The first Round Table was formed in Norwich, England in 1927. The founder, Louis Marchesi, was a young member of Norwich Rotary Club who felt a need existed for a club where the young businessmen of the town could gather on a regular basis, to exchange ideas, learn from the experiences of their colleagues and play a collective part in the civic life of Norwich.
The name 'Round Table' was taken from a speech made to the British Industries Fair in 1927 by the then Prince of Wales:
"The young business and professional men of this country must get together; round the table; adopt methods that have proved so sound in the past; adapt them to the changing needs of the times and, wherever possible, improve them".
The motto “Adopt, Adapt, Improve” has remained ever since.
From a very early stage it was agreed that Round Table would be a non-religious, non-political club and this has continued to this day. Today there are about 1,000 Tables in the UK and Ireland, with a membership of around 13,000. There are also many Round Tables world-wide.
It was also determined that members could remain in table up to the age of 40, at which time they must leave (eventually to move on to a new organisation called 41 Club). That rule changed some years ago to allow the upper age limit to be extended to 45 (with changing times it was proving more difficult to attract members to the club).
41 Club was formed in 1945 to enable ex members of Round Table to continue their friendships and provide support to their local Table. It is part of the Association of Ex-Round Tablers Clubs an international organisation with clubs in 28 countries. In the UK there are 725 41 clubs with 14,500 members.
The philosophy of 41 Club is similar to Round Table but with no upper age limit and therefore a much older membership it is less active. Great importance is given to continued friendship through fellowship at regular meetings often with a speaker or some activity.
Toddington 41 club was chartered on 24th May 1986 and adopted the motto of “May the Hinges of Friendship Never Rust” acknowledging the popular 'lubricant'; and that, at the monthly meetings, the members may get well oiled.
Each year the club raises a small amount of money used to support local charities and also maintains an emergency fund which can be immediately released by the chairman in the event of a disaster.
Membership is restricted to Ex- Round Tablers and without a feeder table, now that Toddington Round Table has been wound up, Toddington 41 Club will inevitably fade away within twenty years unless there is a significant change of policy.