Cardiff Round Table is ninety-two years old, the 26th Table Chartered in Great Britain and Ireland, but is still showing all the energy and enthusiasm of any of its younger counterparts, particularly in relation to its international relationships. In 2019 (pre-covid) the Table hosted an event for fourteen different international Tables (all the 26th numbered in their respective countries). Many were from Europe but the group also included Tables from South Africa and India.
Matty the current Chairman, was part of the Table organising and managing the logistics for the event and he spoke to me about the experience: “It was absolutely brilliant. It brings together Table members and their families so it has a wonderful atmosphere over the four days. Day one, Thursday, is a welcome party where everyone arrives from all over. Friday begins with some sports and games that everyone can join in with, followed in the evening with “Home Hosting” - with all the different families joining the home of one of our Table Members for that night and doing whatever the host family has planned.
Saturday is our AGM with every Table talking about and sharing what they have been doing, different activities and how much money they have been able to raise for their communities, the family members do something much more fun while we talk “Table”, before we all join up again for an evening Gala Ball. Finally, a gentle Day four with goodbyes until we will hopefully meet again next year in another country with a different host Table. We all get to share ideas as well as learn about each other’s different cultures – it is good to remember that we are people first and being social together gives us the impetus to spread that goodwill across the world.”
One great idea that grew out of this collaboration was news of Cardiff’s equivalent Belgian Table who organise an enormous Duck Race in their home town. The streets are closed, the crowds come out and the whole thing is a major event with so much support that the Table are able to give away a new car amongst other prizes. “We know we have to build up to that but we now have our own Cardiff Duck Race which we started this year, encouraged and supported by our friends in Belgium”. This kind of sharing of time, information and camaraderie is clearly having a significant impact on the lives and development of individual members, area Tables and on to the international Table community, promoting understanding, connection and collaboration – broadening horizons and extending international sympathy.
“It’s been challenging at times, organising the logistics for such a large group of people over that many days, ensuring everyone knows what to do and where to go is demanding but we work as a team, all look out for each other and we certainly have some laughs at the same time”.
Matty went on to speak a little about his experience of Table, having been a member in Dursley, Cardiff, Oxford and Cardiff again, and the difference it made to him. He told a story that feels very common yet still very precious across the Tables, of finding a community of good people, a reliable network meaning no matter where you go there are people to connect with and to get support from, and of a brilliant way to gently and informally develop a whole range of personal and professional skills that are invaluable.
This year will hopefully see a return to the Table 26 International Union of Clubs (IUC) with the next host country Denmark and guests having the chance to once again meet, learn and share with each other.
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