2023... what a year!
For those who were members in 2023 we hope you enjoyed the action-packed calendar of events.
The response to and support for the club has been absolutely incredible. When we think back to the germination of the idea and the initial goals, to be sat here writing this upon having reached, surpassed, or created them all is truly wonderful.
Here, we review the events the 007GB 2023 members enjoyed…
London Film Fair
Back in late January we held a small and informal club meet up to coincide with London Film Fair. The club President, Philip, and Vice President, Miles, took the opportunity to introduce themselves to the Bond guests and explain all about the new British James Bond Fan Club. A highlight was Phil telling The Man With the Golden Gun’s Carmen Du Sautoy (who had lost none of her charm!) the trivia about the crew being visible in the mirror during the fight in her character’s dressing room. Phil was able to find the moment on YouTube and he showed it her. A picture tells a thousand words, because Carmen was astonished: she had not been aware of this before!
Following that, we had a small get together in the hotel bar with 007GB Club members. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet some new people and talk about the club and Bond in general.
Introductions at the Café Society
March’s rendezvous at the Café Society was our first official meet up. Fittingly located right opposite the real MI6 building, which has been featured in Bond films since The World Is Not Enough, where it was famously blown up – and then again in Skyfall and Spectre. Nothing quite as inflammatory transpired during the first meet-up of 007GB Club, although anyone who was there will testify that they could feel the considerable warmth emanating from Bond fans coming together.
It was a chilly March day at the end of a week which had seen parts of the UK shut down due to snow. But inclemency didn’t stop members from up and down the country coming together. Several had even travelled from overseas! People from all walks of life Bonded over a glass of Champagne or a Martini.
Bond stars Martine Beswick, Carole Ashby and Caroline Munro really enjoyed themselves and their adoring fans were delighted to get to know them in a convivial and informal atmosphere. It’s was an amazing start to the years packed schedule of events.
Target practice in Manchester
In May an intrepid group of club members headed to Point Blank Shooting in central Manchester for some gun-based action. Unfortunately, the national rail strike meant that about half of the people who planned to attend the event simply couldn’t make it. However, those of us who were able to get there had a brilliant day. We had two hours on the shooting ranges, culminating in a final shootout for medals and prizes.
Following the shooting, we all headed out into (the unusually) sunny Manchester for food, drinks, and the occasional cocktail. Many of us hung around into the evening, passionately talking about the world of 007, and life in general. Another successful 007GB event was in the bag!
A very special night onboard HMS Belfast
The HMS Belfast gala event on Saturday 8 July brought together Bond enthusiasts and esteemed guests to support the noble cause of children’s charity UNICEF, with donations totalling over £20,000.
We always knew the charity gala aboard HMS Belfast was going to be a significant undertaking, especially for a club not even a year old. But passionate Bond fans can achieve anything when they work together. Affectionately referred to as ‘The Big One’ by 007GB board members, we spent more than eight months planning the evening.
You can’t plan for everything and there were last minute problems to overcome, not least of the various issues with transportation, from London traffic being at a standstill because of some very high profile events to industrial action on the trains (yet again) reducing services significantly.
But 007GB Board members took it all in their stride, even if being so busy making preparations meant they had very little time to get changed into their finery for the evening!
Everyone’s experience of the evening was different: some spent a large portion of early evening on the deck of the Belfast itself, against the stunning backdrop of Tower Bridge and with The Q The Music quintet bringing their very special ambience. Many enjoyed libations inside the ‘Fleming bar’, a space created in the centre of the ship to evoke the World War II experiences of Bond’s illustrious creator.
Others enjoyed a display of classic costumes and props in a dedicated space towards the stern, with gorgeous items from John Glen Bond films handpicked by Alan Stephenson from his extensive collection. There was so much to see and do that it was almost impossible to sample everything, although some guests did manage this feat!
The undoubted highlight of everyone’s evening was the attendance of renowned stars from the world of James Bond films, including esteemed director John Glen, who was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award during the gala dinner, and was also interviewed later in the evening by the one and only David Zaritsky, from The Bond Experience.
We can’t fail to mention that more than a dozen Bond actors graced us with their warm presences, too, adding an extra touch of glamour and excitement to proceedings. All in all, the event was a roaring success and set the bar high for 2024. Watch this space!
007GB Special Panel at London Film & Comic Con!
