The Reuter Society
Saturday 2 May 2009
The Society held a convivial “away” event in Geneva, attended by up to 60 members and guests.
The three-day programme, expertly organised by ex-Reuters residents, took advantage of the varied attractions of Switzerland's most international city. It was the Society's third biennial excursion, after Edinburgh (2007) and Lille (2005).
First item on the agenda, on the Thursday evening, was a lakeside banquet at the Hotel de la Paix, close to the city centre. The visitors, 40 strong, came mainly from the UK, with some notable exceptions from further afield: John Albanie, HM Hon. Consul for Grenada, with his wife Maureen, Gerard and Silvia Baverey from Cognac, Iain Smith from Portugal and John Stephens from Paris/Italy. The 'local' contingent of 20 former Reuterians and partners included Jean-Claude and Maya Marchand as well as the members of the Geneva Organising Committee (GOC): Bob Evans, Marcus Ferrar and Mary Talbot, who made it all happen (Hans Ouwerkerk was an early member of the GOC but had to drop out due to family reasons).
The dinner speaker was Keith Rockwell, Director, Information and External Relations Division of the World Trade Organisation in Geneva, who gave us a challenging but none too cheerful assessment of the future of the international news media.
On the Friday morning the visitors enjoyed a rare, mind-boggling guided tour of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, a science fiction establishment on the French-Swiss border where microscopic physical particles are accelerated around a 27-kilometre underground tunnel until they are forced to collide, in the interests of the most advanced nuclear research. CERN is, incidentally, a key setting for the new Dan Brown film, 'Angels and Demons', and another recent visitor was Tom Hanks.
The Reuter Society group moved on by coach to the Red Cross Museum on the heights above Geneva, for lunch and a guided tour, and then re-grouped in the evening just across the border in France for a gastronomic treat at Bob and Doodie Evans' local brasserie, L'Insolite.
Saturday morning was devoted to a walkabout tour of Geneva's Old Town led by a knowledgeable and entertaining guide, an American lady resident in Geneva for over 30 years. The programme concluded that evening with a Stragglers' Dinner at a new restaurant called Créations-Sensations, recently launched by two ex-Reuters colleagues, Nathalie and Malcolm Hyde, who opened it especially to welcome the 23 survivors. "Judging by the quality of the meal, we can understand why it is very successful with Geneva bankers," one of the diners commented.
Footnote: The impeccable organisation of the event was complemented by splendid weather throughout. ■