The Roast Beef Club was named with the French term of endearment for the English in mind – “Les Rosbifs”. The club was formed in 2008 when a group of 30 friends, led by Joel Baseley, came together to celebrate St. George’s Day.
All attendees were given a club tie and a very jolly lunch ensued. One person happened to have a cricket bat with them that had been signed by a number of (very) minor county cricketers and this was sportingly offered for auction. It raised £500 which was promptly donated to The Lord’s Taverners, the principal cricketing charity.
Spirits were high that day, and it was recognised that this might be a template for future fun and fundraising. We decided to focus our efforts on the British military – giving directly to a chosen regimental charity each year. These charities then administer the funds as they see fit, generally supporting veterans and their families cope with life outside of the Armed Forces. Often these brave people have the added complication of life changing disabilities on top of the difficult transition into the civilian work place.
At the heart of the club there is friendship, humour, a common interest in sport and a sense of gratitude towards our Armed Forces. This seems to be a popular combination. The 2018 Lunch was attended by 800 men and women, and we raised £225,000 for Care for Casualties, the regimental charity of the Rifles, and the SAS’s Clocktower Foundation. We now donate 10% of the funds raised at each annual lunch to the Clocktower Foundation. In the last seven years alone we have raised over £1,150,000 pounds for five different military charities.
The lunches are attended by numerous sporting personalities, particularly from the world of rugby, and we can boast an incredible list of speakers. Whilst we are proud to have many well-known English sportsmen and women among our members it is our Military heroes that we look upon with particular reverence. To be in the same room as triple amputee and endurance athlete Mark Ormrod is humbling. To hear the first hand account of how Jonson Beharry was awarded his VC is moving. To match Brian Wood MC pint for pint is impossible.
The Roast Beef looks to grow and to raise more money for military charities, and in 2018 we passed the magic figure of £1 million. However, we try to keep focused on friendship, inclusivity, camaraderie and having fun whilst giving a little bit back.
NB: The Roast Beef Club is not a registered charity. It operates as a non-profit limited company run by volunteers.