British Flair (formerly British Day) is to take place in Hamburg for the 30th time. This alone is a good reason for a Jubilee Pimm’s! The event continues to provide a superb insight into the British way of life – a showcase for many typical and traditional highlights: welly-wanging, Paddington Bear with stories for the children, street theatre, Scottish Highland games, pop and classical music as well as demonstrations of some typical sporting activities such as cricket, rugby and polo. Visitors can admire British classic cars and buy traditional British products such as clothing, food and drink. Not to mention animals: horses, dogs and usually even birds of prey as well as sheep. From the very beginning the proceeds of our Grand Tombola have been donated to good causes (chosen charitable institutions, mainly in Hamburg). For the past 25 years an Open Air Proms Concert has been offered under a canopy of stars in Klein Flottbek.
30 years of British Day/British Flair – How it all began and developed
1991 – Peter Rogers and Axel Riecke meet up at the Anglo-German Club, British Day is born and establishes itself on the grounds of the Hamburger Polo Club. For 20 years these four names are inseparably associated with British Day. At that time, with only 10 companies supporting the event, a few hundred visitors make their way to the Polo Club to watch cricket, rugby and golf as well as Scottish dancing, try their luck at welly-wanging and darts, listen to bagpipe music and, over a “nice cup of tea”, enjoy cucumber sandwiches prepared by the ladies of the English Church.
1992 – A “Queen lookalike” honours British Day with her visit and is chauffeured to the Clubhouse in a Rolls Royce, regally waving to the visitors. Thanks to the Anglo-German Club, comedy, tug-o-war, polo and a regimental band are added to the programme. Around 1,500 visitors enjoy a full day of entertainment and shopping.
1993 – Previously active on the stand with sandwiches, tea and cake, Sue Austin now becomes the organiser of the event. There is nobody who knows the quintessence of British Day better than Sue. She has put her heart and soul into the event and thus laid the foundation stone for its success over the years to come. During this third year the organisers succeeded in donating the superb amount of DM 20,000 to a self-help group of parents of children with cancer. What a huge success!
1994 – The event is opened by the British Ambassador, Sir Nigel Broomfield and an MP, the Minister of Education, Tim Boswell. For the first time the group “The Blarney” performs and Irish folk music becomes an essential part of the event. A further type of sport has its debut: under the professional leadership of the professional sportsmen and –women of “Archery Direct” visitors can try their hand at archery. The favourite with the children is the Punch and Judy Show. One visitor expressed his enthusiasm as follows: “I really only wanted to pop in for an hour so that I can at least say I have been, but then I stayed the whole day. There is so much to see and do.”
1995 – British Day again extends its programme: Sheep are herded and driven together by Border Collies in the Sheepdog Trials, one can have shot at clay pigeons, play croquet – the company SØR Outfitters generously sponsors equipment, clothing and trophies - and Colgate provides a hot air balloon. Verity Ruecker now assists Sue in her organisation work; the first signs of changes for the following year are becoming apparent. To quote a German businessman: “You Britons present yourselves so amazingly, and then you give all the money to a German charity!” We are very pleased to hear that. This year the number of companies and organisations taking part has increased to 52.
1996 – British Day is no longer a correct title, but it continues to be used. One single day now becomes a whole weekend. And can now even boast a further highlight: We see the debut of a British Day open-air concert on the Saturday evening along the lines of the famous “Last Night of the Proms” as it is performed in the Royal Albert Hall in London. Conducted by Robert Stehli and sponsored by Kalus BMC, the Hamburger Mozart-Orchester plays for us. The first programme booklet is published, further activities are added: “The Grand Theatre of Lemmings” provide us with plenty of laughs and “Shire Falconry” present its impressive birds of prey. A helicopter belonging to the 1st Army Air Corps lands at the Polo Club and impresses both young and older spectators.
1997 – Hamburg’s First Mayor, Dr. Henning Voscherau, opens British Day and a few burly Scotsmen attract attention by tossing tree trunks around the field; they call this Highland Games and continue to form an essential part of the entertainment programme throughout the years to come. The number of visitors reaches an impressive 17,000 – including 3,000 concert-goers. A new musical benchmark is set.
