For more than 25 years, Badgemore Park Golf Club, near Henley-on-Thames, has provided the setting for a memorable day of competition and fundraising.

Badgemore Park has been owned by the Connell family since 1997 and has supported the Trust for nearly as long. Jon Connell, the current managing director, explains: “We were keen to support the Trust from the start. My father, Sir Michael, was a great friend of Sir Mark Waller, both personally and professionally.  Fundraising has always been important and holding a golf day is traditionally a good way to raise money.”

That’s certainly true of this event, which on the first occasion raised £10,000 and, since then, has raised an astonishing total of just over £390,000! The event follows the same format each time– the Texas Scramble is played in teams, with each player teeing off. The best of these shots is chosen as the next shot, from which each player hits their next shot, and so this process continues. It’s described as being about ‘camaraderie and fun’ but there has certainly been some friendly rivalry along the way! Jon used to put in a team himself but now takes more of an oversight role. However, that hasn’t stopped him doing his best to ensure his brother Sean’s team has had to work a little harder. He says: “We make sure his team has to walk to the furthest point and start with one of the trickier holes!”

Each year, more than 18 teams – around 80 to 100 players – take part. From mostly being friends and members of the Waller family, the event now attracts corporate supporters, including more recently Field Seymour Parkes and dunnhumby. “It’s lovely to see the number of different people who come from far
and wide,” says Jon, “and then come back year after year.”

As well as the competition, the day also includes a lunch and auction, where much of the money is raised, thanks both to the generosity of the players and the skills of the auctioneer. “Mark Durden-Smith has regularly entertained everyone, making the auction quite hilarious,” says Jon. “We wouldn’t raise as much without his persuasive powers!” It’s such a key part of the Trust’s fundraising calendar that, as a mark of their gratitude, Sir Mark and Lady Rachel Waller, pictured below, gifted a memorial bench to the club on the 10th anniversary. To mark 20 years, the Connell and Waller families privately commissioned a sculpture by local artists Laura Jayne and Sebastian Wylder. Entitled ‘It’s good to talk’, the piece features three figures in conversation and stands in full
view of visitors, opposite the pro shop, surrounded by a gravel garden.

Miraculously, the weather has always been kind. “We have been blessed with fabulous weather,” Jon says. “The golf day has brought sunshine to the golf course, whether it’s taken place in May or September! We love hosting the event and we’d love to do so for another 25 years.”