The British Club of Las Palmas this week continued their celebrations of the Queen of England’s Platinum Jubilee, with the planting of an olive tree in their grounds, where it can be directly viewed from the main entrance to their historic headquarters in this once-mostly-British enclave of the city, known as Ciudad Jardín.
The event, organised by the club committee headed up by the newly re-elected president, Betty Burgess BEM, gathered the iconic institution’s members, alongside various VIPs and the British Vice-Consul to Las Palmas, Ms Jaqualine Stevenson, for a delightful garden commemoration of the British community’s longstanding presence and influence on the City of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and the Canary Islands as a whole, with a token of their lasting esteem for their monarch, whose fortuitous reign, they feel, would be well reflected by this latest addition to the grounds of the 114 year old bastion of, what was once known as The British Colony, those who have been making this place their home for more than two centuries.
“Jackie”, as the vice-consul prefers to introduce herself, thanked everyone for being present, passing on one of Her Majesty’s “very special requests” as part of her project entitled “The Queen’s Green Canopy” asking everyone in Britain and the Commonwealth and further afield to plant a tree, “if not a tree, to put some plants on their terrace, or even just put some herbs in the garden.” in order to help the environment and contribute to a sustainable future.
“What The British Club have done today, to mark this event, is to get an olive tree, which was chosen because the Olive tree is known for its resilience and longevity, much like Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II; but also” said Ms Stevenson “this represents the strong relationship between The United Kingdom and Spain” adding her sincere wish that, similarly, “this lovely olive tree will grow and flourish in the years to come.”
The event was further enlivened, following a rendition of the British National Anthem, with a celebratory singsong, written specifically for the event, and energetically performed by an extraordinary choral group, working as part of the local British community church “The Holy Trinity”, who were aptly joined, by participating members of the club and the gathered crowd, in a jaunty singalong of the classic “English Country Garden” after the tree was planted
The ceremony took place beside the English country garden centre below the club, La Casa de Semillas, and once finished attendees went upstairs to the club bar and dining area, where they were treated to traditional sandwiches, teas and scones, along with a delicious selection of home-made jams, while some of the more lively members let their hair down, kicked back and danced a little to the rousing bustle of the attending pianist.
There was even some wine and a raffle, in which our ever-energetic vice-consul managed to win herself a rather naughty set of china, designed to serve teas for three, no less!
The British Club, which was founded in 1908 by the merchant residents of the Ciudad Jardin area, has long stood as a cross-roads and a refuge for subjects of the British crown, as well as anglophiles from across the globe, who have found themselves passing through these islands, including, it is rumoured, the likes of Agatha Christie and Winston Churchill among the notables who have sought restitution within its walls.
This somewhat exclusive, yet really rather open minded, social club simply seeks to preserve the long legacy of the British on this island. They act as a meeting point for various social groups and events, where the serene seclusion of the dining balcony may often merge with lively banter and intelligent debate from the bar, a bridge club meets there, some literature and an occasional formal event or historical lecture, always carried out with a reverent sense of chivalry, dignity and elegance as befits so unique an expression of the enduring relations between this archipelago and the British Isles.
With luck the club will continue to grow and be well supported, as a significant reminder of the many links between the two populations, in terms of business and culture, and will continue to develop as a incubator for future innovation and newly evolving relationships, as well as quiet reflection of what Britishness really means for a small subtropical island off the coast of Africa.
The Club itself has most recently been working on a revitalisation plan for its many activities and promotion of new memberships, with active outreach now being undertaken by the president, with her team, who this week also paid a visit to the We Are Warriors Shop, in Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria, on the south of the island, to find out more about the extraordinary range of work they have been undertaking, over the last two years, to raise funds for various charitable causes, including the many Brits abroad who have found themselves in need over recent times.
President, Betty Burgess, who received her long overdue British Empire Medal this year, was presented, by the Vice-consul, to meet Warriors founder, Karen Williams, so as to try to uncover what opportunities there might be to help bring the two British communities closer together, and continue to work for good causes that promote the very best of British ideals, as well as the necessary integration into island society.
A calendar was suggested for The British Club, “It will have to be a decent one” said Betty with a smile “Perhaps we could find some cleverly placed foliage in the club gardens?”
The Canary News looks forward to writing much more about these collaborative links between the communities we serve, in the near future and for many years to come.