1998 – The musical entertainment programme is extended by a daytime jazz session, and the Classic Cars Parade is becoming increasingly popular. The PIMM’s Bar is opened, barkeeper Bob is and remains a permanent fixture behind the bar for many years. In the spirit of Cool Britannia the renowned London Club “The Ministry of Sound” is invited to British Day and delights about 1,000 party-goers on the Friday evening. Thanks to the great success of the event we are asked by an organiser in Dusseldorf to help him to set up British Day & Country Fair in Burg Linn in Krefeld.
1999 – BAT takes on the financing of the concert with the request that an English orchestra should be engaged. The era of the “City of London Sinfonia” begins, together with the English soloist Deborah Hawksley and the Monteverdi Choir Hamburg. Nicolae Moldoveanu conducts the performance for the first, but by far not the last time. British Day develops cult status and firmly establishes itself in the calendar of annual events in Hamburg.
2000 – On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of British Day, the ReBeatles, are invited, a tribute band that is here to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first Beatles performance on the Reeperbahn. Jack Russells and shire horses appear for the first time and there is a surprise animal act: genuine gorillas romp around the field. Or are they perhaps not genuine? Onlookers are not quite sure. Almost 100 companies and societies attract 19,000 enthusiastic visitors to the Polo Club grounds where they can breathe in a whiff of the British Isles.
2001 – Paddington Bear drops by and is still around today to entertain the kiddies. Demonstrations by a cook from the United Kingdom and the sport lacrosse again supplement the programme. We experience our most successful year so far. It goes to show that British cuisine is totally underrated.
2002 – True to style we celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee with an exhibition of replicas of the Crown Jewels, professionally supervised by Colin Smith, a genuine Royal Beefeater in his full uniform. Casablanca Steps give their debut and for the first time The Hawk Master demonstrates the art of falconry on horseback.
2003 – It is the year of the seagulls: What was just a polo field now turns into a mini-Alster as a result of continuous, torrential rain and therefore upsets the birds’ orientation. But of course the stallholders, led by Sue Austin, do not allow themselves be put off by such obstacles and unwaveringly continue to set up their stands. Their adamant efforts are rewarded: Just in time for the opening on Saturday morning, the sun comes out again and even the lawns recover. Once more the weather report in the Hamburger Abendblatt is proved to be wrong – thank goodness.
2004 – A classical piece is revived: “Dinner for One” is performed live. Miss Sophie (Ursula Schmidt) and James (Mark Lyndon) bring the German New Year’s Eve tradition forward to August and the people of Hamburg can have a good laugh. Sue achieves a special highlight: the exhibiting and auctioning of a watercolour by Prince Charles, in the name of Sotheby‘s.
2005 – British Day continues to expand: The Winter family, consisting of polo players with many years of experience, demonstrates how they train for a special discipline of the sport, in which they are active world champions, i.e. elephant polo, which is mainly played in Asia. Unfortunately, Hagenbeck’s Zoo cannot provide live elephants, but Land Rover helps us out and the Winter brothers offer an impressive insight into the world of the unusually long polo sticks. This is the final year for stallholder Kati of Sky, whose enormous commitment to British Day should not remain unmentioned. At the same time our best wishes for their retirement go to Wolfgang and Marion Katiofsky. The Open Day at Airbus in Finkenwerder and the demonstration flight of the brand-new A 380 with ten thousands of onlookers obstructs the roads surrounding the polo field – several policemen argue before our very eyes about the one-way-street ruling for Jenischstraße.
2006 – Rainclouds do not deter the PwC Skydivers from their first jump. Even Beate Pitschmann, the winner of a tandem jump, defies the weather. Fell ponies, an old British breed of pony, are presented by the Rimmersgard Fell Pony Stables. And on the Sunday, it just never stops raining.
2007 – It rains again, and although we have invited the German world champion in carriage driving in order to show what Prince Philip does in his spare time, we can only offer a stationary demonstration. On the other hand the Side-saddle Riding demonstration takes place and is still with us today. Unfortunately, due to the weather, there are not many visitors, but luckily enough British Day has loyal friends and supporters whose help we need to survive.
2008 – After (two years of) rain, the sun comes out: We experience our most successful year ever! Morgan Cars exhibits some of their cars and there is even a Morgan Roadster to be won, as well as a tandem parachute jump and a ride in a hot-air balloon with Bertie Basset. The concert receives a new sponsor: Ter Hell & Co. – Russell Harris brings the Philharmonie Südwestfalen to Hamburg. We enjoy a superb concert by candlelight.
