My last post said I was visiting a nearby club but unfortunately I was the only one who arrived. The members had all gone to a special event somewhere else. I did call the club secretary in the morning but I guess he's away on holiday as I got no reply. I was going to phone others in the club directory in the afternoon but was busy with work. Still, no trouble, the short walk did me no harm.
So, club visit number 6 was actually 30 minutes away in Strood. I grew up in the Medway towns so it was almost like going home. One of the club members is Dennis Spiller, he's last years District Governor and as I've mentioned before was one of my youth leaders when I was a teenager. He hadn't seen me for years before I joined Rotary and now I keep turning up like a bad penny :-)
So, with a past district governor in their club, I was expecting good things. In many ways, things were very good, but I left feeling very, very frightened. Me, writing negatively about Rotary? Surely not I hear you cry! Well, yes, if being frightened is negative for you then this will be negative. However, being frightened can also be a force for change, a positive thing, and I'm going to be concious from now on of doing things to prevent my club getting into the current position of Strood.
To begin with, this was the smallest meeting I've been too, just 13 people including me. On the plus side this meant I could speak in more detail to everyone so it was still worth going. There were also several people still on holiday (and one member had landed in the UK at 4am in the morning so the members dedication cannot be faulted).
They were proactively planning their version of 'Do Good Things', in particular organising chestnuts to be roasted on a stand at the nearby Dickens festival. They raise a lot of money through that and collecting with buckets at the nearby Morrisons. Bucket collecting is something we've yet to investigate but clearly effective if you're in the right place.
All good so far, so why was I frightened? They formed just over 30 years ago and from what I can tell were exactly like us. I can see myself in their position in 30 years time. A club membership who's average age is in the late 60's. They have 21 members according to the directory and taking into account illness and holidays their attendance when I there must have been 90%. So why so few in the club?
In fact, they know their age balance is wrong and are working on fixing it. A few years ago a young teacher joined. This year he recruited another 30 year old professional into the club. The club are battling to find the younger people that can join and continue the good things their club is already doing. I'm frightened because if we are not careful our club will be in exactly the same position in 30 years time, or worse, we wont realise it at the time.
They have just moved to a new venue which will give them more space for members to meet, their past venue was described as 'cosy' with 16 present. I didn't find out their growth goals but I hope they're aiming to be 30 members or more within 12 months.