Concours Memories: Rik Bryan
In 2011, I received a phone call out-of-the-blue from a friend of mine, Graham Sharpe, the Director of Property for The Royal Household. I knew Graham through another friend, the furniture-maker Neil Stevenson in Rugby. Graham and Neil had worked together in the aftermath of the Windsor Castle fire in 1992, with Neil using photos and his great expertise to reproduce priceless items of furniture that had been destroyed. Graham and I were both ‘petrolheads’, and this was the nature of the phone call out-of-the blue!
Thorough Events in the meantime had written to the Crown Equerry at Buckingham Palace to suggest the idea of a remarkable Concours of Elegance to be held in the Palace grounds in 2012 in celebration of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. It was received warmly by the Keeper of the Privy Purse who knowing nothing about cars asked Graham to be the link between the two organisations. The Keeper contacted James Brooks-Ward and said “Buckingham Palace is out-of-the-question, but Windsor Castle is a possibility.’
The timescale was the challenge – in less than 12-months, we would need to attract 60 of the finest and rarest motor cars ever produced with their owners to a new event at a new venue (albeit, Windsor Castle). I surmised that this would only be possible with the help of a number of prestige car manufacturers – the owners would need to see that the manufacturers supported the event and the manufacturers would need to let us know where their greatest and most important cars were. We would need to talk to the manufacturers, and quickly….
I picked up the phone to good friends of mine at Ferrari, Aston Martin, and Jaguar. And so it was that, one afternoon, Tony Willis, Kingsley Riding-Felce, Tony O’Keeffe, and Graham and I all met ‘in secret’ at the newly-refurbished St Pancras Station in Central London. It was a buoyant conversation – we would be helping to create a truly great Concours of Elegance, a motoring event that the UK had been missing for very many years. And Tony, Kingsley and Tony were more than happy to help – the event was a possibility!
Her Majesty The Queen was asked and graciously gave permission and so the Concours of Elegance was born!