Mansfield and Dukeries Circle is 50 years old.

The Circle reached the venerable age of 50 on April 25th. To mark this significant event, Circle organised a Gala Dinner at the Derbyshire Hotel, South Normanton.

We were extremely honoured to be joined by the Bishop of Nottingham, Bishop Malcolm McMahon, O.P. who has always been extremely supportive of Catenian events across Province 15 and the Catenian Association in general.

Bishop Malcolm McMahon

It was also a great honour and pleasure to welcome Grand Vice-President Tony Godden and his wife, Kelly, a week before they take up office as Grand President for 2011-12. We were grateful that, at this extremely busy time, Tony and Kelly have been able to fit us into their schedule. As many of you will have read in the May 2011 edition of Catena, Tony has been a keen advocate of the development of the Association in new regions and has been International Development Officer for the last five years, guiding the inauguration of new Circles particularly in establishing the Association in Goa. We wish Kelly and him the very best for the coming year as they embark on a hectic schedule of meetings and travel across the Catenian world.

Grand Vice-President Tony Godden speaks at the Gala Dinner

We also extended our warmest welcome to the many visitors that came – widows, friends and family of brothers and our guests from across Province 15 and further afield. It is always a pleasure to welcome back the many friends that regularly support our events, notably Clergy Night.

In our menu card for the dinner, President Karol Grabowski recalled some significant members of Circle and some of the facts that made this one of the most welcoming Circles in Province 15:

One of our notable stalwarts was Eugene Lee. He was a Founder Member, the first Chamberlain of the Circle, President in 1968-69 and Headteacher at the local St Philip Neri Primary School. His two big contributions to the Circle were the recruitment of new brothers from among the parents at his school and his organisation of the Clergy Night for many years. His “letter from Ireland” was always warmly received by brothers and visitors on Clergy Night.

In our 50 years we have seen many characters come and go. Some have moved on to other Circles and others we have lost touch with. The Circle has been blessed with some excellent raconteurs who kept both the Circle meetings and the After-Circle alive with their rumbustious wit and their desire for a good argument (without breaking the golden rule that prohibits wrangling at meetings). No doubt some of our visitors and elder statesmen here tonight will have fond memories of those days.

The venue for meetings has always been the subject of some close scrutiny. Brothers of this Circle are very particular about the quality of the food they receive in the After-Circle, so it was with great regret that the Circle moved from the White Post at Farnsfield, which gave them the reputation for the best meals in Province as well as extremely generous helpings, welcomed by all visitors who were never charged for their meals!! Such days are well past, though our current venue at Portland College has been a truly excellent discovery and will stand up to scrutiny as one of the best venues in Province.

We look forward to the next 50 years with confidence and gratitude for those who have preceded us. FLOREAT CATENA!