Saturday, 7 December 2019

Happy Holidays to Everyone

The Rotary year ended in typical New Dawn style with a bang at the annual Christmas party at Marks Park on Wednesday.
     It was a fantastic occasion enjoyed by some 70 guests, all happy for the opportunity to share quality fellowship with fellow members and guests.
     This was by far the biggest end-of-year party yet with 25 members attending, outnumbered by the guests!
Audrey Gatawa and Zena Kimaro enjoying the party. Audrey is planning to join New Dawn
     As is almost always the case, it was a team effort where everybody could contribute in some way or another.
     Thanks must go to Carol Stier and Joan Donet for decorating the normally rather soulless hall and transforming it into a festive wonderland.

Joan Donet at the Christmas tree surrounded by gifts for the Pink Elephant raffle
     Graham Donet was, as usual, a masterful Master of Ceremonies and spent the day with me in the kitchen preparing 5 chickens, 7kg of roast potatoes, two large dishes of turkey stuffing, Yotam Ottolenghi's recipe for roasted carrots with a sweet-and-sour dressing (Google it if you're looking for the recipe, it's a fantastic dish for the Christmas table), gravy, cranberry sauce, two Tiramisu's (mine) and a gigantic trifle (Graham). It's exhausting work.
Paula Nagy, John Vink, Rudi and Peet Kruger and Rob and Sam Deverneuil enjoying the party
     Lucille Blumberg prepared three sides of salmon single handedly, also a labour of love. Ian Widdop provided two Weber-roasted chickens for those who are not crazy about turkey. Carol also provided festive Pavlovas and Dave Marshall (or more likely his partner Hannah Bartlett, but who knows!) two fridge tarts.
Guests at the food table with the roasted carrot salad in the foreground
The enormous bowl of delicious trifle
     Amina Frense arrived with two salads (beetroot & feta and watermelon) and roasted butternut and Judy Sligcher brought roasted vegetables and two pecan pies. Helene Bramwell contributed two 5 litre tubs of ice cream and brought along no fewer than 15 guests. Helene also provided many prizes for the pink elephant raffle. What a contribution!
Dave Marshall tackles his turkey with the other carvers in the background
Dave won a beautiful set of crystal whisky tumblers donated by Helene Bramwell. Here he's with Amina Frense, his partner Hannah Bartlett, Hillary Biller, who judged the contrition and Jankees Sligcher
     Carl Chemaly arranged two cases of premium wine from his mate Sean Robinson at Ultra Liquors in Parkview that Marks Park allowed us to place on the tables.
     Judy Symons provided Vichyssoise soup as a starter and there was plenty to go round despite one of her batches not coming out well. Everybody agreed that it was delicious.
President Judy Sligcher inducting Paul Channon as the latest member of New Dawn
     Paul Channon, who was inducted as the newest New Dawn member at the meeting last week, arrived with boxes full of copies of the recipe book Gem, which were distributed around the tables for members and guests to take home. The books were donated by the Alexandra Literary Trust which works with educating children (our kinda guy!) in the township bordering Sandton.
Mike and Frances MacDonald getting into the Christmas spirit with Mike's mom, Heather MacDonald
Nic Stier belting out a Sinatra song
Richard Jones added to the atmosphere against the odds
     Mike MacDonald arranged the musician, Richard Jones, a veritable one-man band who lit up the evening despite truly atrocious acoustics in the hall.
Carol and Nic Stier in festive mood
     Apart from the decorations and desserts Carol also provided the services of her husband, Nic, who gave a very well-received performance of Sinatra songs (and one Christmas carol).
     Once all the money is in, we should be looking at clearing just over R35 000 for the evening, money that has been raised for The Link Trust as part of our ongoing support for their laudable efforts in one-on-one extra literacy and numeracy teaching for young children.
Megan Maynard at the dinner
     Megan Maynard, the driving force behind The Link, told movingly about a pupil who scored a hopeless16% at the beginning of the year. The manager of the team of volunteers who runs the programme at the school, was asked to attend the end-of-year school assembly where the child was awarded with a prize for being top of the class, with a 97% mark.
     She also told the story of a child found soon after birth in a dustbin who was taken up in a children's home and sent to school. Her path crossed that of a volunteer from The Link and she is now also a star at school despite all the hardships.
     That's truly helping to change lives.
The five turkeys lined up for carving
Rob Deverneuil tackles his turkey with obvious glee
     Dave Marshall won the turkey carving competition against some stiff opposition from the four other carvers. He was judged the best by Hillary Biller, food editor of The Sunday Times and one of Helene Bramwell's guests, who remarked that it was obvious that he was born in the years after the Second World War, as his turkey was carved in such a way that he could feed 40 people with it, while the other competitors could probably only feed about 12 each.
     She also said one could see he's an engineer by how neatly his carved turkey was displayed on the plate.

