Great Dunmow Round Table (or to give it its full title: “Great Dunmow & District Round Table No. 768, member of Area 33”) is an organisation with a simple purpose: to Generate money for the local community and interest in its events, to Give away money raised (and a bit of time here and there) to good and predominantly local causes, and all the time to have a Giggle with a great bunch of like-minded individuals.
But it is also much more than that…
The origins of Round Table
The first Round Table was formed in Norwich in 1927. The founder, Louis Marchesi, was a young member of the Norwich Rotary Club who thought there was a need for a club where the young business men of the town could gather on a regular basis to exchange ideas, learn from the experiences of their colleagues and play a collective part in the civic life of Norwich. Within a year membership of this Round Table had grown to 85 and interest had been shown in establishing Round Tables elsewhere.
Round Table owes nothing to Arthurian Legend (save for, perhaps, its emblem), deriving both its title and its maxim from a speech made to the British Industries Fair in 1927 by the then Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII):
“The young business and professional men of this country must get together round the table, ADOPT methods that have proved so sound in the past, ADAPT them to the changing needs of the times and wherever possible, IMPROVE them”.
Round Table has used the motto of “Adopt, Adapt and Improve” to make it an organisation which is still relevant in the 21st Century.
Round Table exists in more than 40 countries and one of its aims is “to further the establishment of peace and goodwill in international relationships”. As a result many Tables in this country have links or are ‘twinned’ with overseas Tables, and exchange visits are arranged on a regular basis.
A Brief History Of Great Dunmow & District Round Table
At a meeting of Halstead Round Table No. 449 in 1961, Michael Smith found himself elected (he was out of the room at the time) to be the Extension Officer responsible for forming a new Round Table in Great Dunmow. The first meeting took place in the Tudor Restaurant where, to the dismay of several prospective members, the cost of the meal was eight shillings (40p), including a 6d tip for the waitress!
The formal Inaugural Meeting took place on 10th May 1962, but was slightly overshadowed by Hornchurch Round Table’s pilfering an entire flitch of bacon, which had been loaned by the Dunmow Bacon Factory for display. It was never returned, and was located two days later at a meeting of Lagos Round Table in Nigeria. The founder members during the first year 1962/63 were Ron Bolton, Sandy Calder, Phillip Dutnell, Keith Hall, Keith Harvey, Cyril Hatter, Dick Jones, Ron Owers, Peter Rayner, David Shepherd, Michael Smith, Alan Staines, Graham Terry, Keith Todd, Reg Wade, Bill Whyman and John Windley.
With the support of the Rotary Club of Dunmow and ‘parent’ Tables (Halstead No. 449 and Saffron Walden No. 582), Great Dunmow Round Table quickly became active in the community. Early projects included providing the labour to convert the Old Maltings into a Day Centre for the elderly and helping the Rotary Club of Dunmow to pack and deliver Christmas food parcels to the elderly and needy in the district.
Not content with just being regular entrants at Dunmow Carnival, Great Dunmow Round Table agreed to take over the running in 1985. Despite the years in its care being a great success, in 2004 the running of the Dunmow Carnival was passed over to the ‘Committee’ but Table continued to take care of the food and drink…an area they excel in still today. Over the years, Table has added Santa’s Christmas Sleigh, the Charity Concert Night and the Great Dunmow Firework Display as regular events organised and manned by its members and 41 Club. Despite all this, local and regional recognition alone was not enough. Great Dunmow Round Table set its sights even higher and in 2007 became Guinness World Record Holders for riding the biggest pedal powered vehicle. This event raised £35,000 for local, national and international good causes. Where to go from there you may ask? What else can a bunch of guys do? Even more. In 2014, members cycled 160 miles from Dunmow to Ypres to lay a wreath on at the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate Memorial. As a result of this, and other related fundraising, we were able to donate £56,000 to BLESMA, the single biggest donation in the charity’s history, part of over £100,000 raised for charity in the year to April 2015.
Although known for its fundraising, it is actually Great Dunmow Round Table’s reputation for the fellowship and fun enjoyed by its members and guests that has enabled it, against the national trend, to show a steady increase in its membership during recent years.
How we work
If you’re really on this page to find out more about what it would be like to join Great Dunmow Round Table, then you’ve got to the right bit! Within the broad framework of the rules of the National Association, all Round Tables organise their own programme and make their own decisions on the community service activities which best suit them. We also get to organise a variety of social activities for our members and their families.
Like most Round Tables, we generally meet after work a couple of nights a month, for a varied programme of meetings, events or just a casual drink in one of the Dunmow locals. You might find yourself listening to a guest speaker, discussing current affairs, how to manage the next fundraising event, or what to spend the money raised on. You are equally likely to find yourself in a go-kart, clay pigeon shooting, climbing, wine tasting, or even learning to ride a 6-man tandem…anything is possible. At all events, you’re guaranteed to be well fed and watered and to have a great time.
We have three key events each year, which we use to raise money for local causes and make sure that the whole Dunmow community benefits and has a great time: The Carnival Bar & BBQ, The Fireworks Display and Santa Sleigh. Added to these are other socials, family days, discos, Christmas parties and events supporting other Round Tables, the 41 Club and our local institutions.
There is also the annual Chairman’s challenge, organised by the current Chairman and a chance for them to organise a unique event with their own stamp on it, which all members can attend. These range enormously and previous ones have included: entering a ‘Pub Sevens’ rugby tournament to find out we were against the Army, German, Italian, Nigerian and Navy 7s teams (oh yes, with a team of members that had never played before), drinking lager at a cider festival in Wales, driving around the Nürburgring in a £300 Ford Mondeo, climbing the three peaks in 24 hours, rowing down the Thames in timber skiffs, cycling from Scotland to Dunmow on a tandem, not to mention the two other fundraising cycling events mentioned above.
Round Table is open to men aged between 18 and 45. Once you’ve made it to 45, it doesn’t stop then as you can look forward to joining 41 Club (so named for archaic reasons due to shorter life-expectancy). There you can continue your involvement with the Round Table and its events, just with a few more “I told you so’s and “In my day”.
So, if you’re interested in meeting like-minded people from all walks of life, broadening your horizons, having great fun and enjoying new experiences why not contact us and come along to our next meeting!