• York Rotary

An ABBA-solutely memorable Centenary Dinner

Updated: Nov 28, 2021

President David reports on the November 19th event....

Compilation video There are lots more photos and videos on our Centenary page here

In 2018 the Centenary team presented the plans for the centenary to the club and those included

the Centenary Celebration dinner with Abba Revival. At the time this caused great debate

amongst members regarding the choice of event, the cost of the event and ticket sales and also

dress code. A decision was made to proceed and then the event that should have taken place in

May this year had to be deferred due to lockdown.

The Centenary team have worked very hard with the event planning and that included a lot of debate about the implications of Covid on the event. Ticket sales were launched in June via the website, and within about four weeks the event was sold out, that was a fantastic first step and meant that the event finances were secure. We did not need to undertake a large public promotion of the event, which we thought might be necessary.

The Racecourse is always a fantastic venue and we wanted to make it look its best. Mary Lumley took charge of the room decorations and organised fantastic balloon decorations, a colour scheme for table linen and chocolate presentation boxes. Brian Joscelyne designed and organised the printing of a very attractive menu card. The combined effect of these really set off the room.

The logistics of the event were complex and had to work to a strict timescale, as the drinks reception was being held on the 1stfloor and the dinner and performance on the 4thfloor,

meant that within a short timescale we had to get 280 from first floor to fourth floor.

Added to the complexity a number of balloon decorations had to be moved from 1st to 4th floor and the crack removal team are shown in a lift with balloons!

After the initial debate about dress code people attended in black tie, smart casual and Abba dress, the result was a real eclectic mix of dress, that added to the fun atmosphere.

We were joined by representatives of nine other Rotary clubs for the event. One guest who was present was Robert Coates, an honorary member of Moors Gateway Rotary club. Robert is the

great great grandson of our founder President Edward Walker, it was fantastic to be able to refer to that long family connection. We are hoping that Robert might have some archive material of the period that he can copy for Graham Wilford to put in our digital archive.

Robert Coates (l) with Graham

The Dinner was excellent and much complemented by our guests.

At the end of the dinner we awarded a number of spot prizes, two for lucky seats and two for Abba dress. Mary and I concluded that the best dressed individual should be awarded to Trish Joscelyne, she had a fantastic costume and put a lot of work into its looks. Brian also had a fantastic wig, we asked them both onto the stage to receive their prize.

We also awarded a prize to Kevin’s table as we judged them to be the table who had put the most combined effort into Abba dress.

We noticed that we had 100% attendance by the lady members of the club, quite an achievement, the photograph below was taken to record that.

We got Abba Revival on stage on time at 21.45 and their performance had a very dramatic start, following which they performed for 90 minutes, without an interval, quite an achievement.

After the first song the dance floor was never empty at any time and often there were 100+ people enjoying themselves dancing. At the end of the spot prize ceremony I had mentioned that we had a lot of male Rotarians really looking forward to doing a bit of Dad Dancing, they did not disappoint!

The feedback from those attending the event was that they really enjoyed themselves, that was evident in their faces, but also from the many emails of thanks that we have received.

I would like to thank all of the Centenary team for their work, but in particular I want to mention Brian, all of the bookings were managed by him on line, that process included, menu requests, dietary requests, drawing up a complex table plan and also minute changes to bookings, no easy task. Brian’s task included naming all 28 tables with different Abba song titles researched by Mary and Sheila.

Thankfully the success of the event has swept away all those concerns that were expressed in


There are lots more photos and videos on our Centenary page here

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