Lyceum Club Christmas morning tea
Speech by Mrs Kaye de Jersey
Thank you, Dr Prior, for your kind introduction this morning, it is a pleasure to join you all today as we gather to celebrate, not only the festive season, but also the Lyceum Club itself, which this year is on the cusp of its centenary.
It is my honour to be Patron of this great club as I strongly believe its original aspirations – to encourage a group of passionate, intellectually curious women to gather in the spirit of friendship and lifelong learning – are more vital today than ever.
We are so often told that our modern society lacks cohesion.
Certainly one could be forgiven for thinking the advent of social media has divided, rather than united, us.
But as I look around this room today, I am reminded that the need for genuine, stimulating interaction with one another is just the same in 2018 as it was in 1919, when the Lyceum Club first opened its doors.
Back then the setting was rather different from the salubrious surroundings where we meet today.
I came across this recollection of member Betty Fletcher, who wrote rather descriptively of the first home of the Lyceum Club.
“The room”, Betty writes, “was up a steep staircase and early members recall carrying up all sorts of gifts of furniture and china for their new home. They stained the floor themselves, made furnishings and took turns at providing cakes and biscuits for supper after meetings. Miss Paten always brought a ‘billy can’ of milk from the Paten’s cows at Walton Bridge. Meetings were at night only, and evening dress was worn.”
The vision of Miss Paten arriving at the club bearing a billy can of milk while navigating the steep staircase in her evening wear is an image that stays with me.
What a delightful contrast between the formality of the original Lyceum Club in London, and the somewhat utilitarian debut of its namesake in the new world!
What all Lyceum Clubs do share, however, is an emphasis on the importance of friendship.
Women have always found strength in the company of one another.
We do, I believe, have an innate understanding of its role in fostering wellbeing in both individuals and the broader community.
So I congratulate the Lyceum Club this Christmas on many things, but perhaps, most of all, on the 99 years of friendship it has borne and nurtured.
As your Patron, I wish each one of you a very safe and happy festive season.
And, of course, I look forward to celebrating a remarkable century for the Lyceum Club with you all in the New Year.