In planning the annual Queen’s Birthday Party in each of the BRA’s six regions, the organisers can only hope for good weather and a good participation. In the case of Romandie West’s event on 21 June our prayers were more than answered. The temperature was perfect as we gathered at the prestigious Geneva English School in the charming village of Genthod where the spacious playing fields stretch down towards Lake Geneva and provide a magnificent view of the majestic mountains of the Haute-Savoie in France on the other side of the lake.
As to participation, we were some 117 people, including a few non-paying volunteer helpers but it could have been a catastrophe. Unbeknown to the organizing committee, under the able leadership of Michael Bruce, who was until recently the Romandie West Chairman, it was not known until late in the day that His Holiness, Pope Francis, was also coming to Geneva on 21 June to celebrate Mass for some 40,000 people at Palexpo, near Geneva Airport, and that many access roads would be blocked. Instructions were hastily drafted as to how to get to Genthod by alternative routes and sent to everybody who had registered. In the event, all went well as most roads in and around Geneva were deserted. In consequence a number of people arrived well in advance of the scheduled start time of 18:30, including the Guest of Honour, Miriam Shearman, Her Majesty’s Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva who proposed the Loyal Toast and to the Swiss Federal Parliament. As guests arrived, they were greeted musically by Piper Ray Saunders in full Highland regalia, despite the warmth of the day, and received a strong glass of Pimms before proceeding to the lawns where more than copious finger food, drinks and entertainment were provided. On behalf of the Geneva English School, the Headmaster, Tim Meunier, welcomed everybody along with the Mayor of Genthod, Wolfgang Honegger, retiring Chairman, Michael Bruce, and his co-opted successor, Alan Baker.
The fact that so many people stayed on eating and drinking long after the official end time of the QBP was testimony to the fact that the evening had been a great success, despite our fears as to the impact of the Pope’s visit and, who knows, perhaps he had heard about our event on the grapevine and sent his blessings that all should go well! Thanks also go to our various sponsors, both in cash and kind, who generously contributed towards helping make the QBP a financial success.