Dorothy and I have just finished a fantastic nine-week stint in South Africa which started in early January with a few days business in Johannesburg. We then led the party of 24 bowlers from Jersey on a very exciting and interesting tour. Our first port of call was the well run Protea Ranch Hotel in Polokwane which even has its own Game Reserve. Whilst here we played at four clubs in Limpopo, all of whom gave us a wonderful welcome. We then moved from Limpopo to the Lowveld, where once again the hospitality of the four clubs we played against was exceptional. This same cordiality was repeated in Johannesburg where all the clubs rolled out the red carpet, even to actual applause as our bowlers got off the bus to play our match.
We then travelled to The Nest in the Drakensberg, a long time favourite of ours, where we were joined by 72 South African bowlers for our Golden Anniversary Bowls Tournament, which was managed superbly by Theuns Fraser, South Africa’s number one bowling coach. The new owners of The Nest, Stuart and Shelley Longmore, made our nine-day visit such a pleasure. If you have never been to The Nest before then there are plenty of reasons, besides bowls, to do so. From here we travelled through Natal down to the South Coast and then onto Durban where once again we were received with open arms. After six weeks bowling at 22 different clubs and playing in an exciting Bowling Tournament our group returned home to the UK. They took with them wonderful memories of South Africa and of the old and new friends they had met.
After visiting South Africa more than 100 times since 1964 this our Golden Anniversary visit has lived up to all our expectations. We are especially delighted with the air of optimism in the country.
The highlight of our visit was our Anniversary Luncheon at the Michelangelo Hotel in Sandton on the 4th February. Over one hundred people attended, and apart from a sumptuous lunch and many trips down memory lane, the whole gathering joined together in singing songs from around the Friendship world. These included well known favorites from Australia, New Zealand, the UK, North America and South Africa. I am not so sure the rendition of My Sarie Marais was word perfect, but it gave me such great joy to see so many happy people enjoying this very special day.
We are having a similar function at The Runnymede on Thames Hotel in Surrey on Sunday 14th October 2018. Should you have any friends or family who would like to attend this Champagne Luncheon please ask them to contact the Springbok office on 01784 465511, or by emailing email@example.com who will send them full details. As the function is celebrating not only the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Associations but also my Ninetieth Birthday, it will be my pleasure to pay half the cost of their Luncheon.
Whilst touring the country I have met dozens of members of Friends of the Lion. Many asked if the UK Friends of the Springbok was still functioning and I was able to advise them that we still bring thousands of people to South Africa under the Springbok umbrella. If your family or friends in the UK could be interested tell them to email Jenny at Friends of the Springbok, firstname.lastname@example.org. She will be happy to send them information on membership, our special airfares to South Africa and our monthly lottery. Who knows they may be lucky enough to join the existing 2 500 members who, over the years, have won a free return international flight. The lottery also offers a chance to win Flight Vouchers and holiday spending money. That’s a big benefit to Springbok membership, just a pity SA legislation doesn’t permit us to offer this lottery to Lion members.Dorothy and I are now back in Jersey after nearly three months away from home.
We especially enjoyed our time in South Africa, playing bowls, catching up with friends and business colleagues and seeing parts of your beautiful country. We will be back in 2019 and have some exciting plans afoot. Britain is buzzing and the Royal Wedding in May is almost upon us. Shops are full of regalia, Union Jacks and wedding memorabilia, even Brexit is overshadowed for the time being. I am sure you too will be glued to your television sets when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle walk down the aisle of St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle on Saturday 19 May.
In the meantime, look after yourselves and others around you.
Yours in Friendship,
Founder and International President