Report from 41 Club Poland AGM 2017 held in Gdańsk [Alex Abela]
Together We Shall Lead …. Through Friends and Fellowship with 41 Club Poland for their AGM 2017 held in Gdańsk between 16th and 18th June 2017
Dear 41 International Members,
It all started at the 41 International AGM in Sun City, South Africa, when President Karol of 41 Club Poland approached me for some minor clarification about the accounts (what else for me??). We got chatting about our days in Round Table and how it would be great to visit again. He promptly reminded me of the AGM was to be held in a few weeks time and asked him if they have international guests. He said that only a few would turn up. As 41 Club Poland is a small association, it was time to lend my support and visit. At the time I was not aware that I would have the honour to represent the Board as well.
As our 41 International President could not travel during this period in June, he asked me to stand in for him and represent 41 International at this AGM, which I gladly accepted.
This is not my first visit to Gdańsk, Poland and oh my has it changed since 2001. Many improvements have taken place and it is a great city to visit.
I arrived in Gdańsk from Malta via Amsterdam in early Friday afternoon. I was met and greeted by Lukasz Stolarczyk (IRO) and Cezary Bak (Vice President). My host for the weekend Karol Rzewuski (President) arrived soon after accompanied by my good friend Andy Waite from GB&I, who was also being hosted by Karol.
Other international guests for the AGM included Peter Good (IRO GB&I), Manfred Willms (Old Table Germany – National Secretary), Manu Eskola (Editor – Old Table Finland) and Sami Tyven (Old Table Finland OT56 Nokia), the latter two gentlemen with their respective wives.
A couple of days previous, we received a small change in the program due to the restaurant getting the date of the gala dinner wrong. SHIT (Seriously Happy International Tabling!) happens, I suppose. So, the program for Saturday and Friday evenings were interchanged with the Gala Dinner on Friday evening, as what happens in GB&I conferences.
Until the evening program we had some time to kill, so Karol suggested we go straight to Sopot where he lives and go out for a small bite to eat with his extraordinary wife Jadwiga and Andy at a small beach restaurant in Sopot, belonging to another ex-tabler from Sopot. It was a great afternoon, the sun shining, the weather beautiful and overall relatively warm. Later on that afternoon, I got chatting with Karol’s son and passed information about YAP and what a great experience this is.
The Gala Dinner was held at Villa Uphagena Restaurant and we were treated like Kings and Queens. It is old mansion house converted into a chic restaurant. We all gathered there, with pre-dinner drinks. At the beginning of dinner, Lukasz introduced himself and thanked Grzegorz Bujak for his work behind the scenes in convening this AGM as well all other Polish ex-tablers. He thanked all present for attending the AGM weekend and supporting 41 Club Poland. After having the starter and the soup, it was time for the Banner Exchange. It was great to see Karol emotional and moved at this interchange of banners and gifts. This is another facet of the true spirit of tabling. The rest of the dinner was delicious with a mouth-watering entrée and super light scrumptious dessert (Yeah right!!). After dinner, we all proceeded home or to the respective hotels.
Saturday morning saw the proceedings start with the AGM at 10:00 at Conference Hall at the Centre of Maritime Culture, overlooking the River Motlawa. The AGM had the element of unformal formality to it, with both Polish and English reporting. All members gave out the report and most cases Lukasz was kind enough to translate and fill in the blanks. Lukasz is a very hands-on guy and is probably a perfectionist too. Reminds me of someone I know!! It was great to see the spirit of these guys shine through. Although a small club, they still manage to do quite a bit apart from the usual wining and dining. They are organising events to increase the funds to raise for charity, which is always good. They are trying their best to get other “clubs” of ex-tablers to join more and more and formalise their relationship further. Another sticking point was the relationship with Round Table Poland. The latter is very weak and needs assistance to grow. We were to meet a few of them that evening. That was my job for the evening to encourage and push gently in the right direction.
It was then my time to pass on President’s Bruce message to council and floor members. In his address, the message was loud and clear. Main areas included the plan for his year, the issue of the name change which needs to be finalised by next HYM depending on input from the delegates of all member countries. The message also revolved around the relevance and attractiveness of 41 International to ex-tablers and how we can provide tools to make this happen. Finally the message indicated some of the topics that will be discussed during the HYM in Italy in October 2017. I also presented the President’s badge for this year charity drive. Given the few people, I did manage to sell around 15 pins.
