Chair to current Treasurer and Vice Chair Mark Leggett, with Ivor Thomas appointed as Treasurer, Vice Chair and Chairman in waiting for the 2019 AGM.
The chefs and kitchen of The Brewery again came up trumps with an excellent menu. Delivery between courses however provided time for guests to network, meet and greet at adjoining tables and seek out friends and colleagues at separate tables. The occasion lived up to the BTS reputation for being an active society with members ready to network and discuss business at every opportunity.
Following the meal, Master of Ceremonies John Scholey, taking charge once again as BTS Dinner MC, called the room to order for the after dinner entertainment, which this year was comedian Henning Wehn, a German national now home-based and with an established successful career in the UK. By all accounts, Wehn was thoroughly entertaining. “A little blue at times” as one of the diners noted “but very funny indeed” and “excellent” as many commented. Let us know on Feedback of the more memorable laughs, if not too blue for publication.
One note of disappointment was that, instead of celebrating a win for London and the BTS to host the ITA General Assembly and World Tunnel Congress (WTC) in 2019, it was commiserations all round and preparations to travel to Italy for WTC2019. BTS launched its candidature to host the ITA and WTC in 2019 at the 2015 BTS Dinner last year but it was Italy’s tunnelling society SIG that took the prize for Naples as the venue and as a close first to London’s second at the ITA General Assembly in San Francisco in May 2016. In the meantime, the ITA General Assembly and WTC2017 will convene in Bergen, Norway, next year; and in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in 2018.
The BTS however remains committed to the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association (ITA) as the Member Nation society for UK. It has supported three Presidents of the Association to date - Sir Alan Muir Wood, Founding President 1974–1977 and Honorary Life Time President; Colin Kirkland 1989–1992 and Martin Knights 2007–2010 - and has also hosted the General Assembly and its conference in the UK three times, the last in 1991, and one of them as an emergency stand in when the elected host society needed to pull out. There are also several BTS members vitally active on the Committees and Working Groups of the ITA.
Ahead of these WTC events, BTS friends, colleagues, partners, wives and husbands will meet again at the 2017 BTS Dinner next May. Always in May and always the Friday evening of the first May public holiday week and again at The Brewery.
See you all there and then!