Coward Celebration in London - December 2005

The AGM of the Society at the Theatre Museum, Covent Garden saw a well-attended meeting discussing the past year's activities and looking at improvements for next year - more on this as they happen. The flower-laying celebrations for Sir Noël Coward's birthday were marked with memorable recollections from Dame Maggie Smith and Society Vice-Chairman Sheridan Morley. Graham Payn was much in our thoughts - his significance for the Society was lovingly included in Sheridan's remarks. These two speeches will be transcribed and included here. The Annual Luncheon at The Ivy saw 80 members enjoy a full lunch and the wonderful staging of Coward songs by Liz Robertson and her accompanist Denis King. A memorable day and the end of ten days of Coward celebrations in New York and London.














Dame Maggie Smith talks Coward

Flowers laid in the arms of The Master

Sheridan Morley reflects on the late Graham Payn's valuable contribution to furthering the name and work of Sir Noël Coward.

At the AGM thanks were given to the work of Barbara Longford as Chairman and Stephen Greenman as General Secretary. John Knowles was commended for his work on Home Chat and the website and Dominic Vlasto and Alan Farley for their groundbreaking work on the Noël Coward Music Index.

© The Noël Coward Society 2005

Later at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, John Knowles introduced the Society's guest, Dame Maggie Smith by pointing to some of the unlikely connections between the events in New York and London and the continuity of Coward's work. Whilst in New York, and thanks to Richard Holbrook of The Television and Radio Museum, John had viewed the archive recording of the 1970 Tony Awards when a young Julie Andrews (Tony Walton's first wife) had introduced the young theatre couple Robert Stephens and Maggie Smith who presented a Special Tony award to the ultimate theatre couple Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. This was immediately followed by Cary Grant who presented a Special Tony Award to Sir Noël Coward. Noël's first comment on receiving the award was, "This is my first award so please be kind."
Dame Maggie then talked with affection about Noël and recounted some wonderful anecdotes including Dame Judi Dench's favourite Coward story about the wartime bombing of London when Noel and Coley were in Ebury Street. A full transcript of her speech will be placed on the website the meantime members are able to hear Dame Maggie Smith's speech in full. Thanks to Geoff and William King for the sound recording and photographs.

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