Farnham 41 Club celebrated its 75th birthday year in the best possible style, when no less a personage than Sir Winston Churchill raised a glass of his favourite Johnnie Walker Black Label scotch to mark the milestone.

As guest of honour, Sir Winston (aka Tony Hughes), regaled guests with a life most definitely well-lived. After being “a duffer at school”, he not only had a spectacularly chequered political career both in peace-time and war-time but was also a good landscape painter and apparently was “the first man to import Cuban cigars into the UK”!

At the start of the evening, MC and past president Keith Harrison welcomed special guests including Farnham mayor, Councillor Alan Earwaker, and 41 Club national president Steve James.

More than 60 ex-Farnham Round Tablers and current 41 Club members – including 15 past presidents – travelled from as far as Cornwall, Cumbria, Derby and Northern France to meet old friends and share fun memories.

Formed in 1948, the Farnham 41 Club is one of the oldest 41 Clubs in the country and is comprised of ex-Round Tablers who wish to maintain their friendships on leaving Table
Formed in 1948, the Farnham 41 Club is one of the oldest 41 Clubs in the country and is comprised of ex-Round Tablers who wish to maintain their friendships on leaving Table (41 Club)

The 41 Club is otherwise known as The Association of Ex-Round Tablers’ Clubs, with the Table constitution directing that “an active member shall cease to be a member of Round Table on the 31st March following his 45th birthday”.

But back in 2016, with only two members under the age of 60 and those leaving Round Table not seeing the club as a relevant ‘next step’, the club’s longer-term future was in serious doubt. As a result, a small working group of members of both clubs got together to look at how to make 41 Club more appealing.

After much discussion it was clear significant and rapid change would be needed, bringing 41 Club much closer to the more active and less formal style of Round Table.

The result has been a sea-change, with most Tablers today naturally moving on to 41 Club, which now has 23 members under the age of 60.

The mayor of Farnham Alan Earwaker joined Santa and the elves of Farnham Round Table for a sleigh ride through The Chantrys in the days before Christmas
As well as having a full diary of social activities, Farnham 41 Club continues to support the younger Round Table club in major community service and fund-raising events including the fireworks in Farnham Park and Santa’s Sleigh (now milk float!) which in this past year has raised over £52,000 for local good causes (Farnham Round Table)

Farnham 41 Club offers members of all ages an ideal relaxed vehicle for continuing friendships forged over many decades. Proof is that John Crotty – at 92 the club’s oldest member – remains a regular attendee.                        

In raising a toast to the club, national president Steve James said: “The success of this transformation has resulted in Farnham thriving as one of the largest 41 Clubs in the country today.”

President Linden Coleman added: “In offering something for everyone, Farnham 41 Club provides the ideal structure for those looking for ‘what next?’ when moving on from Table. Long may this continue!”

A raffle on the evening raised £880 for the national president’s nominated Prostate Cancer charity and Steve James was grateful to club member John Hemsley in particular for his generosity in donating a magnum of Champagne.      

In thanking Sir Winston, Keith Harrison waved a copy of the Farnham club’s annual accounts for 1965/66, which included ‘A donation of ten pounds ten shillings to be paid to the Winston Churchill Memorial Fund’ and concluded: “Seeing you in such rude health here this evening, I’m bound to ask: can we have our money back?”