As if the gala dinner onboard HMS Belfast wasn’t enough on the Saturday, for those of you who attended the Comic Con on the Sunday, not only were you able to see action legend Chuck Norris, but our very own Club President and Director of Experiences took to the main stage to lead a very special Bond girl panel. With David Zaritsky taking on the hosting duties, the crowd was entertained with lovely stories from behind the scenes on Bond.
The guests were available throughout the day to sign autographs and take photos with fans. A perfect way to round off a very Bondian weekend.
The Belfry Bond Bonanza
We had all the ingredients for an amazing day:
- An incredible nine Bond Girls, including the radiant star of The Living Daylights, Maryam d’Abo
- John Moreno, esteemed actor from John Glen’s debut as Bond director, For Your Eyes Only
- Paul Weston, who started working on Bond films in 1967 and co-ordinated stunts for both of Timothy Dalton’s films, both directed by John Glen
- John Glen himself: having enjoyed July’s Belfast gala so much he was eager to attend our next event and we were ecstatic to be able to spend more time with him
- Beautiful Bond vehicles, including Aston Martins of various vintages and hues, a Lotus, a BMW Z3 and a Morris Minor like the one in Thunderball
- For those who wanted to play golf, one of the most spectacular PGA courses in the world. Players included Gavin Perrett: as CEO of Penfold Golf he has brought back to life the golf brand most synonymous with Bond.
- For everyone: a sumptuous afternoon tea
An intimate Q&A with the Bond Girls, revealing the uniqueness of each character and actor
- A moving celebration of John Glen’s career, including an interview with the man himself (standing ovation obligatory!)
- A tongue-in-cheek presentation on the importance of golf in the Bond books and films
- Weaponry used by each Bond actor
- Memorabilia Signings
- An auction of kindly-donated Bond items in aid of UNICEF
If James Bond has taught us anything, it’s that you don’t have to be related to someone to relate to them. For many of us, James Bond is more than a passion we have in common: it’s a way to really get to know each other.
The proceedings were teed off by our guest of honour John Glen. Then the golfers headed out onto the famous Belfry course.
While the golf was taking place, the rest of us gathered at the Belfry’s Woodland suite for day packed with memories. We had so many members and celebrity guests telling board members that “The club now feels like a family.”
And we could feel it too.
But this wasn’t all. Even with all of these amazing ingredients, what really made it special was the atmosphere: it was positively familial.
Bond alumni, the board and members were able to mingle throughout the day. Everyone had up close and personal moments with people we had hitherto only admired through screens. And the Bond celebrities were just as delighted to get to know members.
A 007GB Club member who has been to many Bond events over the decades said The Belfry had “set the gold standard for Bond events” and they were hardly alone in their praise.
Finally, let’s not forget that we raised more than £5,000 more for UNICEF on the day, bringing our charity fundraising total to more than £25,000!
007GB Went to Hollywood!
In October Club President Philip Dewhurst crossed the Atlantic with a group of beautiful Bond girls. Global James Bond day was celebrated in style with Luciana Paluzzi hosting a wonderful reunion of five Bond girls for a private party at the gorgeous Californian home she shares with her devoted husband Michael. The guests were treated to champagne, fine foods and the very best company.
The next day the reunion moved over to The Hollywood Show in Los Angeles. People could get autographs, photo ops and meet Luciana Paluzzi, Martine Beswicke, Carole Ashby and Alison Worth. Then our club President hosted 007GB’s cocktails & canapes post show party in support of UNICEF. A great time was had by all including old friends and new. The event also managed to raise over $1000 for UNICEF… ‘Keeping the Californian end up!’
Christmas festivities at the Café Society
There are Christmas parties and there are CHRISTMAS PARTIES. 007GB’s first Christmas party was definitely the latter. For those able to make it (weather and transportation issues were against us yet again!) it was a delightful way to finish off a year of sensational get togethers. It was so good to spend more time with so many people who, less than a year ago, didn’t even know one another but are now on very intimate terms. There were several new members for who this was their first event and they said they immediately were made to feel a part of the family.
It was very appropriate to finish the 2023 event cycle off at Café Society, opposite the MI6 building, where we had our very first official event. Although intentionally not on the scale of events like HMS Belfast and The Belfry, there was still a lot going on, with six Bond Girls joining in the frivolities, Secret Santa gifts for everyone (chosen by Board Members, and bought with their own money), a sumptuous buffet, fabulous photo opportunities and bottle after bottle of Bollinger.