2009 – GFS Global Financial Solutions is the new sponsor of the Open Air Proms Concert and the NDR Sinfonieorchester is heartily welcomed for the first time, as well as some old acquaintances: conductor Nicolae Moldoveanu and the Opera Interludes soloists from London. With a cricket Twenty20 competition THCC Rot-Gelb brings a further novelty to the polo field and, thanks to Georg Mecke, Airbus supports the event with a donation. In the meantime 130 companies and societies are taking part.
2010 – Our 20th Anniversary arrives with a programme that is more extensive than ever before. The Casablanca Steps are back, The Theatre of Lemmings, Russell Harris, sheepdog and sheep show their skills, horses, birds, Paddington Bear, Highland Games, a MINI-skirt race, rugby, cricket, welly-wanging, darts, croquet, golf, polo, bagpipe band, folk music, whisky tasting, Wheel of Fortune, Dinner for One, Scottish dancers, the soloists of Opera Interludes, Minis, Morgans and classic cars, tombola and, for the first time, junior rugby. This year the Hotel Baseler Hof celebrates its 10th year with an attractive tea marquee, the best place to take a break and enjoy The British Way of Life.
2011 – British Day now becomes British Flair – Home & Garden GmbH, Lübeck takes over the event for the first time under the leadership of Inga Braunmiller. Peter Rogers and Sue Austin accompany the transition event. “Friends of Britain e.V.” has agreed with the organiser, the AgenturHaus GmbH, that the society may continue to carry out its fund-raising activities, in particular the tombola, during the event. The first mutual event is a success and the partnership becomes stronger from year to year. This year the charities: “Ankerland e.V.”, “Nestwärme e.V.”, The Anglican Church of St. Thomas à Becket, “Deutsche Gesellschaft für Osteogenesis Imperfecta (Glasknochen) Betroffene e.V.“ (Brittle Bones Society) and the “Hamburger Hospiz e.V.” benefit from the proceeds of the tombola and other donations.
2012 – Peter Rogers and Sue Austin still remain with us in 2012. For a final time Sue Austin organises the “British Flair Open Air Proms Concert”. The 2012 British Flair event runs fairly well despite the fact that it rained during the daytime on Saturday. However, by the evening the weather is perfect. The new date at the beginning of August is approved by the stallholders. “Friends of Britain e.V.” again donates a substantial sum of € 18,500 – the major proportion going to the “Förderkreis Erlenbusch e.V.”, an institution in Hamburg that cares for severely handicapped children.
2013 – Peter Rogers and David Kenney withdraw from their position as board members. During a special meeting Wendy Sprock together with Linda Struck and Sonny Pathak are elected as new board members of “Friends of Britain e.V.”. Peter Rogers has returned to England to spend his retirement there. We take this opportunity to thank Peter Rogers and David Kenney for more than 20 years of work within the society. Peter Rogers and Sue Austin are declared as “Honorary Life Members”. In addition we are able to gain the British Honorary Consul Claus-G. Budelmann as Patron of Friends of Britain.
Naturally, British Flair continues to take place. Jo Dawes is engaged by “Das AgenturHaus” to organise the framework programme. Jo has had several years of experience with the British Flair event and previously with British Day so we very much welcome this decision. This year we are donating a substantial amount to our main charity, the Haus Mignon, and therefore help to save this facility in Nienstedten that provides a family-type refuge for maltreated children.
2014 – British Flair is again very successful: We donate € 11,000 to our main charity “Förderverein für Stadtteilarbeit in St. Pauli Süd e.V.“ (Support Group for Local Social Work in St. Pauli South). In addition, we distribute a further € 10,000 from the proceeds of British Flair (tombola, rides in classic cars, face painting, wheel of fortune and welly-wanging) to further charitable organisations.
2015 – In April 2015 Claus-G. Budelmann hands over to his successor Nicholas R. Teller as British Honorary Consul in Hamburg and therefore also hands over his position as Patron of Friends of Britain and British Flair to Nick Teller, who is pleased to accept this office. This means that our close relationship to the British Honorary Consul is maintained. Claus Budelmann and Clive Kennedy are appointed Honorary Life Members.
The Open Air Proms Concert needs sponsors. Luckily it is privately financed for one year until new sponsors have been found. Everyone is in agreement that the Proms Concert must continue and thanks to our closest friends we are able to find two new major sponsors for 2016. We are in a position once again to donate a considerable sum to the foundation “Ein Platz für Kinder e.V.” and to other organisations.
