From Colombian guerillas to ladies who lunch for Tom Hart Dyke

PUBLISHED: 11:41 28 September 2008 | UPDATED: 13:37 06 May 2010

Left to tight: Tom Hart Dyke, Jean Hutton, Chair of Grove House trustees John Watson and hotel manager Paul Watson

Left to tight: Tom Hart Dyke, Jean Hutton, Chair of Grove House trustees John Watson and hotel manager Paul Watson

CAPTURE by Colombian guerrillas in 2000 while plant-hunting in a dangerous part of South America made Tom Hart Dyke s name. But he has since gone on to become a television presenter whose family home Lullingstone Castle has featured on a TV programme, wit

CAPTURE by Colombian guerrillas in 2000 while plant-hunting in a dangerous part of South America made Tom Hart Dyke's name.

But he has since gone on to become a television presenter whose family home Lullingstone Castle has featured on a TV programme, with a second series due shortly.

But despite his growing fame, he returned to the St Albans-based Green Ribbon Luncheon Club for Ladies to talk to its monthly meeting in September.

Accompanying Tom were some of the orchids he feels so passionate about that they led him and another man into the hands of rebels while they were trekking through a lawless part of Colombia eight years ago.

Jean Hutton, organiser of the Green Ribbon Club which meets monthly at the Noke Hotel in St Albans and raises money for Grove House day hospice, has known Tom for some time and twice visited his family home in Kent.

He has built a world garden there, creating different countries from plants, and Jean is planning to return there shortly.

A sponsor paid for Tom to return to the club and talk to the 35 members who were at the lunch. Jean said: "Tom has a fantastic personality. He is so enthusiastic and passionate and holds his audience's attention."

Tom is the latest in a long list of celebrities who have been guests of the club since Jean first formed it in 1994 following the death of her husband.

Others include Jemima Khan, Pam Rhodes, the late Robert Runcie, Terry Waite and Lindka Cierach. The guest at the November meeting will be film actress Rita Tushingham.

Over the years, Jean has raised £55,500 for Grove House through the club and other fundraising events like her annual ball at the London Road Club in St Albans which is being held on October 4 this year and is already sold out.

She is anxious to attract new members for the Green Ribbon Club which is open to women of all ages and has a speaker every month except Christmas when entertainment is provided.

Each lunch costs £25 which includes aperitifs and canapés and a three-course lunch as well as the chance to hear the guest speaker.

Anyone who is interested in joining should contact Jean on 01727 862245.

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