Once again, I think I can say that 2015/16 was a most successful year for the Alliance Française de la Côte de Saphir. All the usual events, as well as some new ones were well attended, and without having actual statistics, it seems to me that, in general, attendance was up at most functions. Or else, those present were particularly boisterous, conjuring the illusion of large numbers! Regardless, we have all had a marvellous time!
To refresh our memories on the year that was:
Commencing in October, a Moroccan inspired lunch was held at the Wharf Restaurant. An afternoon of entertainment ensued, with Mike Warren having prepared some Moroccan based trivia questions to ponder, and, to the delight of all, between main course and dessert, whales appeared off long point, (as arranged), and put on a spectacular performance for our exclusive viewing.
The Christmas party was again held at Mandeni in November, where around thirty members and guests enjoyed each other’s company, sunny weather, an exciting pétanque competition and a delicious lunch. The Coupe d’Antibes this year was claimed by team, ‘Les Champions’, consisting of Davina Hewes, Bénédicte Morrow and Mike Warren, after a closely fought final.
2016 dawned for our AF with some changes to the Committee, where we farewelled Margaret Gaunson as Secretary and welcomed Mike Warren to step into the breach. We also farewelled Regine Kasper as editor of La Mouette, after eight years in this role. A remarkable commitment and greatly appreciated by all our members. Clive Roberts took on this enormous task and is doing an excellent job producing a high quality newsletter, on time, every time.
In February, we held the traditional Welcome Party, thanks to the generosity of Mike and Lilias Warren, who opened their wonderfully, spacious house for this function. The theme ‘All things French’, permitted broad scope for creative minds, and another good attendance ensured plenty of delicious dishes to share on a perfect summer’s evening.
A first for our group, at least during the time in which I have been involved, was the Easter Egg Hunt and French picnic, held in March at the beautiful Bald Hills property of one of our members. On this occasion, we also welcomed a young French couple, Magalie and Rodolphe, visiting from Paris. All had a physically active and entertaining day despite the overcast conditions.
As the Film Night proved so popular last year, there were two on offer this year in Pambula. The first screening in April, “Être et Avoir”, and the second in August, “Quai d’Orsay”, received mixed reactions from the audience and stimulated lively discussion at the dinner which followed.
In May, a French Wine Tasting, again at the Warren residence, attracted some keen interest from our wine connoisseurs. Mike arranged for Steve Bryant from Negociants International, one of the world’s pre-eminent premium wine exporters, owned by Yalumba, to offer six wines, with background and tasting notes for each. Impressive indeed! Another first, I believe.
In June we paused, regrouped, debriefed and took a deep breath – then commenced preparations for Bastille Day.
The dinner held in the Garden Room at the Pambula-Merimbula Golf Club proved a great success, with fifty-two members and guests attending. A couple of games held during the night helped to break the ice and get the brain working. The food was excellent and service impeccable. Thanks to all involved.
As well as the special functions organised throughout the year, the regular fortnightly activities continue, so there is always something for everyone in your AF. Pétanque and Saturday Beginners’ French Conversation both prove to be increasingly popular pastimes. Thanks to the facilitators, Clive Roberts, Pétanque, and Robert McCombie, Conversation, for making the ongoing commitment to ensure these activities are always available to our members.
Along with the occasional fluent French speakers’ lunches, generously facilitated by Denise and Kerry respectively, there is always something for everyone to enjoy.
Then, of course there is the Library. There have been concerns with the Library for a number of years now, regarding where it is situated, at the Pool in Pambula, and the deterioration of its contents. Thank you to Julie Welsh for taking such good care of our library over the past three years and chasing the wayward borrowers. There are currently moves afoot to find a better solution to the library issues.
I can’t end this report without paying tribute to the people of France in the wake of all the tragedy that has befallen them over the past two years. All of us who belong to the Alliance Française de la Côte de Saphir, do so because we love France and all things French; and although these atrocities are happening in many parts of the globe, we hold a very special place in our hearts for France, its people, and it’s beacon of liberté égalité fraternité. All we can do is keep them in our prayers and trust that love will prevail against fear and hatred. Vive la France!
In conclusion then, I want to thank the fantastic Committee members who have been such a delight to work with over the years. Our meetings are always convivial and bright, with each one putting his or her hand up at every turn for one job or another. All the events mentioned don’t just happen on the day; there is always someone who has put a great deal of time and effort into making sure that it will be ‘alright on the night’. So, thank you Annette, Denise, Julie, Kerry, Margaret, Clive, Mike and Robert for making things happen, you are all amazing!
Thank you to all the members for so generously and enthusiastically supporting our functions, and as I step down from the presidency tonight, I wish the new Committee and the Alliance Française de la Côte de Saphir all the very best for a long and successful future.
Madame la Président
Alliance Française de la Côte de Saphir
5 September 2016