One of the most eagerly anticipated entries in the calendar is the Sportsman’s Dinner. After the success of previous years, not only to raise money but to also entertain the audience, this year had much to live up to.
Kevin Keegan was billed as the guest of honour for the evening; a popular name to attract as many members as possible to our grandstand event. Although the date had to be re-arranged several times, the organising committee ensured that everyone attending would not be disappointed.
Nearly 800 members and guests descended on the Leicester Tigers Stadium, to be welcomed by fully stocked bars, a superbly dressed banqueting room, and a fantastic three-course meal.
No evening would be complete without an experienced and entertaining Master of Ceremonies, and our host for the evening, Roger Dakin, certainly fits the bill. Roger played hockey for England in the 1970’s and coached the team just before they became successful! Having spoken at functions of all types for over 25 years, he finds he is now ready for anything.
Roger took to the stage to welcome everyone and start the evening’s procedure, with a quick-fire round of jokes to warm the audience up.
The Provincial Grand Master, keen to ensure the evening worked like clockwork, took over the microphone for his opening remarks of welcome to all.
As is usual for our Sportsman’s Dinners, raising money for the 2022 Festival is the focus. To begin with, a game of heads ‘n’ tails started the ball rolling, encouraging those who were able to take part in an entertaining raffle to win selected memorabilia.
A well-known face amongst sports fans is Ed Giddins, who after a successful cricket career, which included representing England at Test level, became a much in demand after-dinner and motivational speaker, event organiser and charity auctioneer. Ed and his team expertly guided the room through the live and silent auctions, with prizes such as gifts and sporting memorabilia, to holidays and sporting event tickets.
Last but by no means least, was the evening’s main attraction, Kevin Keegan. Kevin was born on Valentine’s Day 1951 in Armthorpe Yorkshire. After making 124 appearances for Scunthorpe, Kevin was signed by Bill Shankly, joining Liverpool in 1971. After 3 league titles, 2 UEFA cups, 1 FA Cup and 1 European Cup, 323 appearances and 100 goals; Kevin joined Hamburg in 1977. Representing England on 63 occasions Kevin captained his country 31 times and scored 21 goals. Playing spells at Southampton and Newcastle followed before Kevin returned to Newcastle as manager, achieving promotion from division 2 at the first attempt in 1992 before narrowly missing out on the league title in 1996. Further spells in management followed at Fulham Manchester City, England and Newcastle.
Kevin remains the only Englishman to win the coveted Ballon d’or twice and even became a pop star in 1979 when “Head over heels in love” reached no. 31 in the charts.
Kevin took the audience on a trip down memory lane, as he presented his life, from a young lad through to the end of his playing career, in a hugely entertaining way.
Not only was his presentation extremely well received, but Kevin was delighted to stay to the early hours of the morning signing autographs and posing for photographs with anyone who wanted one.
At the time of going to press the amount raised on the evening is over £75,000, which will be attributed to the 2022 Festival and be made available for local charities and good causes.
With the conclusion of the festival scheduled for June 2022, the organising committee remain focussed and determined to reach our target of £1,800,000. The culmination of five years of fundraising will be our end of festival party at Welford Road on Saturday 22nd June 2022.
Provincial Grand Master Peter Kinder said, “What a superb evening. I would like to thank Roger, Ed and of course Kevin for entertaining us. I would also like to thank Dale Page and Richard Barnett for organising such a successful evening so magnificently.”