2 Jul 2015: Sir Winston Churchill Memorial Dinner - Grémio Literário
The Royal British Club and the Grémio Literário Club of Lisbon held a remarkable dinner on 2nd July. Every seat was full, with some 60 attending from the RBC and 80 from the Grémio Literário, with over a dozen people on the waiting list.
The evening began with a fascinating talk by Katherine Barnett, who came over specially from Winston Churchill’s family home, Chartwell, where she is the Churchill House and Collections Manager. She was introduced by Philip Portal, Chairman of the Royal British Club. Katherine was a mine of information regarding Churchill as a person, his relationship with his beloved Clementine, his family, his 500 paintings, all the books he wrote and the history of his life. She spoke vividly and with feeling.
We then moved down to the Grémio’s beautiful outside patio for cocktails, as the sun was setting.
Dinner was opened by HM Ambassador Kirsty Hayes, President of the Royal British Club, who gave the loyal toast and subsequently, with wonderful grace and humour, introduced our two guest speakers.
Honoured guest Professor João Carlos Espada then introduced us to Churchill in the war years, quoting his best known speeches from the war years and eloquently explaining his legacy.
This was followed by an outstanding speech by our other guest of honour and our Honorary Club member Dr Francisco Pinto Balsemão, ex Prime Minister and owner of Expresso and of SIC, one of Portugal’s most influential business people and politicians. Dr Pinto Balsemão put to us 10 questions which Churchill might ask us today, if he was with us in the room. He then gave, with characteristic diplomacy, charm and humour, the responses we might give to him. The questions covered most of the core issues we face today, involving the Euro, war and peace and the future of the planet.
We closed the evening around 11pm. It was a remarkable evening and sincere thanks are due to each of our speakers, the Grémio Literário, the committee of the Royal British club and specifically to Committee member José Miguel de Carvalho Cerqueira who was the initiator of the special relationship we are forming between our two clubs.