After spending five years in hotel management in England, Switzerland and Kenya, I went into the wine trade with Stowells of Chelsea, thanks to John cleverly MW who gave me advice. Then to Charles Kinlock, where I moved up through management. I took my wine exams and was lucky in 1963 winning a Bourse de Voyage, tour of the Scottish Whisky 1963 won the top scholarship which took me to South Africa for a study course. Joined Percy Fox shippers. I formed my own wine import company as an agent for French growers and retired in 2010 after also being the wine consultant to Le Tante Claire, a 3* Guide Michelin restaurant for 17 years.
I went on the Champagne Academy in 1966. We had a bad start as twelve of us arrived at Heathrow to find it fog bound. Some elected to drive, some tried the train and some waited and hoped and the fog did clear so off we went. In Paris we were met by a stretch limo which was far too long for some of the narrow village road.
It was a fantastic training course. I was most impressed with the palates of the tasters and how they kept the House styles so constant. I made some good friends and still see David Skinner (Chairman 1981). I was surprised winning the cup for the exam!!! I will never forget the middle weekend in Paris as guests of our hosts.
As Chairman in 1979 I enjoyed the role following on from Don Hewitson, as we both endeavoured to raise the Champagne image after the last 2/3 years of financial fall back in the country. During the year I was so well supported by the Presidential House of Veuve Clicquot on my three visits to Champagne. I attended all the dinners, including Ireland, one never to be forgotten. The London Dinner was held in a West End hotel and my guest speaker was Ronald Ellis (one of Maggie Thatcher’s team).
Lastly we ended the year with a Dinner Dance going up and down the Thames on a barge, ending at midnight and the end of my year in office.