2016 – The format of British Flair is undergoing changes – the event is now called “British Flair with Country Fair”. The Friday afternoon is added to the programme in order to offer visitors slightly more “shopping time”. With the new sponsors BDO Deutsche Warentreuhand AG and Commerzbank AG the concert is given a new lease of life. In 2016 our main charity is “Hände für Kinder e.V.“. Altogether, we are able to donate € 18,000 to our chosen charities. Since the Brexit Referendum in the summer of 2016, Friends of Britain is becoming an even more important stronghold on the Hamburg scene.
2017 – This year is a special year for the people of Hamburg with regard to the Royal Family. In June HRH The Princess Royal (Princess Anne) is guest of honour at the Queen’s Birthday Party in the Anglo-German Club. In July yet another Royal visit: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge tour Hamburg and Berlin. These popular members of the Royal Family were in fact in Hamburg before British Flair 2017, but the excitement appears to linger until British Flair in August. For the first time Das AgenturHaus allows the visitors to British Flair to take part in “hands-on” fashion. They can play cricket and croquet, ride, and for the first time try out various skills. It is a big surprise for us when Inga Braunmiller from AgenturHaus presents us with a cheque for € 500. As a result we are able to make donations amounting to € 19,500 in 2017. The main recipient is Haus Mignon (Benita Quadflieg Stiftung) which is already familiar to us from previous occasions.
2018 – The Open Air Proms Concert is meanwhile organised by “Musikmomente e.V.“ led by Stefanie Nießen and again represents a highlight that attracts more than 1,500 concert enthusiasts to the Hamburg Polo Club. Under the leadership of Ian Mardon and conductor Russell Harris the Hamburg Festival Orchestra bestows us with a first-class musical experience. The weekend remains dry and warm; again, thousands of anglophile people flock to British Flair in Flottbek to enjoy the British way of life. With record proceeds, we are able to donate a total of € 19,000. Our main charity “Kinderleben e.V.“ involves some celebrity helpers in our fair and they appear to enjoy it as much as we do.
2019 – The 29th year of British Flair: In preparation for our upcoming 30th anniversary year, we decided to commission a film about British Flair. Thanks to the British Honorary Consulate in Hamburg, this film will be broadcasted nine times by the regional TV network, HH1 in 2019 with more dates planned for 2020. The year 2020 is to see a unique celebration and the film will be shown in order to lend the event special tribute. British Flair with Country Fair 2020 will be a homage to the 30-year anniversary of British Flair 1990 to 2020.
Over the years, we have been privileged to experience great support from the following companies and clubs: The Anglo-German Club, British American Tobacco, BMW Mini, Direct Line, GFS Global Financial Solutions, Hamburger Polo Club, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ter Hell Group, Trebor Bassetts and Cadbury Schweppes (some of these have since been restructured and sadly no longer exist). In the past there were many others who were instrumental in making the event into what it is today: Barclaycard, Shell, BP, Hamburger Sparkasse, KPMG, Jaguar Haus Pfohe, Landhaus Flottbek, Landhaus Treudelberg. In recent years, BDO Deutsche Warentreuhand AG and Commerzbank AG have been the sponsors enabling our Prom concert – a highlight to which we all look forward! Our very special thanks go to the generous support of Spedition Krumpf, for storing and transporting the prizes, including requisites for the Tombola stall, and all the loyal exhibitors who regularly donate tombola prizes. These include British Airways, Confiserie Paulsen, DFDS, Dubarry of Ireland, Stena Line, The English Food and Books, Guinness, La Creperie, Otto Benz & Partner, Outdoor Living - Herilt Bätzner, as well as numerous companies who provide prizes year after year. These include Hawesko, CWD, Hamburg Airport, Gebrüder Heinemann, Hermey, Hannelore Greve Möbel, Rathje Betriebe, Brand Addition, Whisky Experience, Duske & Duske, Wempe and many more, including reputable Hamburg hotels, theatres and museums. Without them, our Grand Tombola, and therefore donations for charitable associations, would not be possible.
What will happen in the next 30 years? Hopefully, some old names will still be with us – but new ones will also naturally evolve and contribute bringing British Flair with Country Fair sustainably into the future. It goes without saying, that we can of course meet in 2020 for high tea in Flottbek to discuss all this over a cup of tea!