On the 27thSeptember, the International Lyceum Club of London officially celebrated the 120th Anniversary of the Lyceum and the Relaunch of the Founding Club. The events, presided by the President of the International Lyceum Club of London, Lauriane Bradford, took place at the Royal Air Force Club, the iconic address where the first Lyceum Club opened its door in 1904. The President of the International Association of the Lyceum Clubs, Muriel Hannart and the Vice- President of the Northern Hemisphere, Monique Gächter, attended the events with other guests from France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Switzerland.
Carefully planned by the Committee members, the events included a series of inspiring and informative presentations on Constance Smedley’s life, the founder of the Lyceum, the Lyceum Club between 1909 and 2003, and the club today, including our vision and innovative project, Fellowher@, to support young British women artists.
Two very special guests attended the meeting: Diana Armfield, niece of Constance and Maxwell Armfield, who knew her aunt and gave a poignant and personal testimony of the clever and formidable Constance ‘with those dancing eyes and expression’ (…) ‘who drew people to her, to help bring about such marvellous events: plays, productions, pageants, groups and the most important -clubs for professional women, all from her wheel chair; it was not allowed to prevent her achieving the worthwhile enterprises she excelled in. (…) she had so much to give, and she gave it, fully.’
The second guest speaker, Helen Whittaker, a well known British artist and stained glass specialist, came specially from York, to explain her art and her sources of inspiration. Helen has so far realised more than 100 commissioned works as well as restoration of ancient stained glass. The highlight of Helen’s talk was the presentation of two major stained glasses commissioned in 2008 and in 2018 by the Royal Air Force Club. The latest one, particularly appealed to our members, was to celebrate the women in the RAF. Those stunning works decorate the staircase leading to the first floor and the space between the 601 Squadron and the Presidents’ rooms where our Gala evening was taking place, bringing light to a dark space of the Club by playing with gold leaves and internal light.
To mark the celebrations, two beautiful cakes specially baked by Luminary Bakery, were delivered for the occasion. Luminary Bakery is ‘a social enterprise designed to offer opportunities for women to build a future for themselves, [by providing] a safe and professional environment where women can grow holistically – encouraging ambition, restoration and second chances. [Luminary Bakery] uses baking as a tool to take women on a journey to employability and entrepreneurship, equipping them with transferable skills for the working world, [by offering] courses, work experience and paid employment within our bakery, empowering women to build their career.’
The beautiful recital by Elena Kokka, internationally renowned pianist and soprano and member of the Club gave a joyful note to the Gala evening. Then guests and members in sparkling attire headed to a sumptuous table decorated with blue and yellow bouquets, the colour of the Lyceum. The traditional speech was followed by a delicious three course meal but above all it was a marvellous international and joyful gathering, and we all raise our glass to Constance, to our club, to our friendship and to our future. Long live The Lyceum!
The following morning, our guide and historian Becky Laxton - Bass -Director of Women of London- led us from the Memorial to Agatha Christie to the statue of Millicent Fawcett on Parliament square. It was not only very informative but also very entertaining for our visitors and members. After 21/2 hours, we indulged ourselves at the Two Chairmen pub with traditional British food. An excellent and relaxing way to say goodbye to our guests.