Chairman’s Welcome

I was delighted to be elected and follow my father and both elder brothers as the Chair of the Chatham Dining Club in September 2019. The Club’s initial purpose, when it was founded by former Army Staff College students in 1910, was to continue the lectures and discussions on current affairs they had enjoyed as students at the College. The Club has long since welcomed a much wider membership that includes any person who is interested in hearing about current and world affairs, whether or not this is part of their work or special interests. Recent topics include domestics politics, international affairs, defence, the judiciary, economics and finance, as well as theatre and the arts – with our speakers chosen for their specialist knowledge and reputation.

The Club meets in convivial surroundings to facilitate a friendly environment amongst enjoyable and interesting company with good food and wine, all of which allows members and their guests to meet with others within and outside their immediate personal sphere. Our meetings range from the relatively small to gatherings with attendance in three figures, but size is irrelevant to the informality, which contributes to the willingness of our speakers to present their views and answer questions frankly, knowing that their responses will not be quoted outside the meeting (which operates under the Chatham House Rule – what is said at a meeting may be referred to but not attributed to anyone, present or otherwise).

I first attended a meeting on the night before interviews at what became my university, with the speech and answers to questions by a senior Treasury Official reappearing in (and improving) my answers the following day. I am as a result particularly keen to encourage students and recent graduates to join us and learn from our speakers about the challenges ahead. We operate a scheme whereby any person under 35 who is invited as a guest will have their first dinner charged at half price.

I welcome our new members as Chair and hope very much that you will all not only enjoy our meetings but also, in time, decide to contribute to the Club. Not least the committee is always open to ideas for speakers and if you have any suggestions for speakers or topics please let me or any of the other members of committee know.

Welcome – and my very best wishes, combined with hoping to see you soon!

James Cripps