Friday 11th December 2015 – The Institute of Directors, Pall Mall, London
The venue for this sold-out event was a grand Grade I listed Regency building, and its sweeping marble staircase and vast walls covered in 18th and 19th century canvases provided a spectacular backdrop for the evening; the period restaurant at the IoD was a most fitting venue for this elegant celebration. It has been used as a backdrop for many television and feature films such in Downton Abbey, Foyle’s War and The Dark Knight. Writer Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, was a regular diner when he was Lieutenant Commander RNVR in the Naval Intelligence division.
The glittering evening began with a warm welcome from Gillian Greenwood, Senior Features Editor of Nikon Owner magazine in the IoD’s magnificent Regency Restaurant.
After the delicious Christmas Dinner had been served, Gillian drew the winning raffle ticket in the prize draw for a Nikon J5 camera dual lens kit, assisted by Uri Zakay, Grays of Westminster’s Financial Director. The prize was won by Adrian Cochrane. Remarkably, Adrian won the prize draw last year, so he graciously refused the prize, wishing to give someone else a chance. The re-draw was won by a delighted Jane Stothert.
The guests then adjourned into the Morning Room to hear a talk by Gray Levett in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Grays of Westminster, of which he is the founder. He described his early years as a rock photographer and then later spending time in Los Angeles in the late 1970s/early 1980s with his camera, epicentre of the music and movie business. After spending a year working at an indie record label and recording studios, now back in the UK, he had a desire to start his own camera company. From a humble start in 1985, fuelled by £100, Grays of Westminster has grown into a destination store with a global customer reach, producing its own Nikon centric magazine (Nikon Owner), and last year gaining a Royal Coat of Arms – a world first for a camera store. Gray has certainly led an extraordinary life having worked over four decades in the photographic business. In fact his career has straddled music, photography and the movie world in both the UK and Hollywood, encompassing legendary figures along the way, such as Kate Bush, Art Garfunkel, Rod Stewart, Stanley Kubrick, Lord Snowdon, David Bailey, David Suchet and Terence Donovan and many ‘off the record’ A-listers.
This year, distinguished guests at the Grays of Westminster Christmas event included Heather Angel, Mike Maloney OBE, Nigel Atherton, Damien Demolder, Chris Weston, Andrew Main Wilson, Robert Noel and Tony Hurst.