Judy and Jankees Sligcher enjoying the dinner
     The auction raised R11000. Many thanks to Adele Dabbs for donating a week in her holiday home in St. Francis Bay on the East Cape Coast, for which  I paid the bargain basement price of R6500.
Ronnie Kasrils signing the book that Nic Stier bought at the auction
     Ronnie Kasrils donated two signed copies of his latest volume of memoirs, Catching Tadpoles. Nic Stier and Carl Chemaly each paid R1000 for a copy. Hillary Biller bid R800 for the magnificent special edition of Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa. This, along with numerous other books such as Zapiro cartoons, were donated by Jacana Media, Helene paid R1000 for three books on Nelson Mandela donated by Lucille Blumberg and Adele successfully bid on a magnum of Webersberg Cabernet Sauvignon and a coffee table book on the wines of Burgundy in France. These were donated by Julian Nagy.
Lucille Blumberg got good news
     The evening was crowned with the news that Prof. Lucille Blumberg, our resident virologist and deputy director of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of the Witwatersrand, her alma mater.
Jacana Media's Desmond with Peta Thomas and Amina Frense and Bridget Impey, joint owner of the publishing house
Peta Thomas with the bakkie full of books donated by Jacana Media to the
 Humanitarian Centre
     While the New Dawn Rotary year has come to an end, the work continues. Special mention must be made of Amina Frense and Peta Thomas' efforts in distributing books donated by the publisher Jacana Media as part of the Rotary Books of the World project.
Breaking bread with Ronnie Kasrils
Ronnie Kasrils with Jankees Sligcher at his book launch at Love Books on Tuesday evening
    Jacana are also the publisher for Ronnie Kasrils, who has recently completed the third volume of his memoirs, this time dedicated to his formative years as a budding revolutionary.
     Amina and Peta took a huge consignment of donated books to the Rotary Humanitarian Distribution Centre in Bedfordview, from where they will be distributed to schools and many other institutions. It is a massive contribution.
Carin Holmes and Karlien Kruger celebrate Christmas. My thanks to Jenine Coetzer for taking most of the lovely photos
     Back to the meeting last week: The Soweto Community Corps, a group allied to the now defunct Rotary Club of Soweto, finally surfaced and five members paid a visit to the club for the Wednesday morning New Dawn meeting. None of them could attend the Christmas dinner, but it was an opportunity for us to forge closer ties with them.
     They are all keen to contribute and could very easily form the beginning of either a new Soweto club, or a satellite club to New Dawn until they can get a club going.
Rick and Caryll Ackroyd were guests at the dinner and asked if we would
 publicise their club (Northcliff) Wine Tasting and Dinner Fundraiser 
     And that's it for the New Dawn year. The first meeting is on 22 January next year, but keep an eye on the WhatsApp group for further notices.
     A Thought for the Weeks Ahead: It is impossible to live pleasurably without living prudently, honourably and justly; or to live prudently, honourably and justly without living pleasurably. - Epicurus (c. 341-270BCE)

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