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Reuben in the News
A Perfect Day

The text of this article reads:

Reuben Lynch has a hectic social life. Parties, weddings, awards evenings, banquets - you name it, he's got it penciled into his diary somewhere.

But whilst Reuben may enjoy all the functions he's invited to, he can never really relax, for he is a professional toastmaster and therefore is always on duty.

It's a duty he takes very seriously, too, believing that as the only black toastmaster in the country he has had more to prove than most.

"A lot of people still think that you can't know about etiquette because you are black. It's not a racial thing, just practical really. But I have surprised a lot of people! The key is to do your homework before every event, make sure everyone is addressed properly and keep your cool.

"Planning before the event is important, and I like to go through all the details with the client to make sure they get exactly what they want."

The first thing you notice about Reuben when you meet him is how polite he is. His belief in good manners and etiquette is very strong and something he feels is lacking in society today.

"I do feel that this is something which should be paid more attention to, and perhaps taught in schools, because it is very important. Knowing which cutlery to use for which food, and even how to hold your knife and fork properly are important but also how to address people correctly."

Born on the island of Montserrat - a poster of which hangs in his office at his home in Bidford - Reuben came to England as a child in 1963, setting up home originally in Brixton. It wasn't a particularly good start and his family did not enjoy the warmest of welcomes.

After a while Reuben moved into a local youth hostel, and found a life that he loved - he was part of a team and had the opportunity to travel which, when he joined the army some time later, he was able to continue.

His army career lasted 22 years, the last ten of which he spent in Germany managing the officers' mess (where he was known as 'Benson' after the TV butler) and gained the grounding for his present role.

The highlight of his army life was a visit from Princess Anne, an event which almost passed him by when it was handed to someone else to organise.

But Reuben stood his ground, and was eventually given the recognition he felt he deserved by organising the royal function.

"I can remember the menu as if it were yesterday," he said. "It was smoked chicken breast in white grape sauce followed by Dover sole stuffed with other seafood.

"She also wanted Malvern spring water which we didn't usually have so we had to have it flown out from England.

"We had to have three rehearsals for the event, three full dinners, to make sure everything went smoothly. The funny thing was that Princess Anne hardly ate a thing because she was watching her weight as she was a jockey at the time.

"She just grazed throughout. It was almost embarrassing, though, because everyone had finished and she still had her knife and fork in her hand as she was talking to someone.

"We are not allowed to clear the table until the member of the royal family has finished, even if they want to sit there all day. But eventually she caught my eye and put her cutlery down and we were able to get on with the proceedings."

The day has stayed in Reuben's memory and it seems that the Princess Royal remembered it too, for when the two were next at the same function in Birmingham she asked, through her lady-in-waiting, whether "he was the same gentleman who had been in charge in Germany".

Reuben has met many celebrities in his time, and is proud of his collection of photos with the stars. But celebrities get no better treatment than any other member of the public. As well as organising events he also writs speeches (and acts as prompt if he speaker slips up!).

He has been known to put things together at very short notice but as his own publicity material states: "Marriages may be made in heaven, but a function that goes smoothly results from keeping to one rule - book early to avoid disappointment."

You can call Reuben on 01789 773926

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Reuben Lynch, Event Consultant and Professional Toastmaster