|The stately Maison de Maitre built in 1845 at Genthod, now housing the Geneva English School, was the venue on 28 May for the celebration of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday. The organizing committee, formed by the Romandie West Region under the chairmanship of Michael Bruce, included Swiss branches of the Royal British Legion, the Royal Air Forces Association, the Commonwealth Association of Geneva, the Royal Over-Seas League, The British-Swiss Chamber of Commerce Geneva Chapter, the Victoria British Aid Fund and the Rolls Royce Enthusiasts’ Club.
The English School’s beautiful grounds, with a magnificent backdrop of lake and mountains, seemed a fitting endroit to hold such a memorable occasion. Two hundred and thirty-five people arrived in the late afternoon to enjoy champagne, wine, soft drinks, the very British fare of cucumber and egg sandwiches, petit- fours, and barbequed sausages and chicken, followed by a chocolate birthday cake.
The ever popular and well-known Michael McKay was the Master of Ceremonies and introduced excerpts from the recently performed Geneva Amateur Operatic Society production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Although the car, so magnificently constructed for the performance, sadly couldn’t be transported, there was some consolation in that a wonderful collection of British classical cars, including several Rolls Royces, was assembled in the school’s courtyard for all to admire. Luckily the sun shone for most of the time except for one short, sharp squall which provided some further animation!
Congratulatory messages were received from notable British citizens, including the Right Honourable Ann Widdecombe DSG, Lord Paddy Ashdown, Petula Clark and Dame Vera Lynne. Michael Rogers OBE. read a reply from the Queen in response to the good wishes sent to her from Switzerland. The British Ambassador to Switzerland, David Moran, proposed the Loyal Toast to Her Majesty and the President of the Swiss Parliament and glasses of champagne were raised in salute. The National Anthem was sung to the accompaniment of a Scottish piper playing valiantly throughout the afternoon.
Thus ended a memorable celebration and sincere thanks are due to GES for allowing us to use their premises and to all those who volunteered their services at no cost and spent many hours preparing for the great day. An outside observer would have seen many persons enjoying animated conversation with people they perhaps hadn’t seen in years. All those that attended this event had one thing in common and that was a great regard for Her Majesty and the country and Commonwealth she has served for so long. In these troubled times this gives us hope for the future. God save the Queen.