In this post, Mark Bullerwell, our Club Captain shares the toast that he intended to present at the Centenary Dinner on Saturday 2 April 2022. Due to circumstances on the night, Mark was not able to deliver the toast as planned. But we feel it is too important not to share…
Well, here we all are. Finally!!
Over 18 months of planning, 220 tickets sold in just under 48 hours, a Club record I believe, a few last minute Covid casualties, but we did it.
It has been a huge honour for me to put this event on for you all tonight and the Club trusting me to do it, whilst being 3,500 miles away.
100 years old, well technically 101 years, is a huge achievement. From 1921 we co existed but then finally merging with the ladies club in 1976, and West London Penguin would be very different today if that hadn’t happened for sure.
The last time I had the privilege to stand up and speak to this many Penguins in the same venue was my very good friend and fellow Penguin team mate, Wayne Davis’s wedding in Italy – mmm, Bullers has a microphone again.
What’s he going to say now?
This Club has given me so much joy over the years and I have my other good friend (I only have two) and fellow school mate, Tom Perry to thank for that. Going all the way back to 1989, picking me up from my father’s home in Bedford and driving me down the A1 for my first Penguin training session where I met Steve Baker, Miguel Ortiz, Paul Whatley, Alan Wollaston, Ian Spooner and Jerome Read, just to name a few.
So many stories to tell and re-tell, which I am sure we will be sharing later on over a few drinks.
One of my proudest moments, apart from tonight of course was 2007-08 when I was appointed Club Captain and was the first time in the Club’s history that we had both the men’s and women’s first teams playing in the British Championships at the Manchester Aquatic Centre. Sadly we did not win the golds, but we certainly won the after party. Morgen-Rae Graham challenging anybody and everybody to a dance off was one of the many highlights for sure.
The last few years have been a tough time, not just for the Club, but for all of us in so so many ways.
But the way in which Penguin has stayed resilient and bounced back stronger is testament to all of us in this room and others that could not be present. The stewardship from Sarah Wren, the handover of the Presidency from Louis to Fiona, Grimbo and his Covid protocols for returning to swim, the Masters swimmers headed up by Johnny and last but not least the water polo teams led by Claudio, Albie and Rachel, the fact that we are celebrating a Club and its centenary at all, is just phenomenal.
The current vibe in the Club as we close one chapter and start the next is the highest I think its been for a very long time. Thriving junior sections with international representation thanks to the hard work from Claudio. The Masters swimmers who often get forgotten about and we have a huge amount of them here this evening are just going from strength to strength and have supported tonight’s event massively for which I personally thank all of you for.
Then we have the senior mens and womens water polo teams. Claudio guiding the men, aided by Grimbo and Martin Waller and the ladies, coached by Rumen, who boldly stepped into the huge shoes left behind by our Shakey. Both reaching promotion this season, which again in our centenary year was just the cherry on top in my opinion.
Now as well as losing our beloved Shakey, which left a huge hole in this great Club, we have sadly lost some other Club members that due to the global pandemic, probably went under the radar.
Ken Rogers, affectionately known to his mates as tumble turn Ken. He was Club Captain in 1960 and also a life member.
Derek Roberts, Club Captain in 1972, Club President from 1993 to 1996 and a life member.
And lastly our goal keeper for many second team matches and a small half a bitter in the cricket club bar afterwards, Nilo Falcini. He was Club Captain in 1984, Club Treasurer for a number of years and a life member.
All three were Penguin to the core and will be remembered fondly.
I think as a Club such as ours, it is important to stay true to our values and remember our history but in the same breath we must evolve and move with the times. The menu cards on the tables were put together with this in mind and I very much hope that this was achieved.
Now before I sign off, I have a couple of messages to read out. I did receive a lot of video messages and emails from many Penguins around the world which truly just show the size and also the love this Club gets from so many. It is not possible to read all of these out or show the video messages on the screens. But hopefully what I am about to read out will leave you feeling the same love for this Club that I have.
On the occasion of the Penguin Swimming and Water Polo Club 100 year celebration, from Bryan and Sheila Randall, Melbourne, Australia.
Sheila and l were hoping to be with you on this memorable occasion to celebrate the Club’s 100-year anniversary. Unfortunately due to the pandemic we are not able, but are with you in spirit.
We send our congratulations and best wishes to this great Club and all its members and associates. We raise our glasses to take wine, wishing that the future will be as successful as the past.
The happy times l personally recall during my time with Penguin will remain for ever. A local W6 lad, born and bred in Hammersmith, my family have been associated with Hammersmith Ladies and Penguin since pre-World War Two.
My sister Olive was a champion swimmer with Hammersmith Ladies and my wife was a member there in the 1950s.
My brother Pat (Buda) was also a Penguin in the 1950s and 1960s. He was also a journalist with the West London Gazette and had a weekly column reporting all the Club’s news and results.
During that decade we were one of the strongest water polo sides in Great Britain, winning the national club title many times. We also had great swimmers, including John Martin-Dye, Tan Hawkins-Kovar, Linheart, Jackson and many others.
I was and still am so very proud of playing in our men’s water polo first team for over 10 years, with icons of their time such as Ron Turner, Stan Hawkins, Les Baldwin, Terry Miller, John Martin-Dye, plus other great players such Lew Bloomfield, John Lake, Gerry Jarrett and Bobby Wollaston.
We would also like to raise a glass or two to all our mates in the Pearl Club who we know are special stalwarts of Penguin.
Keep up the good work.
And news just in…
Our good friend, Pearl Club member and Penguin stalwart, Malcolm Cromer has just sent me this to read out and I have to say I am extremely impressed:
His brother Frank, who is now resident in Norway, but like Malcolm is still very active in the pool has just completed a clean sweep of gold medals in the Norwegian Masters National Championships. Not only did he take the gold medal, but he set new National records in backstroke for the 50, 100 and 200 metre distances in the over 75 age group. That is just fantastic. Malcolm, on behalf of the Club, please pass on our congratulations to Frank, a truly remarkable achievement.
Now, all there is left for me to say is please can we all charge our glasses and be up standing.
MANIBUS PEDIBUSQUE, WITH HANDS AND FEET