By Jane Fernandes MBE
The launch of British artist John O’Connor’s book, Retrato de Lisboa – Portrait of Lisbon (Editorial Notícias 2004), took place in London on November 17, courtesy of The Anglo-Portuguese Society. The venue was the prestigious Landmark London Hotel and the occasion the society’s annual dinner and dance.
This was followed by an exhibition of John O’Connor’s recent paintings, watercolours and drawings of Portuguese landscapes, which opened at Canning House in Belgrave Square in London, on November 23. Organising events of this kind is part of the society’s remit and is entirely in keeping with the objectives laid down at the time of its foundation in 1938. These are to promote Portugal’s history, culture and traditions in Great Britain and to maintain and develop Anglo-Portuguese friendship.
Traditionally held in November, the society’s dinner and dance is a major feature on its annual programme of events and a highlight on the London social calendar. Attended by some 200 members and guests, it was a happy, festive occasion, a-buzz with chatter in Portuguese and in English as old friendships were sealed and new ones made over pre-dinner drinks and at the superb seated meal served in the Landmark’s elegant Music Room.
The society’s President, Ambassador Sr. Fernando Andresen Guimarães, who took up his post in London a year ago, proposed the toast to Her Majesty the Queen. The society’s recently-elected Chairman of the Executive Committee, Mr Gavin Trechman, proposed the toast to the President of the Portuguese Republic and glasses were also raised to Anglo-Portuguese friendship.
In a short after-dinner address, the Chairman thanked the many sponsors for their invaluable contribution to the success of the evening, particularly the Symington family, John E Fells & Sons Ltd and Adriano Ramos Pinto for supplying Port, Madeira and table wines. He also expressed the committee’s gratitude to TAP and all the donors of prizes for the grand draw; to the Caixa Geral de Depósitos London Branch for sponsoring the dance music and to the Espírito Santo Financial Group S.A. for printing the menu.
One of the prizes was dinner for four at The Butcher’s Arms restaurant in Warwickshire donated by Mr. and Mrs. Lino Pires, who have lived in Britain for 40 years and are the owners of the restaurant. Mr. Pires recently wrote his autobiography, a copy of which was one of the raffle prizes. He revealed that their restaurant is fully booked for Christmas lunch, serving traditional English fare but “com algumas sobremesas típicas da minha terra”. What a lovely example of the spirit of Christmas and of Anglo-Portuguese friendship!
Many of the names on the guest list will be familiar to readers, such as Lady Ross, whose late husband, Sir Archibald, was British Ambassador to Portugal in the mid-1960s. Lady Ross, who was accompanied by her daughter Susannah, is still actively involved in the society’s committee work.
Other familiar names included Roger Westbrook, former British Ambassador to Portugal, and recently Chairman of the APS, Mr. Abdool Vakil, Banco Negócios Português, Mr. and Mrs. Antony Pinsent, Alentejo wine-growers, Mr. Robin Berkeley, formerly of BP, Mr. Stanley Duncan, formerly at the British Embassy Lisbon and a former APS Chairman, Mrs. Rosemary de Rougemont, a lawyer with offices in London and Portugal, who was recently elected as the new Chairman of the Executive Committee of the London-based Portuguese Chamber of Commerce, Dr. António Silva, head of ICEP’s London office, Mr. José Leitão of D & F Shippers Ltd, Mrs. E.M. Cornelius-Reid of Monte da Palhagueira Nursing Home, Mr. James Hall, an APS Vice President and Portugal’s former Honorary Consul in Edinburgh for over 30 years, Mr. Nicholas Turner, art historian and writer, Mr. Peter Donnelly of Finantia Securities Ltd, Mr. Anthony Bird of Rothschilds, Miss Maria do Carmo Paço d’Arcos of the Fundação Paço D’Arcos and Mr. Tim Stanley-Clarke, a Portuguese wine expert.
The Anglo-Portuguese Society is a non-commercial and non-political body. Details of individual and corporate membership, as well as of coming events, are available in the UK from Dame Ann Waterfall, Secretary, 2 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8PJ, email email@example.com or in Portugal from the society’s representative, Mrs Jane Fernandes MBE, email: firstname.lastname@example.org