by Ian Kilbride*
On an idyllic balmy evening in Cape Town next door to the famous Newlands cricket ground, close to 400 South African and British philanthropic cricket lovers joined together at Kelvin Grove to launch Lords Taverners South Africa and at the same time celebrate a great friend of the sport. It was always going to be a wonderful and emotional event as it was an occasion on which the much loved and remarkable Robin ‘Jackers’ Jackman was honoured by his friends, family and numerous admirers, for a life spent immersed in cricket, playing it, commentating on it and simply loving it!
In addition, the Taverners were out in force, numbering among themselves some of the big guns, namely Presidents and Chairman from the past and the present. They were all there for the evening to see and support their much loved organisation launch its latest venture, the Lords Taverners South Africa.
The Taverners organisation itself dates back over 60 years to when a generous group of similarly minded cricket nuts, and regular drinking friends at the Lords Tavern at Lords Cricket Ground, decided to form a charitable group. The purpose was simple, to raise money for disabled and also disadvantaged children, using cricket and sport as a medium to offer hope and a chance to shine. The motto is ‘Giving Young People a Sporting Chance’ and since those early days it has been an incredibly successful and emotional journey, one that has seen the Taverners raise millions of pounds a year to fund minibuses, table top cricket and a multitude of other projects and ideas that bring joy and fun into the lives of young disabled and or disadvantaged young people, see lordstaverners.org for the full history, story and goals.
From the very beginning the Lords Taverners has always been directly associated with a vast range of show business and TV personalities, sporting icons and well known business personalities. The Patron is the Duke of Edinburgh and the Presidents over the years have included the Duke himself, along with at different times his son Prince Charles and his grandson HRH Prince Edward. Sir John Mills, Tim Rice, Colin Cowdrey, his son Chris (also an England captain), Mike Gatting, Chris Tarrant, Sir David Frost, Sir Terry Wogan and Sir Michael Parkinson have all held the position of President with distinction, along with many other interesting and well known personalities.
Last night the happy gathering was joined by two past Presidents, Chris Tarrant and Chris Cowdrey and also the current President, Sir Michael Parkinson known to many as ‘Parky’, who was accompanied by his charming and lovely wife Mary. Chris Cowdrey, a wonderful MC, guided the gathering through a charming evening that included a fabulous ‘Parkinson’ style interview with Jackers. These two men have a common love of cricket and also for giving back to the communities that they admire and who have for many years adored them in return.
The well-known TV commentator Trevor Quirk, a great friend of Jackers and his family had the gathering in fits of laughter recalling stories from their ‘adventures’ on tour, clearly and thankfully all that goes on tour doesn’t ‘all’ stay on tour!
The inaugural CEO of Lords Taverners South Africa (LTSA), David Ralph, set out the goals that Lords Taverners South Africa has set for itself for the immediate future and the inaugural Chairman of Lords Taverners South Africa Ian Kilbride, thanked everyone for their wonderful personal as well as financial support, particularly thanking David Ralph as the CEO for his energy and drive. Kilbride further committed to ensuring as Chairman, that clear structures, a simple modus operandi and established board governance would ensure that growth would be steady but sure, and that the projects chosen for support would be in line with the original objectives, but with a South African element. All supported projects will be well vetted and have strong track records. Kilbride will no doubt bring to Lords Taverners the same skills that have helped him, as the founder and Chairman, build the Spirit Foundation over the last 21 years into what it is today. It was announced also that ‘Sporting Chance’, an initiative in Cape Town that uses Cricket to give structure, organisational and leadership opportunities to disadvantaged children, would be supported in 2016, as will be the supplying of ‘table top Cricket’ sets to numerous schools for disabled schools around South Africa.
All in all a very solid start for Lords Taverners South Africa and more importantly a great evening spent with old friends, family and fans for Jackers. If only the Newlands pitch had as much going for it as the evening had then the last day of the Test Match today may even produce a result. As things look, however, the guys will have to play for another five days just to finish the test off, but then who would really care because we don’t like cricket, we love it!