Report on RTIWM 2017, Tallinn, Estonia [Bruce McKay]
I arrived in Tallinn after a 25½ hour journey from South Africa on Thursday midday, rather tired but when I came through the arrival doors there was a welcoming party from Estonia and immediately they placed an ice-cold beer into my hand…things started looking up. A short trip to the Tallinnk Hotel and Spa was then undertaken. On arriving at the hotel, I was impressed to see that my room was ready (only 12h30) so with an early check in I went up to the room, unpacked, enjoyed a well-deserved shower after the looong journey and went back downstairs to meet up with some Tablers. On arriving down stairs, I registered for the conference and was warmly greeted by everyone present.
I then moved towards the bar, immediately spotted a few 41 club members whom I greeted and naturally shared a few beers with. At around 17h30 the circle at our table had enlarged to being quite a few 41ers and Tablers all sharing a few laughs. At around 18h00 we left for the evening function which was an outdoor BBQ, but it was pouring with rain and I mean pouring. With all the rain, we were not sure what to expect when we arrived at the BBQ but to my surprise after a 20-minute drive we arrived at the open-air park where we had a short walk or run (depends on how wet you wanted to be) to get to the safety of the marquee. Low and behold outside we saw the BBQ with about 25 webers, a few open fires and a spit going well – even while raining.
Needless to say, the music started playing, the bar was in full swing and it was still raining. At one point, I dared the rain and ran across the lawn to where the spit was turning as I just had to have a taste. Well it was worth the rain as it tasted awesome. The food displayed was great, the meat was fantastic and the company even better. There were some games for the guys and gals who dared as well a special treat. The Estonians decided to demonstrate their BBQ skills by grilling some rib-eye steaks directly on the charcoal. My first reaction was ‘No Way’ but then after tasting it …Wow it was really great.
On the Friday morning, it was time for the AGM and was well attended by RTI countries with 50 countries represented. 41 Club was allowed the opportunity to greet everyone and as you all know we had a set meeting for Sunday morning with the new board as well. The meeting room was a little small for everyone and the meeting took most of the day leading up to the banner exchange after a late lunch. There are currently 54 member countries in RTI with just over 32,000 members….which is rather alarming and the concern for the dwindling numbers is real. This is something we as an association will be discussing at this years’ 41 international HYM and more detailed feedback of the RTIWM will be given then.
After the banner exchange, it was a brisk but short walk back to the hotel, change and off to the International evening. This event was extremely successful and it was really great to see all the countries present showcasing their country’s fair. They all had to have some eats and drinks available for the somewhat 1,000 persons attending. It was held in the Estonia Harbour museum and such an apt venue for a function of this magnitude. I really think that this is something we as 41 International need to look at for a possible evening at our HYM and/or AGM. The event really creates such a great vibe and the fellowship is amazing. The band for the night was 5 sisters and what a great show it was.
Saturday morning saw us having our 41 International board meeting from around 09h00 to 14h00. Amongst other things discussed was the HYM workshops with member country feedback already received (please discussion the questionnaire sent out with your associations and send feedback); the HYM and French participation as Guests; this year and next years’ budget; the membership database and countries interested in joining the association and many more, minutes to be made available soon.
The afternoon was a relatively relaxed one with fellowship in and around the bar for the afternoon. Saturday evening saw us attending the Presidents’ Banquet which was a fantastic affair with around 1,500 persons in attendance. The awards ceremony was all glitter and glamour with pre-dinner drinks prior to being seated for dinner. The band was great, the food was great and the fellowship even better.
After a very loooong night the new RTI board decided to move our meeting to 1 hour earlier on Sunday morning which almost caught me off guard. Needless to say, we met with the new board and discussed the way forward for a mutually beneficial relationship. We also discussed the roles of each association, the feelings about the possible name change to 41 International and the thoughts surrounding this; we also requested that after the now 3rd visit to the RTIWM, we as 41 club be allowed a 15-minute slot at the AGM to present the association to them, what we are doing and where we are going. They agreed to allowing us a page on their website that will depict news etc. happening in our association and naturally we will reciprocate. Fabian has already loaded the RTI page onto our website, please go and visit it for all the latest information on RTI. I believe that it was a constructive meeting and await feedback from RTI, within the next 2 weeks on all points discussed. We will keep you updated as we receive the information.
The 41 International Board and the Association then wished President Yann and his team the best of luck for their year and ensured them of our continued support.
After the meeting, most delegates departed to the airport with only a few of us leaving later we decided to go for a stroll in the old town and share a final beer together. Once again a lengthy flight was staring me in the face. After arriving back home on Monday morning after a 22-hour journey I was exhausted but needed to get to the office…so it all started again.
Thank you to all the 41 International members that were present at the weekend and thank you to all the Round Tablers, Hannes and his team from Estonia that put on such a great event. This is just a short report of our time spent in Estonia.
Until we meet up again….