Peter Taylor-Whiffen 8 Jan 2018 04:24pm

Holding all the cards

Good food, great company, fabulous venue: David Lindsay’s love for the Chartered Accountants’ Rival Dining Society is understandable, says Peter Taylor-Whiffen
Caption: Photography: Richard Ansett

A great night is always on the cards at the Chartered Accountants’ Rival Dining Society, says David Lindsay. “Fascinating, engaging speakers, wonderful food, great company in a fantastic venue – and the best bit is that any accountant can join.”

At 84, Lindsay still manages the society’s membership and is justly proud of CARDS as it approaches its 40th anniversary. “It came into being in 1979 as an alternative to the (now defunct) Chartered Accountants Dining Society (CADS). I was a member of both, but CARDS has a much more diverse membership.”

Lindsay entered the profession aged just 16, joining Bristol firm Watling & Partners with a baptism of fire: “My first day was 19 September 1949 – one day after Stafford Cripps wiped 30% off the value of the pound.”

He completed his articles and, after a two-year break for National Service, stayed with Watlings until 1955 when he joined a local client, pottery firm Pountney & Co. He then moved again to Bristol-based Ready Mixed Concrete and stayed for the next 34 years until sight problems forced him to retire in 2006.

“I learned in 2003 I had macular degeneration. I managed to read the lesson at my son’s wedding but on a visit to another church a little while later I was looking at a gold icon, shut my eye and when I opened it, the icon was black. It gradually got worse and now I am virtually blind – I was in the middle of an audit and had to advise my clerk how to finish it.”

But at the same time Lindsay was getting more involved in CARDS, which meets four times a year at the grand surroundings of the Royal Thames Yacht Club in Knightsbridge. Its eclectic speakers have included MPs, business people, sports legends, actors, film producers and members of the royal household. “In keeping with the CARDS theme, apart from the chair and vice-chair and their spouses, who sit in a fixed place, we draw playing cards to see who sits where, which always gives you someone interesting and different to talk to.

“It’s tremendous fun,” he adds. “Annual membership is only £30 plus the price of the dinners – we usually get around 25 but we’d love to get to 52 so we can use a full deck of cards.”

Lindsay is a passionate volunteer – he was on the board of retirement homes organisation the Anchor Trust and treasurer for Methodist Homes for the Aged and also served as a magistrate for 14 years near his home in Maidenhead, Berkshire. Away from work he grows chrysanthemums but his deteriorating sight means he may soon have to retire from this, too.

“But life has lots of other pleasures,” says Lindsay, who with wife Dotty has a son, daughter and two grandchildren. “I love meeting new and interesting people. That’s why I thoroughly recommend CARDS – there’s always something interesting to learn, and always someone interesting to talk to.”