Strictly star delights luncheon’s record numbers

bus  Graham Scott and Ann Widdecombe at the Business Luncheon.    (120203M3i)
bus Graham Scott and Ann Widdecombe at the Business Luncheon. (120203M3i)

The Harrogate Business Luncheon Club welcomed the second highest attendance in its history on Friday to hear from guest speaker Ann Widdecombe.

The former Conservative Party MP retired from politics at the 2010 general election, and has made various television and radio appearances - including on Strictly Come Dancing - as well as writing four novels.

Her speech to 480 guests at the luncheon club focused on her non-political life, and according to John Newsome, of joint organisers Williams Investment Management, it was very well received by guests.

“Her speech was entertaining and quite amusing,” he said.

“She’s not missing politics at all, so perhaps that’s why her speech was leaning more towards her celebrity life. She talked about Strictly Come Dancing, and said she’d been offered Celebrity Big Brother but no amount of money would be sufficient to tempt her to do that.”

The attendance at Friday’s event has only been bettered once, when Lord Jeffrey Archer spoke to 502 people at the 50th Harrogate Business Luncheon Club in October.

Now organisers hope to bring in more big name guest speakers to future events, following the popularity of Lord Archer and Ms Widdecombe.

“It seems to me that what brings people in to the luncheon is a high-profile speaker,” added Mr Newsome.

As the Olympics approaches, the next event in May will welcome Roger Black MBE, the former athlete turned television presenter who won three Olympic medals - a bronze in 1992 and two silvers in 1996.

The Harrogate Business Luncheon Club has been running since 1997 and takes place three times a year. It regularly attracts between 300 and 400 business people and has a variety of speakers from the world of politics, sport, entertainment, and business.

It is organised jointly by the Howard Matthews Partnership, Lloyds TSB, Williams Investment Management and Ackrill Media Group. Each event is sponsored by a different company, with The Aspect Group sponsoring Friday’s luncheon.

Business people from across the district and beyond attend the lunch at Pavilions of Harrogate. Guests are served drinks on arrival before sitting down to a fantastic two course meal provided by King’s Caterers.

For more information or to book a place for the luncheon in May, please contact Tanya Matthews on 01423 524 322 or by emailing

l More pictures from the lunch will appear in Business Monthly on February 24.