LLG's Honorary Members Lunch

Publish date: 24/08/2017

John Emms provides an amusing and delightful account of the Honorary Members Lunch held at the Queens Hotel, Leeds.

The other day I was waiting for a lift to Leeds. Why? Read on. Offers had come from Roger Bowden (Law Soc Local Government Group Chair 2000/1) and Helen Liddar (Solicitors in Local Government Chair 2005/6) (note clues as to my destination...), so we had decided to meet at my house and travel together. A phone call from Roger, on his way from Preston. His satnav didn't know where he was. Some terse questions about where he thought he had got to convinced me it did know where he was. Clearly, being based in Lancashire, and discovering itself descending the eastern slopes of the Pennines, it had feigned confusion while putting him firmly on the road back to Manchester. I suggested he concentrate on dragging his satnav reluctantly to Leeds, while I waited for Helen, who duly arrived. It seems that Oxfordshire satnavs, though unashamedly southern softies, are less fussy. Or possibly just more submissive.

Anyway - our destination. Those of you who attended the glitz and glamour of the LLG awards night at the Queens Hotel in lovely Leeds in November may be interested to learn of a more recent event at that venue. Then again, you may not but don't assume that'll stop me. I am referring to the less glitzy but, let's be controversial, far more significant sixth annual lunch of LLG's honorary members. 'Who?' I hear a few of the youngster's query. Honorary members are those no longer in local government (mainly, but not exclusively, retired) who have been recognised by LLG or one of its predecessors, as having given substantial service to the organisation. At the last count, there were sixty of us in total, following a few recent appointments and, sadly, a sudden spate of losses: Harry Sales (Local Government Legal Society Chairman 1950), Alan Mundy (LGLS Chairman 1965) and Forbes Watson (LGLS Treasurer 1966-9) all died in the last few months.

The lunch flips between London and the provinces, with the treat of a visit to Yorkshire being saved until July this year. Twenty-seven managed to get there, ranging from Roger Jefferies (LGLS Chairman 1973-75) to George Curran (SLG Chair 2007-8). In fact, fourteen ex-chairs were there in total. The rest were a bevy who between them had been vice-chairs, treasurers, secretaries, press officers, international relations officers, long-term branch secretaries and a variety of other functions, some having held several roles, often enough simultaneously. Though I think only Dennis Hall (SLG Chair 2003-4) was mad enough to stay on as branch secretary while also being national vice-chair and then chair. Oh, and me, of course - vague dogsbody for twenty plus years. We came from all over the country - Carlisle, Newcastle, Swansea, remotest Norfolk, the West Sussex coast, a handful dragged out of London and even one from Leeds. Though unfortunately neither the West Country nor the Isle of Wight could make it this year.

The Queens proved to be a successful venue; and not only because they provided complimentary concierge parking for me - there are sometimes advantages to being disabled. On the other hand, I can also say that they stole from the Old Mill at Brighouse the record for steepest access ramp in my experience. Anyway...

As it happens, the venue isn't necessarily the major issue. If I may quote Nigel Roberts (SLG Chair 2001-2), though I haven't asked his permission:

"Just for a few hours, I felt again the comradeship and camaraderie that kept me sane during my time in local government. The only thing that matters is that we all get to sup at the same table again. To that extent, the quality and location of the venue and the quality of the scoff are utterly irrelevant."

How true. But poor Nigel nearly didn't make it, after the vagaries of station parking caused him to miss his train and have to come hurtling by car from the West Midlands.

Anyway, comradeship and camaraderie to me sum up how working with colleagues from all over the country felt - though there must have been some hard travail, too. The lunch is an opportunity to keep in touch with old friends and colleagues, which is very pleasant, but also for the different generations to meet each other. Stewart Ashurst (LSLGG Chairman 1986/7) once said: "All that's in the memory box is laughter, alcohol and gossip" - but I'm still sure it isn't a question of selective memory, not least because all generations seem to agree.

Next year's venue is under discussion, and I'm hopeful this event will continue for years - not least to allow the very few honorary members who haven't managed it yet to get to one. Station car-parks and satnavs permitting, of course.

For a list of attendees including their last employing authority and roles in LLG, SLG, LGLS & LGG click here

Photo left to right

Helen Liddar, Peter Rhodes, Roger Bowden, Nigel Roberts, Graham Cooper, Peter Urwin, Pat Holding, John Emms

Photo left to right

John Croxen, Ian Cartwright, John Hunter, Felicity Hildred, Ron Fenney, Sheri Holland

Photo left to right

Brian Walker, Ian Spafford, George Curran, Dennis Hall, Eddy Cowen, Arthur Price-Jones, Colin Stockwell

Photo left to right

Roger Jefferies, Peter MacMahon, Liz Bennett, Peter Keith-Lucas, Gill Phillips, Beth Evans