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The stunning spa-town of Harrogate attracts thousands of tourists every year who come to enjoy its scenic gardens, relax in its historical spas and tuck in to its famous Betty’s Tea Room treats. For us and 2000 members of the Trefoil Guild, the draw to Harrogate this June was not down to the craving for the finest Yorkshire scones or the allure of the beautiful North Yorkshire countryside (although these were certainly welcome bonuses); we all made our way to North Yorkshire by car, train (or plane!) to attend the Trefoil Guild Annual Meeting 2016.

Aside from the meeting itself which was a huge success, made special by guest speaker Gervase Phinn whose humour and wit charmed the entire audience, the Venture Abroad team have clubbed together their highlights from the weekend…

Meeting old friends and new

The most enjoyable thing about the annual meetings is that there is plenty of time to catch up with friends over the course of the weekend. From welcoming the ladies to their accommodation to enjoying their company over evening meals, the most rewarding part of the weekend for the VA team is always the opportunity to socialise with members of the Trefoil Guild. As the only weekend of the year when Trefoil Guild members come together from every corner of the country, the social element of the weekend certainly seemed to be a highlight for all those who attended.

With the addition of a few ‘Trefoil AM newbies’, our newest members of the Venture Abroad team were thoroughly humbled by the whole experience and were made to feel very welcome by the ladies.

‘The wonderful staff make a wonderful weekend of fun and friendship’ – Janet Andrews

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A Tour of the Town

Once fuelled with a hearty breakfast, our first morning in Harrogate was spent soaking up the sights on a guided walking tour of the town.

As we journeyed through the heart of Harrogate, we got all the inside information on the town’s quirks and perks; from Agatha Christie’s suspicious ‘disappearance’ to the tales behind the town’s famous spa water. With time to admire the beautiful Valley Gardens in all their spring-time splendour before discovering Harrogate’s hidden gems nestled between cobbled lanes, we came away fully clued up on Harrogate history!

The tour inevitably had to end at the famous Betty’s Tea Rooms and for those of us who braved the long queues in a quest for Betty’s treats, it was well worth the wait. Every Trefoil member knows that a cuppa and cake pit-stop is compulsory at the end of every walk…

Luck was on our side for the day as the showers held off, making for a glorious afternoon. Some of us even squeezed in a spot of souvenir shopping at the famous Farrah’s of Harrogate (who kindly welcomed members of the Trefoil Guild to sample their toffee delights!).

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Exciting Excursions

The following day, the Venture Abroad coaches headed off in every direction as we set out to discover the secrets of Harrogate and its neighbouring tourist spots. Whilst some opted for the stunning Fountains Abbey, others visited Ripley Castle, Harewood House and even ventured into the city of York.

With the opportunity to discover the rich heritage and culture of the region, each excursion offered an insight into Yorkshire’s colourful history.

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An Evening of Entertainment

The final evening of the weekend was spent in royal style with an evening of entertainment to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday. Sporting union jack headwear, the Venture Abroad team greeted 320 Trefoil ladies for a concert in three parts. Looking out onto a sea of tiaras, hats and flags (all in the spirit of the birthday celebrations!), we warmly welcomed some of Harrogate’s finest talent to the stage!

The Harrogate Male Choir charmed us with lovely heart-felt renditions of the folk song classic ‘The Water is Wide (Waly Waly)’ and the traditional hymn ‘Amazing Grace’, as well as the swing favourite ‘Chattanooga Choo-Choo’ and a selection of upbeat American numbers that had us moving in our seats!

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Next to the stage was the Harrogate Gang Show with an excerpt from their show performed earlier in the year. These talented young performers amused us with their clever Pinnochio piece (‘I’ve got no strings’) and delighted us with a sunny montage of summer favourites, including ‘We’re all going on a summer holiday’, ‘Happy days are here again’ and ‘Oh I do like to be beside the seaside’. A few brave members of the group then took the spotlight and performed a series of solos, showcasing their extraordinary talent. With hearts sufficiently melted and hands sore from clapping, it was time for a tea interval!

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The evening ended on a ‘’high note’’ (pun intended) with a brilliant set from Harrogate Brass Band. We all enjoyed familiar melodies, punchy rhythms and bright brass sounds as the band took us through the eras one tune at a time. From big-band classics to war-time pieces and movie-theme favourites, there was something for everyone in Harrogate’s brass band inventory. Performing moving renditions of ‘A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square’ and ‘Danny Boy’, coupled with Rossini’s dramatic ‘William Tell Overture’ and Wilfred Heaton’s ‘Praise’, the toe-tapping playlist sparked clapping and singing participation as the band’s trumpet trills and pulsing percussion rang out. In-between songs, members of the band told us stories of their personal Guiding experiences – a lovely touch that was very much appreciated by the audience.

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The evening culminated with the National Anthem, led by Harrogate Brass band, before Pat Downer took to the stage to pay tribute to the tremendous work and efforts of Sue Dickenson, former P.A to the Chairman. With the chance to show our appreciation for Sue’s years of dedication to the Trefoil Guild, the room erupted into applause – her outstanding work will be remembered and cherished by all of the ladies who know her.

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We would like to thank all of the Trefoil Guild members for another fantastic weekend. We look forward to seeing you again in Brighton!

Take a look at our photo gallery of the weekend! 

‘Superbly organised tour with efficient, friendly staff’ – Syliva Claridge

‘The usual high standard of care and friendliness by the Venture Abroad team’ – Margaret Birkinshaw

‘Your staff were very pleasant, always helpful making my stay easy going’ – Kathleen Saddler

‘I enjoyed everything about the tour- impossible to pick out the ‘best moment’ – Ann Andrews

‘A very relaxing weekend as everything was arranged for us’ – Hazel Prentice