Guests at the fundraising dinner enjoying the superlative food and wine © Rebecca E Lilley

A Memorable Fundraising Evening at the Belgian Ambassador’s Residence

By Martin Lutyens

Members will remember the Summer Newsletter article describing the origin of the parade of the Belgian armed forces, which takes place each July at the Cenotaph in Whitehall — a privilege accorded to no other non-Commonwealth country. In September, another event took place, connecting Belgium with the works of Edwin Lutyens.

Thanks to the generosity of Guy Trouveroy, Belgian ambassador to the UK, The Lutyens Trust was invited to hold a fundraising evening on September 17 at his elegant residence in Belgrave Square. It happened that he had been invited the same evening to a royal engagement, which meant he could not be with us. Consequently, his wife Nathalie Trouveroy was our hostess, organising the proceedings with apparently effortless efficiency.

The evening began with a reception, drinks and canapés for some 65 members, followed by an excellent talk by Victoria Wallace, Director General of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). Victoria had kindly accepted our invitation to talk about the Commission’s origins, development and current work: a topical subject, given the current commemorations of the First World War, the centenary — coming up in 2017 — of the Commission’s founding and the connection between it, Belgium and Edwin Lutyens. Victoria touched first on the influence Lutyens had on the early days of the Commission, adding “we are the fortunate beneficiaries of over 200 of Lutyens’s cemetery and monumental schemes, and his design influence and vision for commemoration have a global impact”.

Continuing with the terrible context of the Commission’s founding in 1917, she took us, with a brilliant selection of slides, through its early days under Fabian Ware, the dangers and difficulties of tracing, registering and marking graves and finally to its gradual transition from a burial and records agency to a heritage organisation, caring today for graves and memorials at 23,000 locations in 154 countries. Fortunately, she concluded, even in today’s climate of austerity, CWGC is one of the few Government funded bodies whose budget is tied to inflation, enabling it to meet its goal of ensuring that each site is cared for — and will be — forever.

Nathalie then led into dinner Victoria and the 32 members who had elected to stay for it. The ambassador’s chef excelled himself with a memorable dinner and the wines, too, were exceptional. The evening ended with brandy and liqueurs. Our hostess was the embodiment of warmth and charm throughout the evening, and the Trust is extremely grateful to her and her husband for allowing us to hold this event at their residence and for generously meeting the entire cost of the evening. We are also grateful to all those members who attended the event and whose support raised over £4,800 (including Gift Aid) to further the Trust’s work.