Goethe said that “love can do much but duty more”. This simple saying encapsulates my feelings about many things, but none more than what I think is my duty.
I admit I am a very lucky man. I may have ridden my luck and I have certainly earned my luck, but overall fortune has smiled on me. And it is from this privileged perch that some years ago I decided that it was time to use my position for some a somewhat more altruistic aim. Once these gates are opened, the flood of information is both bewildering, humbling and it has to be said not a little depressing. Need is not the issue, that list is endless, and I do mean endless. The choice is the issue, you feel that once you have chosen someone to support, you have somehow betrayed the rest. So it was with some trepidation, that after much research, I joined forces with the Lady Taverners. In a wonderfully English twist, the Lady Taverners owe their existence to Lady Thatcher. Why? Tradition has it that every Prime Minister was made an honorary of the Lord Taverners, a ferociously all male club. Whereas us French would humbly submit to as you English call a Force Majeure, the good Lords create a female version of themselves; The Lady Taverners. In all my years in England, I have proudly assimilated many things; cricket I can say with total confidence is not one of them. So the Lords were never destined to tempt me. The Ladies however have some very simple aims; to raise as much as possible for sport and recreation for young people with special needs including the provision of specially adapted minibuses. And so with no excuses for the abysmal but obvious pun, the Van Blanc appeal was born.
It works quite simply, every now and then; we close a Brasserie down for the night, hold an auction with prizes begged borrowed or stolen by the management and the Ladies, lay on copious amounts of Champagne and some lovely nibbles and just sit back and let things happen. For a few weeks every year, we also add a discretionary 50p to our bills so that the guests can join in.
The result, and that is why the Lady Taverners are so wonderful, is that every penny (and I mean every last single solitary penny) goes towards raising the thousands of pounds needed for the specially adapted buses.
I was lucky enough to be there when we handed over the first bus in September 2009 to the Redway Special School in Milton Keynes, lucky enough to be shown what it meant to the children themselves, their carers and even their parents.
As I said at the top of the page, I’m just lucky.
I am left to thank the wondrous Lady Taverners and all the staff at Brasserie Blanc who work so hard to make this happen and of course you, my guests, without whom this would not be possible.