Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Founder's Day

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you should be familiar with the initials AWC.  Ever since I joined last summer, the American Women's Club of London (AWC) has accounted for a good 75% of my social life here in London -- and close to 50% of Josh's as well.  They have such a nice variety of groups and activities that meet on a weekly or monthly basis that participating in them all would be like having a full-time job. 

Personally, I enjoy the walking tours of London, theater and movie matinees, and the monthly cocktail party, where husbands are welcome.  I also play Mah Jongg every Friday (really!) and have signed up for a few of their day trips.  I'm especially looking forward to touring Highclere Castle in September, which is where the hugely popular TV series Downton Abbey is filmed.  (The "downstairs" scenes are filmed in London's Ealing Studios, but sadly they don't give tours.)

The AWC was founded in 1899 (as the "Society of American Women"), so this year marked its 113th anniversary.  The club holds an annual "Founder's Day" party to celebrate, which is their biggest event of the year.  In the past it has been a members-only luncheon, but this year they decided to do something a bit different by having an evening cocktail party in a fancy hotel and opening it up to spouses and friends.  Since the party was on my birthday, I thought it would be a fun way to celebrate both occasions, which is why we came back from Paris on Friday afternoon.

The party was held in the Conservatory of the Millennium Gloucester Hotel in Kensington, which turned out to be a lovely venue. It was mostly glass, and filled with large, light-covered palm trees.
An evening under the palm trees of London...
It was nice to see so many of my AWC friends all in one place, and I think Josh was a little surprised by how many ladies greeted me by name and wished me a happy birthday. 

In our party clothes
It was an eventful evening, as it also served as a fundraiser for the club and the charities it supports.  So, in addition to cocktails, speeches, and a buffet dinner, there was a raffle, a live auction, and a silent auction.  Each activity group collects donations from members during the course of the year (usually one or two pounds per meeting) and uses those funds to put together themed baskets full of goodies to be raffled off.  I wish I had taken photos -- some of them were pretty spectacular.  The book club basket included a Kindle, and the ladies who host the monthly cocktail party put together a basket full of wine and champagne with crystal wine glasses and a silver wine coaster.  Each basket had a bowl in front of it, so you could either put all your raffle tickets in one bowl or distribute them among the baskets you were most interested in winning.  I was hoping I'd win a nice birthday gift for myself, but no such luck...  :-(

The live auction included a case of wine, a Persian rug, a sailing trip, and a weekend at a B&B in the Lake District (the same one where we stayed, in fact.)  I think Josh made an initial bid on that last one, but dropped out when the bidding rose above the actual value.  Meanwhile, I surveyed the silent auction items, which included spa treatments, travel vouchers, pottery, jewelry, a massive pink hat, and a huge box full of American snack foods that are hard to find here: Wheat Thins, Cheez Its, microwave popcorn, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, pancake mix, cake mix, etc.  I bid on a travel voucher, a facial and massage at a salon in Wimbledon, and some antique London maps that Josh really liked -- all of which I won below their face value.  (The box of American food went for £90, which is over $140!)

The party was a lot of fun, and I'm looking forward to going again next year.  I heard that we raised about £9,000 (over $14,000), so it's nice to know that we were supporting a number of good causes on top of celebrating the club's anniversary and my birthday!

1 comment:

  1. Fun! It sounds like a great evening. I love silent auctions!


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