Towards the end of the AGM proceedings, we witnessed the change of the guard from Karol Rzewuski to Cezary Bak. The Presidential jewels were changed at this stage. President Cezary presented his Board for year 2017-8. Vice President will be Grzegorz Bujak, whilst Łukasz Stolarczyk will remain as IRO, as did Jerzy Kobyliński, who will remain Treasurer for another year. Members are Mika Surakka (originally from Finland) and Past President Karol. In his opening speech as President, Cezary stressed that he wants to build on what has been achieved so far. His main effort will however be to organise with the help of members, events to raise much needed funds for a local hospice foundation, the Fundacja Hospicyjna (https://www.facebook.com/FundacjaHospicyjna/?ref=br_rs), which Łukasz’s wife Alicja is presiding and helping immensely. To this end they introduced a special coin which they are selling at 20 Zloty (app €5), which he sold after the meeting. If anybody wishes to help and assist more actively, all you need to do is contact the Gdańsk ex-tablers or follow the Facebook link above. More events are envisaged this coming year.
After the AGM, we then moved to the pier to catch the Black Pearl and sail on the Motlawa River and see some of the historical sights of Gdańsk from a unique perspective. On board, we were served various rounds of Polish vodka and canapes, just to whet our appetite before lunch. When we arrived back, we went back to the top floor restaurant of the Centre of Maritime Culture where we had a great lunch with free-flowing wines. In the afternoon, we proceeded to the newly opened World War 2 Museum. The architecture of the museum is extremely modern. The exhibit is a must-see museum in Gdańsk. The main exhibition presents the history and experience of WWII not only from Polish perspective, but also in a wide global context. There was simply not enough time to visit it fully. It was a very humbling experience of what man can do and did including all the atrocities of war.
There is no rest for the wicked. After the visit to the Museum, we then went for the evening event which was a craft Beer and Meal Party at the aptly named, Craft Beer Hotel Central, in the centre of Gdańsk. This was a very enjoyable and east evening, sampling several types of locally produced craft beer. The meal was very good too, with the rack of ribs to die for. Also present were the member of Round Table Poland, Michał Nowicki. He is a very young tabler, full of enthusiasm. It was probably the drink releasing the flow of ideas that evening, and I very much enjoyed passing my experience of local and international tabling to Michal, who must have wondered what on earth hit him. I tried to encourage him did he not stay at home that evening with his wife and child. Michał might potentially become a ‘crystallisation core’ for new Round Table in Poland. As things stand, the older generation of existing tablers are unable to do it by themselves. Getting these young tablers involved, is the right move forward, because it can motivate new Round Tablers to get involved. This is also what Past President Engelbert had advised during last year’s AGM. The evening came to an end with a tour of the brewery, a very interesting tour indeed. This was closely followed by our Finnish friend Sami Tyven, who is himself a beer brewer in Finland.
Since I had an early morning Ryanair flight on Sunday, I was unable to join in for the brunch proceedings. However, true to his perfect hospitable trait, Karol prepared a small packed breakfast for me, which I appreciated immensely.
Next year’s AGM will be held on the weekend of 1st to 3rd June 2018, in Krakow. This is where President Cezary lives. It plans to be another great AGM and it is one beautiful city to visit as well.
My overall impression of this weekend was one of immense personal hospitality given to all of us foreign delegates. This is an experience and AGM weekend that I will not forget so easily. Except for Mika, I have known all the Polish ex-tablers for around 17 years, so meeting them again was so special for me. I want to take this opportunity to say a Special Thank you to Karol and Jadwiga and Maciej Rzewuski for hosting me in their lovely home. Another special set of than yous must go to Cezary Bak, Grzegorz Bujak, Łukasz Stolarczyk, Jerzy Kobyliński and Mika Surakka for all that they did for us and in making my stay one that I shall cherish for years to come.
Aż się spotkamy, wiwaty.
Yours in Continued Friendship,
41 International Treasurer 2015-2018
41 Club Melita