Stoke Rochford President's Day salutes soldiers and veterans

Funds raised for Army Benevolent Fund...

Wednesday, 30th June 2021, 1:15 pm
Winning team 1st Jab out on course. From left are Tipper Wilson, Erica McGarrigle, Melissa Headley-Lewis and Nick Chamberlin.

Teams from across the country took to the tees at Stoke Rochford Golf Club on Friday for a fundraiser to support serving soldiers and veterans.

The club’s bi-annual President’s Day was this year staged as a fundraiser for the Army Benevolent Fund - the Soldiers Charity.

The ABF is a cause close to the heart of club president Neil McCorquodale who spent nine years serving in The Coldstream Guards in the 1970s and is chairman of its Lincolnshire’s branch.

Club president Neil McCorquodale (left) and club chairman Adrian Stannard.

Their bi-annual golf day is one of the county branch’s main fundraisers and is the fourth time Stoke Rochford has been chosen as host, with this year’s edition making around £8,500 profit - almost double the initial target.

The charity was formed in 1945 as the Army’s official charity and raises about £6m a year nationally to help serving soldiers, veterans and their families.

A significant part of that goes to help those who served in Afghanistan and suffered wounds both physical and mental.

“I made a lot of good friends in the Army, learnt a lot about life and had a very rewarding time so I always wanted to give something back,” Neil explained.

The winning team with Lord-Lieutenant of Lincolnshire Toby Dennis (left) and Lady Sarah McCorquodale (second left).

“In the last 12 months we have given out about £60,000 to about 40 different cases in Lincolnshire to help people who have fallen on hard times.

“The thing with many soldiers is that they are proud people and don’t like asking for help.

“They only ask if they are really in need so it requires a very sensitive approach.”

The day attracted a full entry of 21 teams, including a quartet from Kent club Royal St George’s - which will host The Open in July - and was won by local team The 1st Jab consisting of Tipper Wilson, Erica McGarrigle, Nick Chamberlin and Melissa Hedley-Lewis, whose grandfather was Stoke Rochford GC’s first chairman.

Melissa then completed a 100k run, the Race to the Castle, in Northumberland the next day.

However, Neil was not among those teams playing and spent the day taking drinks round to those taking part in the tournament.

“Stoke Rochford are very generous and public-spirited and run the event for the charity” he said.

“My job is to get the teams here and then leave it in the hands of the professionals from the club to do the hard work of running the event.”

Yet while Neil is no longer a regular golfer, the course and club remain a big part of his life.

The estate has been in the family since 1653 and the golf course was set up there in 1923 by his great-great uncle Christopher Turnor - the last member of the family to live in Stoke Rochford Hall.

He set it up as a nine-hole course for his own recreation before Stoke Rochford Golf Club officially took over the running of an expanded 18-hole course in 1963.

Neil is the club’s fourth president, following Christopher and Herbert Turnor and his father Alastair McCorquodale, and is particularly pleased with the club’s current direction.

“The course is so well looked after - Gareth and his team do an amazing job,” he added.

“If I had £1 for every time someone said how good the course was we would have raised a lot more money!

“I remember climbing all of the trees here as a boy because we lived in Stoke Cottage on the edge of the course.

“It’s a joy to go around and I am very proud of what the club has done.

“To come through all of the challenges that 2020 presented and have grown its membership is pretty impressive.

“It’s down to hard work, total commitment and good management by the committee here.”