The first of this year’s European Chinese New Year banquets was held on Friday 25 January at our Home in Colchester.
Cooking had started the day before; table setting was largely complete by lunchtime – mostly by volunteers who had arrived early for the 3-day weekend workshop, and partly by volunteers coming in to help just for the one day. How can this be possible? By a combination of careful planning in advance, and willingness to be flexible in the moment.
Punch poured, canapes plated, nibbles bowled, members dressed in matching shirts, meeters and greeters in position, and, at the appointed hour the guests started to arrive.
Will Quince, MP for the local constituency of Colchester; Nick and Elizabeth Cope, deputy Mayor and Mayoress of Colchester; Sandra Gosney from Help for Heroes military veteran support; Peter Gardner and Louise Joplin for the MS Society; Simon Prestney from Age Concern; Dr Sahota GP – all were welcomed warmly and escorted in to share enjoy our hospitality and experience some cultural exchange.
Introductions first, and some words of greetings from our principal guests, and from Society leaders.
As the banquet progressed, we heard testimonials from members to the health-improving qualities of our practise.
Dentist Alex Madani (who had come accompanied by his daughters) spoke of how, after years of chronic pain, and years of seeking help from various quarters, he had his first night of good sleep right after his first tai chi class.
Jane Bullock spoke of how her spinal problems confounded her doctors, who eventually agreed that the tai chi she was by then already doing was as good as, or better than, anything they had to offer.
Entertainment came first from guitarist Steve, and subsequently from singer Leah, who raised everyone’s spirits with a spirited Simply the Best – is that a song about what we do?
To show our guests what the tai chi part of our tradition looks like, there followed a display the moves of our Set.
And as a finale, a massed Gong Hey Fat Choy! from our directors and guests, before the directors toured the tables to toast, and thank, all those present.
And plenty of time for informal conversation, and for forging and rekindling lasting connections.
A banquet is a lovely way to experience another side to our way of doing things, beyond the tai chi form. Our numbers were swelled by local members who, although not participating in the workshop, were able to support the banquet with their presence. Thanks to everyone involved in the preparations and the festivities.
Gong Hey Fat Choy!