St George's Day Lunch 2014 - Special guest appearances by Graham Poll and Rachel Yankey OBE

Posted: 29th April 2014, 2:59pm

340 local business representatives celebrated our Patron Saint St George in the newly refurbished St Albans Suite at Sopwell House Hotel on Friday. Guests enjoyed a delicious traditional English roast beef 3 course lunch with guests from all over the business community. 

Local dignitaries in attendance were our MP Anne Main and our Mayor the Right Worshipful Cllr. Annie Brewster, Annie paid tribute to our Chamber of Commerce saying it has to be the best in the country, she congratulated everyone attending the lunch aand supporting the Chamber activities and its fundraising objectives.

Our event sponsor was Clydesdale Bank led locally by David Clarke (pictured) who said he is “Proud to be associated with the St Albans District Chamber of Commerce and sponsor the St George's Day Lunch. Clydesdale Bank is grateful to for the chance to play a positive role in what is an inclusive caring business community not to mention such a huge amount of money raised for Grove House Hospice here today”

Before lunch we were delighted to introduce a very special guest who joined us for the afternoon, Miss Rachel Yankey OBE. Since making her debut in 1997, Yankey has appeared on 129 occasions for England and is the most capped player ever to play for England, ahead of male goalkeeper Peter Shilton with 125.

Rachel was part of the Great Britain squad for the 2012 London Olympics where she first met Chamber Director and former England Captain David Clarke.  Rachel plays for the English FAWSL club Arsenal, and for the England National Team. She plays as a left winger or forward, and wears the number 11 for both Arsenal and England.

David asked Rachel how she felt the game had changed for women in recent years? Rachel replied “When I was younger I had to play football in an all male team as there were not many girls playing the game, there are now so many opportunities for women and girls to play and it is growing in popularity all the time. I feel it is really important to raise awareness of the game and encourage people to come and watch us play. There is no better feeling than putting on your England shirt and playing for your country”  

Personally I felt honoured to be sat with Rachel and David two professional footballers and inspiring ambassadors for their country and sport.

 After lunch our main guest speaker took to the stage Mr Graham Poll, English former football referee in the Premier League and is considered the best English referee of the last 25 years with 26 years of experience.  Graham was regarded as one of the most prominent referees in the Premiership, often taking charge of the highest profile games. His final domestic game in a career spanning 1,544 matches was the Championship play-off final on 28 May 2007

At the 2006 World Cup in Germany, he refereed two matches successfully and, had he continued to receive high marks from assessors, would have been a candidate to take charge of the final. However, in his third game, Croatia vs Australia, he cautioned the same player (left back Josip Šimunić) three times before sending the player off. Poll retired from refereeing international tournament finals matches citing his error in the match. He continued to referee in the Premiership, Champions League and on international games, but said he would not allow himself to be nominated to represent the FA at any tournament finals as he felt he had his c

Graham, was hugely entertaining with a good balance of humour, sincerity and experience in his presentation to our guest who gave him a standing ovation at the end. Graham said “I attend many corporate like this and I have to say how much I have enjoyed the St Albans Chamber's hospitality. I hope to return to this event next year as a guest, what a great Chamber and what a brilliant atmosphere. Well done and thank you to the organiser Lisa”

During the event a raffle took place in aid of the Mayors charity the Living Room and after the speeches Chris Small from Hertfordshire Auctions helped us raise almost £16,000 for Grove House Hospice. A huge thank you to all those involved donated prizes for our auction and raffle.

Lastly we must acknowledge our fantastic sponsors who by supporting us enable us to hold such prestigious and successful events for the business community and awareness of our local charities.

They are: Clydesdale Bank, Principal Security Consultants/Chauffeurs, Havana, Debenhams Ottaway Solicitors, Impact Logo Products, Giant Cycle Stores Radlett, SG Hambros Bank Ltd, Kingston Smith LLP, PwC, Blue Feather Photography, Moonlite Entertainments, Hertfordshire Auctions and My Mustard.

For more information about joining the Chamber of Commerce and becoming a member go to

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