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‘Ordinary guys doing extraordinary things’

Bourne Round Table images - looking back on 50 years. The hugely popular Bourne Festival attracts thousands of visitors each year EMN-160919-123520001
Bourne Round Table images - looking back on 50 years. The hugely popular Bourne Festival attracts thousands of visitors each year EMN-160919-123520001

Founded in 1927, Round Table offers members the chance to have fun with friends while also supporting their local communities through fundraising and events. Jon Sandall spoke to past and present members of the Bourne group as it celebrates its 50th anniversary.

1966 was a year of firsts: England won the World Cup, the first British credit card was launched and the BBC started broadcasting television pictures in colour.

Bourne Round Table - how the Mercury reported its charter 50 years ago EMN-160921-110710001
Bourne Round Table - how the Mercury reported its charter 50 years ago EMN-160921-110710001

It was also the year that Bourne and District Round Table was chartered – the first of the so-called service organisations to have a presence in the town.

The group began life on September 28, 1966 and has played a prominent role in the town ever since, organising major events, helping those in need and raising money for numerous good causes.

Today it is perhaps best known for organising the hugely popular Bourne Festival, which attracts thousands of people to the Wellhead Field every year for a weekend of live music, real ale, food and fun. But there’s much more to it than that.

Every year, in December, around 100 older people from across the Bourne are collected by coach, driven to the Corn Exchange and treated to a delicious three-course Christmas dinner funded and served by Round Table members. The event has been taking place every year since the mid-1970s and is eagerly-awaited by those who are invited to attend.

Bourne Round Table images - looking back on 50 years. 'A group photo from 1971 EMN-160919-123538001
Bourne Round Table images - looking back on 50 years. 'A group photo from 1971 EMN-160919-123538001

Last year, Bourne and District Round Table teamed up with Bourne Abbey Church of England Academy PTFA to help organise the town’s annual firework display. The event had been cancelled in 2014, but the Round Table’s support and expertise in 2015 meant it was able to return.

Every year, many donations are presented to individuals and community groups - with recent recipients including talented triathlete and aspiring Olympian Kayleigh Adams; Bourne United Charities, for Wellhead improvements; and St Firmin’s Church, Thurlby, after thieves stole lead from its roof.

Back in 2013, the group donated funds to allow Lincolnshire Emergency Blood Bikes Service to purchase a brand new Honda NT700 motorcycle - used by the charity to transport essential medical items, including blood, plasma, platelets and biological samples between hospitals.

Roger North, 70, was a member between 1969 and 1986. He was the group’s first president, elected in 1990.

Roger said he was inspired to join at a time when the Round Table was supporting Bourne Outdoor Swimming Pool. He said: “When I joined I was living and working in Bourne and knew of the organisation and its work. They were raising money for a heating system at Bourne Outdoor Swimming Pool at the time, which seemed like a good cause, and I knew quite a few other members.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Round Table. There’s the social side - and I still keep in touch with a lot of the friends I made in those days - but also helping so many different people and organisations across the area with financial support.”

Neil Bothwell, 40, joined in 2008 and is the group’s events co-ordinator with responsibility for, among other things, ensuring the Bourne Festival is planned to perfection every year.

He said: “I first got interested as a member of the public attending the festival. I thought, this is a great event, a real positive asset for the town, and Colin Young who was president at the time was handing out flyers seeking new members.

“I went again the following day and the social activities such as quad biking and abseiling appealed to me and I ended up becoming a member.

“There’s a great sense of achievement to be had raising money for the community and also providing major events which a lot of people really enjoy.”

Kevin Gutteridge, 49, was a member between 2005 and 2011. He was encouraged to join by a neighbour who was a Tabler and who was seeking volunteers to assist with the Bourne Festival.

Although, like all Tablers, Kevin had to leave at 45, he is currently serving as an honorary member for a year.

Kevin said: “The festival is one of our most high-profile events and consequently that’s where we have our biggest membership drive. It has grown hugely from a couple of bands on the back of a lorry and a few cans of beer in 2002, to a huge event with around 20 bands which draws up to 6,000 people each year.

“I was attracted to the social aspects of being in the Round Table. Members meet twice a month - perhaps for a meal or just a few beers and there’s other, more exciting, activities too.

“Nobody you speak to who is a current or former member ever says they regret joining.”

David Southwood, 67, was a member between 1986 and 1992. He said: “I moved to the area in 1985 and didn’t know many people here - apart from staff at The Wishing Well Inn and, coincidentally, that was where Round Table members met at that time.

“I was encouraged to join and did so. It was a great way to make new friends with people from all walks of life, to get to know the area, and also to do some work for the good of the community.”

Bourne and District Round Table is always on the lookout for new members, who must be male and aged between 18 and 45. For more information, visit https://bourne-district.roundtable.co.uk

The Round Table name comes from a speech from the then Prince of Wales, made in 1927 to the British industries fair. He said: “The young business and professional men of this country must get together round the table, adopt methods that have proved so sound in the past, adapt them to the changing needs of the times and wherever possible, improve them”.

The speech inspired the name, and also provided the Round Table motto: ‘adopt, adapt, improve’ - principles that remain at the heart of the organisation.

The first Round Table was formed in Norwich in 1927.

Although Round Table membership is only open to men aged 18 to 45, the Ladies Circle - open to women aged 18 to 45 - is a sister organisation, sharing the same core values.

Once Round Table or Ladies Circle members have left their respective clubs at 45, they can move onto 41 club (association of ex-Tablers) or Tangent. These two clubs came into being to allow the original clubs to remain true to their vision of catering for the younger generations, while allowing Table and Circle members to continue their involvement in the Round Table family.

England rugby star Manu Tuilagi is set to speak at a dinner organised to mark Bourne and District Round Table’s 50th anniversary.

The dinner, tonight (Friday), will begin at 7pm with a drinks reception, followed by a five-course meal. Rather than a formal after-dinner speech, Manu will take part in an ‘after-dinner banter/question and answer session’ .

Manu is widely regarded as one of the toughest and most fearless centres in the game – known for smashing through opposition defences.

The event will take place at Bourne Corn Exchange and is expected to be a sell out.


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