Black?, White?, Both?    -    The 2006 BARC SEC Dinner Dance.


It was a special evening. Because… so many people turned up. Tickets went like hot cakes and although my target was 150 we exceeded that and still had to turn people away. The final number was 155, including our special guests representing Dunlop, T&R Magazine, Quaife Engineering, Chris Knott Insurance and Jim Bamber the cartoonist.   There were many, many more people all worthy of a mention but I don’t want to turn this report into a Golden Globe appreciation farce.


I had bought a dress earlier in the year, which was stunning. It was in black and white, so when it became clear in September that no one had quite got around to the idea of the annual bash I volunteered and used my dress as inspiration to set the theme.


I wanted to see if people could use their imaginations but at the same time I had to make it easy. Most chaps have a dinner suit, white shirt, and black tie, while most women have the favoured little black dress. I also wanted to try and highlight that clarity is always written down, “in black & white”. I was surreptitiously trying to refer to race meeting final instructions or The Blue Book. Still, it was amazing how many phoned and asked what I meant; clearly I am too cryptic for some.


The interpretations were in the end fantastic.  John Busby broke with tradition and wore a white jacket, black shirt and tie; he looked stunning. Gordon Streeter and Paul Goddard, dressed as the Blues Brothers complete with shades and black hats with white bands.  The women looked fantastic and one even wore a white evening dress.  She said she felt out of place, like she was dressed as a bride, I didn’t think so; she looked great, well done Sharon!


My day started at about 10.30am when Rod and I loaded up the van with “stuff” with which to adorn the room. When we got there the Stirling Suite looked bland and more like a café than a posh evening venue. The tables were laid with our chequered cloth and the glasses had white napkins in them. It didn’t look right. The chairs had seen better days, so at Mandy’s suggestion we covered them with black seat covers. MSV usually use for their Christmas events. Strangely this was what I had in mind in the first place but did not think to mention it to the event liaison person, Karyn. A bit of juggling with napkins and it was decided that flimsy black paper ones and higher quality white napkins would be placed in each glass. This gave the effect of a black and white tulip. Perfect!


Andy Ratcliffe, wife Audrey and their friend Mary turned up around about 12pm. I was so glad to see them as there seemed to be so much to do. Mary helped putting the racing flags, supplied by Mike Hibbins (BRSCC), on the railings; Audrey and Andy did whatever it was they were doing. And Rod spent most of the morning running around Kent trying to find bits we needed to finish off our display, a manikin, blue tack, that sort of thing, as well as finding parts to help fix the lift which was out of order. Apparently some clot had split wine in it  the previous evening and it had stopped working. Not much fun for us having to lug very heavy boxes of suspension springs (table decorations) up three floors, not to mention the engine crane (to hold the Paddock Plan or table plan). It didn’t help, either, because we had Steve Weatherly coming to one of his first ever awards evening with BARC SEC, he definitely needed to lift, it had to be fixed!


At 3.45pm I was ushered out of the building for a well earnt massage leaving the troops to it. Crikey what were they up to, did they know what to do, what would happen if I wasn’t there to keep an eye on things????

Hell, what do I care, they can manage, and manage they did!


Rod collected me at 7pm and as I entered the room I could not have been more proud. It was stunning, the team had put my vision together perfectly, and the guests commented all evening about how fantastic it looked.


The meal was a five-course affair as follows:


Normandy Onion with Cheese Crouton 

Passion fruit with Guava and Champagne

Roast Loin of Pork 
With apricot & sage stuffing served with creamy cider gravy.
Accompanied by fresh vegetables and potatoes to compliment the meal.

OR Veggie option
Mediterranean Vegetable Crostini
Layers of roasted Mediterranean vegetables in a puff pastry case,
served on a bed of continental lettuce drizzled with basil olive oil

Raspberry Torte
Raspberry mousse, nestled between light sponge soaked in liqueur
topped with fresh raspberries and dusted with icing sugar.
Served with raspberry coulis

Coffee & Petite Fours  


There were two birthdays so when the dessert came out two had sparkers in them, one for John Busby’s wife Ingrid the other for Eric Falce’s guest, John “the painter” Frankis.


The speeches and awards followed in traditional fashion with an unexpected award received by Rod and me. Frequently won by Maggie & Tony Watts, this time it went to the Birley’s, Yippee!


I got the biggest bouquet of flowers I have ever seen and this was despite telling Andy a week earlier that I didn’t want any; cost was worrying me. But I must say they are truly beautiful and I am so glad I was ignored, I love them.


This year I broke with tradition and organised a Grand Draw. Anyone calling it a raffle would be fined £10. The reason for the change was to get away from the boring routine of lots and lots of small prizes that are generously donated by guests. This year I wanted people to be able to win something of true value and at the same time raise money for a different reason.


In the past the raffle has helped the BARC SEC rescue unit, a vital piece of equipment we are all very proud of. However, this is a going concern and makes money in its own right, so this year I asked the committee if we could raise money for the British Motoring Sport Relief Fund. A registered charity that looks after anybody, who qualifies, who has been injured or suffering as a direct result of the sport. This could mean you, me, your partner and children, officials, marshals or spectators. 


Andy also made enquiries about making a contribution towards Future Forests. A way the sport puts back into the environment what it takes out in terms of carbon emissions.


We were both supported by our ideas and now had to come up with a radical plan of how to sell the draw tickets.


Again I didn’t want raffle tickets, this was different because the prizes ranged in face value from£120 to £800 and there were only twelve. I produced vouchers placed in sealed envelopes that would only be opened when Andy gave the instruction. It worked and here is a list of prizes I managed to get:






Vouchers from Quaife plus factory tour  -  £400 


RDC Oval Sport day -  £500   


Dolls House -  £130  and a Steif Bear -  £90   


Long weekend in St Christophe France -  £130 approx  


Chef for the evening -  £200


Sealey Tool kit -  £400


Ladies TAG Sports Watch from “Second time around” - £450      


Health Spa Day for four plus a meal at Thistle hotel -  £200


Long weekend in Montcuq (Tourlouse) France -  £120           approx


Full set of Dunlop tyres - £500 to £800 depending on your car requirements


Four tickets to BTCC Thruxton  plus guided tour of paddock with Team dynamics where you also meet the champion Matt Neal - £100 +      


Silverstone Driver tuition & season ticket -  £275    





I cannot express how grateful I am to those who made these prizes available. And even though I had one comment on the extortionate cost of the draw tickets, £10 each, I felt they were worth it as the prizes were so very good. Wow I’m good!


Moving on… the speeches and awards did seem to go on a bit even though we tried to get through them quickly without trivialising any. But finally we got on the dance floor at about 11pm. It was packed I have never seen so many blokes trying to shake their funky stuff.


The Fred and Ginger award, however, must go to Ray Barrow and partner Julia Baxter. These two can really cut a rug, Yes, that is Ray Barrow, red MKI Escort, wears cowboy boots to drive, never stays to collect his awards, yes that’s the one, he can really dance, proper!


With a final “New York, New York” rendition to close the dancing the evening came to an end. I, and many others especially Tim Falce had had far too much to drink and suffered for it the next day but it was worth it, I had a great time and hope every one else felt the same.


Memorable points of the evening…


Getting a full snog on the lips by Reg Powell (his way of trying to coax me into doing next years dinner)


Seeing Ray Barrow and Julia dance like professionals


The Twosome award for the Birley’s


Andy’s waistcoat


155 guests


Grand draw – not raffle, raising over £1400


Eric collecting his award and a bag of rice