IoD Berkshire and Oxfordshire, in partnership with The Business Forum, once again hosted its Christmas lunch in December 2017, in the delightful setting of the famous Leander Club in Henley-on-Thames, the most successful rowing club in the world.
It was great to see over sixty IoD members and guests enjoy a delicious lunch before hearing from our guest speaker Lesley Foden, who in the summer of 2017 rowed around the entire coastline of Great Britain in support of the RNLI - 1800 miles in eight weeks.
As her 60th birthday fast approached Lesley was looking for her next challenge, and what a challenge it was, and a sharp contrast with her day job as a still-life artist! We heard from Lesley about her two year programme to prepare for this challenge and what life was like in the small ocean-going rowing boat that was home for eight weeks. The British weather threw everything at her and the three other rowers. As well as a few scary storms and some huge waves Lesley also saw spectacular sunrises and sunsets, a view of the UK coast that few of us get to see plus some close encounters with amazing wildlife.
What an extraordinary lady with a great story. And all those who listened to Lesley's story raised the remarkable amount of £1,620 for our chosen charity, the RNLI. We heard from Rowan Johnson, a volunteer at Chiswick lifeboat station, about the great work of the RNLI, in particular how many lives are saved, and sadly some that are not, on the River Thames. Many of us are more aware of the work of the RNLI on the sea so with the Thames running through our area it was interesting to hear more about the RNLI's work on the Thames. We were delighted to donate the £1,620 raised to the RNLI; the money was raised from a raffle with some great prizes kindly donated from a number of individuals and businesses, and from an auction with a number of valuable and interesting experiences on offer, again kindly donated by local IoD and Business Forum members.
Thank you again to Lesley for telling us about her sea going adventures and to Rowan for her insights in to the life saving work of the RNLI.
Susan Elliott, Chairman, IoD Berkshire