The Cornwall Golf Union staged its Annual Dinner at The Hotel Bristol, Newquay on Friday night. Having been unable to hold the event in 2020, due to the pandemic, this was a chance for the county and its clubs to get together and celebrate a number of achievements.
A splendidly decorated room welcomed some 140 diners representing 19 of the county’s 29 clubs as they assembled to enjoy the proceedings.
CGU County President Andrew Clotworthy (Tehidy Park) - dressed in Cornish tartan - welcomed the diners and referred to bringing change to the dinner in both appearance and format with prizes to be presented between courses and a desire to enable the guest speaker to deliver in good time. The county had listened to justified concerns and complaints and had done its best to bring about this change. He expressed huge thanks to all the team from the hotel for their hard work and support putting together the event in what are difficult times in the hospitality sector.
Clotworthy and Vice President Martin Edwards (Perranporth) combined to run proceedings, the latter proposing a toast to the many absent friends sadly missing since the last gathering. The first set of prizes to be presented were to the winners of the golf played by kind permission at Newquay GC earlier in the day. 3rd spot went to Perranporth Course Manager Rob Cook with Lanhydrock’s Jack Macdonald runner up. Winner though was Justin Lusher (St Mellion) with an excellent 43-point haul.
Radnor GC’s proprietor Jon Barber and fellow team member Nick Rees received the Summer Handicap League trophy as 2021 winners, retaining it following their 2019 victory.
CGU County Captain Charlie Phillips made two presentations but before doing so acknowledged the presence of 2021 Cornwall Amateur County Championship winner Jamie Greet (Mullion, below) complete with the Championship trophy.
The Channel League Player of the Year, sponsored by Rowett Insurance Broking Ltd and the CGU, was shared in 2021. Matt Richards (West Cornwall) received the prize from Phillips for the joint nomination together with Adam Bridgewater (Launceston) who was unable to be present - for good reason!.
The award for Cornwall’s Player of the Year was made by Phillips to a very worthy recipient in 18-year-old Thomas Stephens (Trevose). Tom had a great competitive season, was selected to represent the county at Southwest Week for the first time, played several Channel League matches and finished very well in a number of national events across the season. In receiving the award Tom thanked the County Captain and County Officials for their support and for the opportunities provided to him across the year. In addition, he expressed immense and sincere gratitude to his father Mark for the many hours spent behind the wheel delivering him to respective tournaments.
One of the honoured guests at the dinner was England Golf President Graham Yates who heaped praise on the CGU for their innovative style in this year’s dinner. Whilst historically a black-tie affair, this year there was no insistence on this and as a result a broader audience was participating and, as Yates noted, a greater female presence in the room. This inclusive approach was one very much encouraged by the National Governing Body and Yates expressed his delight at being present and able to celebrate with the CGU to whom he proposed a toast.
Ahead of his speech Clotworthy proposed the loyal toast and another to the honoured guests. He spoke first of how Covid-19 had presented all of us with many challenges with adaptability becoming a key strength. He said the priority for the CGU had been and remains facilitating golf in Cornwall, expanding the interest in the game and having an ability to compete outside of the county. He thanked his committees, who had assisted in how best the Union could deliver, advise and support its Clubs and members. He highlighted and thanked both St Austell and Truro Golf Clubs for hosting the county championships in 2020 and 2021 these having been two of the most successful county events in his memory.
Clotworthy paid tribute to the juniors for their performances, under the excellent leadership of their President Matt Tucknott (Radnor), to County Seniors Captain Paul Clahane (Trevose) for the success of their season and to County Captain Charlie Phillips (Newquay), whom he praised for his contribution to the initiative of growing golf primarily with the aim of getting more juniors and younger people playing the game, so hopefully giving future county captains a bigger pool of talent from which to select.
He thanked his predecessor – Mike Ellis (Trevose) – for all his hard work and for the support in his term of office, his Vice President Martin Edwards for his support and good counsel and County Secretary Chris Pountney for his work on behalf of the CGU. He expressed thanks to his wife Katherine for her invaluable contribution.
Clotworthy thanked Graham Yates for his attendance and requested he express our gratitude to the national governing body for helping golfers throughout the pandemic.
Cornwall Golf Union had been privileged to be nominated as a finalist in the 2020 County of the Year category in the England Golf Awards. Cornwall were up against the big names of Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, and Gloucestershire, and whilst we were runners up this was a fantastic achievement and testament to all the contributors within the CGU.
Also nominated were Whitsand Bay who went one step better and won the Sustainability category - an outstanding achievement. For a small club such as Whitsand Bay to be awarded such an accolade recognises the commitment to running an organic golf course with a small team and very much leading the way. Clotworthy thanked Whitsand Bay for helping to put Cornwall on the map, something duly acknowledged by those present.
Then it was time for guest speaker Josh Boggi to address the audience. A triple amputee ex-Parachute Squadron Afghan Veteran Boggi was spell binding as he delivered an inspirational, factual yet humorous account of how he sustained his traumatic injuries after stepping on an improvised explosive device during a night-time patrol on New Year’s Eve 2010 whilst on his third tour. As he put it ‘I went out with a bang’.
The manner in which Boggi accepted the loss of two legs, an arm, and what had happened to him, and then chose not to let it defeat him, was to the listeners difficult to properly comprehend. To recover, move on, be fitted, and get accustomed to prosthetics was an achievement. But then to go on to compete in the Inaugural Invictus Games in London, win a bronze medal in the Cycling Time Trial, compete in the 2016 Games in Orlando and take home 2 Silver Medals in Cycling and 2 Gold Medals in Rowing is truly remarkable.
Since then, Boggi has as part of a services team taken on one of the world’s toughest endurance cycling events – the 3081-mile Race Across America – and also qualified as the world’s first triple amputee rescue diver. Again, with his fantastic self-deprecating humour he explained how his 4’6” stature without legs in a black wetsuit made him look like a seal in the water as his training took place in shark infested waters – “…and what do sharks eat? - Seals”. Displaying a picture of how he was delivered pre-dive to the water in a wheelbarrow was another example of the humour invested in Boggi. Diving he said affords no pain whatsoever and gives him the greatest of pleasures.
It was clear to the diners listening in awe that Boggi does not understand the words ‘can’t‘ and ‘impossible’ and that his mantra is simply to overcome any challenge and not be defined by those life changing injuries. Boggi quite rightly deserved the immediate standing ovation granted to him as he finished his presentation. A truly inspirational figure who should remain in the minds of all those blessed to hear his story. And despite a scheduled early start the following morning Josh very graciously enjoyed the company and conversation with many of the diners post dinner.
And that was the dinner 2021!