Taverners toast Neil Durden-Smith
Celebration of the 80th birthday of Neil Durden Smith OBE
The beautiful Long Room at Lord's was the setting for this joyous occasion. Neil has been a Lord's Taverner for 40 years and has been an amazing supporter of the charity, devoting endless hours to fundraising activities. He was National Chairman for two years and President of the Middlesex Region for sixteen years.
So to say 'thank you' for this tremendous dedication the Taverners gave him a party. The host for the evening was Neil and Judy's son, Mark Durden-Smith. Mark was brilliant - describing his father in hilarious terms - hopefully Neil found them as hilarious as we did! Grace by Sir Richard Stilgoe was one of the highlights of the evening - Richard was in his usual sparkling form with anecdotes about Neil sprinkled throughout the Grace.
The first tribute to Neil was given by the President of the Lady Taverners, Angela Rippon, who has known him and Judy for over thirty years. Past President of the Lord's Taverners, Chris Tarrant spoke movingly of Neil's great kindness to him. Chris also read a letter to Neil from past Lady Taverners President, Baroness Rachael Heyhoe Flint - he managed to imitate Rachael's Wolverhampton accent to a tee which was extremely amusing. Sir John Major also sent a letter of congratulations to Neil which was read by Chris Cowdrey, President of the Lord's Taverners. Chris did a fabulous impersonation of Neil doing an auction - this was so accurate that it brought the house down, "fantastic", as Durders would say.
The surprise of the evening was introduced by Mark - it was a drumming team, called The Drum Waiters, who had the guests beating out a rhythm on drum sticks - the room was rocking - an inspired addition to the evening by Mark. The incomparable Bill Tidy was next on stage to pay tribute to Neil in the style that never fails to get everyone laughing and then presented him with one of his famous cartoons.
Neil thanked everyone who had helped to make this evening so special -he was particularly delighted to have so many of his family, including two of his grandsons, Charlie and Sam Dawson, with him.
For the finale, Sir Tim Rice took to the stage to introduce a group, Cantabile, an acappella singing quartet who entertained us royally, the show stopper being when they persuaded Tim to sing his signature tune "I Was Born Under A Wandering Star" with them.
A great way to end a great evening.
Original event details:
Venue: Lord's Cricket Ground
For more information please contact the events department on 020 7025 0000.
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