90 Not Out

Founder Member Ben Clarke celebrates his 90th. birthday at the club

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Batting On – A Very Special Innings

How appropriate, delightful and totally secret to Ben, that his wife Angela should organise a party when we all gathered at Reids after normal Rotary lunch on Monday, February 4 to say Happy Big 90th. Birthday to Ben Clarke.

The “secret” messages from Angela to club members, past and present Rotarians, Inner Wheel ladies and family and friends went out before Christmas, cleverly disguised. Break of faith and be shamed if anyone revealed anything. No-one did.

Century Awaits

Yes, Our Ben, still batting strongly – 90 not out and still spinning a tale or two from a lifetime in Billericay as a student at St John’s school, wartime memories, the High Street butchers he ran with his brother and much, much more.

Ben was far too modest to want to enrich more of his life in Rotary and the community. “Mustn’t over-egg the occasion,” he said. If you say so Ben.   Ninety years.  A century awaits.  And, if Angela agrees, you will still be bowling maidens over!

Not only that but he will proudly, again wear the president’s chain in 2019-2020

No Clue

Having thought celebrations were over with a 90-candle cake and an intimate party at home three days before, Ben said: “ I am gobsmacked”.  Not words you might normally hear from Our Ben but bang on.

“I didn't have a clue that this was going to happen.  I cannot believe that you are all here just for me.  I thank you all for your cards, your kindness and your good wishes.”  Free bar, teas and coffees then the iced cakes – plural! One fruit, one sponge - both delicious and absorbed with instant delight and sticky fingers.  And a huge 90 pin, leaving no-one in any doubt as to the reason why we were celebrating a memorable occasion.

“I tried for ninety candles, but they wouldn’t fit on this cake, so I had to do a larger one on the actual day of his birthday,” laughed Angela.  “It’s a wonderful turn-out and I know Ben appreciates it all.”

He had the last word: “On my actual birthday, my daughter brought me down to earth. She told me. “You might be ninety, dad, but you can still bring me a cup of tea in bed tomorrow!”
Like the song says:  What a swell party this was!

By Trevor Bond