The West Coast SC has never enjoyed a large membership, so when 6 members left at the beginning of the season, the clubs future looked grim; those who left, did so for genuine reasons, Jess to university, Anna to have twins, Trix went into a care home, Adelaide and Liz moved away from the area, whilst June our ‘social’ member lost her chauffer when Adelaide moved away! This left us with 4 full members and 1 joint member, clearly an unsustainable membership.
We decided to continue until the end of the year and went on a recruitment drive. Susan Trafford, Area President, heard of our situation and we met over a coffee to discuss possible avenues, the cup of coffee extended to several cups, plus a sandwich and cakes and our meeting lasted for 2 hours! Susan promised to help in any way she could, including, instigating the ‘flying squad’ idea mooted in the ‘Speaker’. We did the usual things, increased publicity through posters, local newspapers and radio and contacting firms/organisations in the area.
Reaction was slow and although we received some feed back we were still low in numbers for our first meeting; we were saved by members from other clubs in our area who attended to swell the numbers, the flying squad had arrived! In the meantime we changed our venue to the Sailing Club in Harrington, a move which seemed to please everyone, especially the visitors, who returned time again, quite remarkable really, because some had to travel up to 30/40 miles to attend.
The flying squad literally saved our club and during the season we gained new members including some from another club, as joint members (the new venue was proving to be an attractive one) As a result we were able to continue as a club and saw the season out.
We now have enough members to continue to function and the future is brighter but membership is still low and we continue with our recruitment drive, the ‘flying squad’ continues help out, one meeting approaching 20 in number! (I think they like our venue!) and we look forward to the coming season with optimism.
I am full of admiration for the ASC members who have contributed to our cause, giving up hours of their spare time to save our club. The members of the Cockermouth and Carlisle and District Speakers Clubs have rallied round and supported us. A special mention is needed for Susan Trafford, who worked tirelessly to assist in methods of recruiting new members. Information (from national officers) on financial help for new and struggling clubs, was greatly appreciated.
We managed to continue without it, but it was encouraging to know that help was available if needed. As for our season, we were able to hold regular meetings which were varied, interesting, enjoyable, educational and the informal atmosphere created a lots of humour with members leaving the meetings with a chuckle and a smile.