The Rt Hon Lord Bilimoria of Chelsea CBE

50-Year Anniversary of Kensington Cricket Club

As the first ever patron of this incredible cricket club, it is with great pride and it is truly the greatest honour to congratulate you all on 50 golden years of sheer dedication, sporting achievement, teamwork and camaraderie at its finest. It has been a real pleasure to have watched the club flourish and grow over the last two decades into a truly treasured asset of the Kensington community and surrounding areas, providing a source of inspiration for all age groups.

Equally and powerfully, the supporters of Kensington Cricket Club (KCC) have spurred the team on to greater heights through their endless support. Cricket has long been a source of national pride and identity for the UK and of course India and has always been known as a game that unites a country and brings people of all backgrounds together. Therefore, the truly diverse and unique global outreach of the Club, with the more recent formation of KCC India, fills me with the greatest pride as it serves as a shining example for other clubs throughout the country, of how diversity and inclusion can enhance a team and bring about positive change. This example set by KCC will hopefully encourage other cricket clubs around the country and world to follow suit and promote greater diversity and inclusion in their teams.

I have been fortunate enough to watch the growth of Kensington Cricket Club alongside the growth of my own business and it has been a real pleasure to support KCC with Cobra Beer for nearly 20 years now, another very significant and personal milestone to celebrate alongside this special, golden anniversary. So many of the key individuals, the stalwarts of the KCC family have featured so prominently in my life. To name a few; the late Dr. Sanjiv Talwar, was one of my closest friends and a true cricket fan, he is also the reason I got to know the great Sunil Amar, as when I first started my business, I used to be in contact with Dr. Talwar and Sunil Amar shared an office with him and would often pick up the phone, when I called. I have known Neeraj Nayar not only through KCC but as the founder of the world-famous, ‘The FAB Awards’, of which Cobra Beer are proud winners over the years. And of course KCC’s Treasurer San Gore, the legendary Club Captain Chris Ledger, Jai Singh (cousin of one of my closest friends Monish Dutt), Anthony Rickard and the late Keith Bradshaw, the former chief executive and secretary of the MCC, who was also a patron of KCC.

Cobra Beer has accompanied our talented KCC cricketers to numerous matches, against nearly 70 teams in the Home Counties, over the past 20 years as well as being served at many of KCC’s grand and very memorable annual dinners at St. James’s Court Hotel, for nearly 15 years and it has been incredibly well received by all cricketers, becoming their first choice in beers! KCC have always been true and dedicated ambassadors for Cobra Beer, for which I am most grateful. Most importantly and memorably, Cobra Beer has featured at the majority of KCC’s celebrations and significant moments, notably one year, KCC’s Cricketer of the Year was presented with 365 bottles of beer and the Clubman received 180 bottles of beer. It is clear that a very special connection and partnership has formed between the two, which fills me with the greatest pride and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this outstanding club for the next 50 years and more.

I remember at one of the great annual KCC dinners, quoting one of my favourite poems, ‘Vitai Lampada’, by Clifton College’s Master, Sir Henry Newbolt and I shall conclude on that note, wishing KCC even more success in the next 50 years ahead.

                                    As the sun goes down vita

                                    This they all with a joyful mind

                                    Bear through life like a torch in flame,

                                    And falling fling to the host behind –

                                    ‘Play up! play up! and play the game!’