all club 'chairmen' are entitled to a few ramblings - and this one reviews the great value that HERITAGE gives its members
After a few glasses of the local wine, (not much of a hardship when you are at Herpiniere, just outside Saumur, in the Loire valley), conversation inevitably turned to the differences between the site we were on in France and our respective clubs back home. I was regaled with tales of high membership fees, 'rigged' committees, poor facilities and in the case of one large north-western club, a massive rebuilding programme necessitated by a fire in the pavilion which appeared to have been started in somewhat mysterious circumstances.
In this northern club it had been decided that the new pavilion should be bigger and better than its predecessor, but the cost was going to be a major problem. I was told that the decision was therefore taken to place an additional levy of £50 per member on membership fees for the next five years to pay for the improvements. The person who was telling me, seemed to think that while this was fairly steep, it was nothing out of the ordinary.
This then got me thinking about a club that S and I visited a few years ago. It had come on the market and we had gone to have a look around with a view to making an offer.
we were gathering information we were told that site fees for those with
summer caravan pitches were set at £400 per year with an additional
membership fee of over £100 per person. I couldn't help but contrast
this with the fee structure at Heritage.
Our site may be smallish, but we are improving our facilities without any call for massive increases in membership fees. In fact we currently charge our members less than £1.50 a week to enjoy all of our facilities. Indeed a large number of our members pay nothing at all having attained 'life-membership'- an arrangement that would have had the potential to put the Club under great financial strain in years to come, if it had not been given a finite lifespan by an AGM decision some years ago.
Membership of local health and leisure clubs currently average out at about £50 per month, while some of the local golf clubs charge thousands of pounds per year. Perhaps we should all be grateful that we get so much for so little - but then we really wouldn't be being very British would we? There is no doubt that it seems to be a particularly British trait to expect to get something for nothing - and it seems to be true at HERITAGE..
this article celebrates the foundation of HERITAGE in 1941(at the height of WWII) and the tremendous 'birthday party' that the members were able to enjoy.
What a way to celebrate a birthday!
The weather gave us a wonderful present: blue skies, gentle clouds and warm sunshine.
When we arrived we sensed an air of expectation with signs of people hurrying to and fro with food to be stored in fridges or cooked on barbecues. The celebrations started with Reveille calling us to Brunch, served on the lawns by the rockery.
With tea or coffee to follow, everyone was happy and content - for a few hours at least. Unless, that is, you were one of the many helpers or organisers who were busy behind the scenes preparing the rest of the day's delights. Sandwiches and cakes were on the move and 'waitresses' could be glimpsed adjusting black stockings!
The new conservatory was officially opened by our longest serving member, Mary G (95 yrs old!), and then it was "take your seats Ladies and Gentlemen". The tables were perfectly laid with the best crockery and flowers in the centre. Waiters and waitresses in the style of 'Lyon's Corner House' served assorted sandwiches and took orders for a wonderful range of teas or coffee. They then appeared with those lovely, old-fashioned cake plates piled high with an array of home made cakes.
Later the stage was set and decorated for a Caribbean Evening, complete with steel band. They were great - we were up there dancing from beginning to end! At the interval there was, yes, more food. This time, in the form of a cold buffet. What a spread, served in the marquee by yet another band of 'chefs' and helpers.
There were complete legs of ham, whole turkeys, dressed salmon and accompanying salads and other delights. And then it was back to the dancing! It really was a wonderful day - Heritage at its best - our thanks to the Social Committee and all their many helpers.
HERITAGE has an active 'social programme' all organised by members themselves. Evening events are clothed but not (of course) the daytime events. At this 60th celebration however, the members, duly unclothed, were served by other members dressed in the Lyons Tea House uniforms of the 1940s. (the event was recorded in photographs which can be enjoyed in the clubhouse).
HERITAGE continues to draw in new naturists all the time despite the challenge of discovering its site tucked away near National Trust woodland ... everyone has a 'first time' .... here a new member explains ...
Having navigated our way along the avenue of 'sleeping policemen', negotiated the potholes and avoided hoards of National Trust walkers, we found the entrance to Heritage.
The first time we saw 'the gate' we thought, "Hmm. Colditz, The Alamo or The Secret Garden? " As before, we were greeted warmly and made to feel welcome. This was our last official visit to Heritage as guests. Would we become members? We had enjoyed many a naturist holiday on the beaches and in the countryside of France but did we want to belong to a naturist club in the UK? Well, we weren't quite sure.
We do love barn dancing so an invitation to the annual Heritage Barn Dance was too tempting an offer to refuse. However, there was one obvious question:
"Er urn, er... well, are we expected to barn dance... you know... 'au naturel'?''
"Oh no - of course not," came the reply.
What a relief!
When we arrived for the Barn Dance we were taken to a table in the impressive new conservatory. We met lots of people (whom we have since been unable to identify 'sans vetements') and we loved the dancing and good humour of the evening. The band was brilliant, so much so that we discussed the possibility of kidnapping them, but we were assured that they were regulars so we'd see them again at future barn dances.
What was that?
See them again!
Did this mean that the Secret Garden, hidden behind the well-kept boundary hedges and 'the gate', had worked its magic spell and we were being tempted to join? Either that or we had drunk too much lemonade.
Suddenly, as if from nowhere, appeared the Membership Secretary, and before we knew it, we had signed up to be members of Heritage. (B & R)
annual Tombola for Cancer Relief
HERITAGE members have raised prodigious amounts for national cancer charities organised by J & G - two long standing female members. The tombola brings hundreds of members together - and it helps if the sun is shining (which it was in 2001).
Huge congratulations to all those involved in the running of this great show. No end of hard work was undoubtedly involved in the collection of prizes, badgering shops etc. to provide prizes for a good cause.
It was a fantastic day and something to be proud of, particularly since the total raised for Cancer Relief on that single day was a staggering: £1016.70!
2001 - A baby Odyssey - three baby girls born to HERITAGE members. Baby E made her first visit to the club just three days old!
There are many members who have enjoyed HERITAGE for nearly all their lives.
We have only recently heard of the untimely death of Gwen who was married to John. They both were prominent Club members for many year and our sympathies go to their children who were themselves brought up at Heritage.
Also came the news of the death earlier in the year of Frank (95), one of our oldest life members-in both senses. Frank was a prominent and respected figure in naturism. He was not only a member of Heritage but also belonged to several clubs including the Naturist Foundation.
It was not until the summer that we heard from her son of the death of Mary (91) last December. Mary and Bill were members of Heritage in the late forties and fifties, then rejoining in 1975. Following Bill's death a couple of years ago, Mary was unable to visit the Club but kept in touch with a few members. Sadly, during the last year or so she had suffered a good deal of pain and discomfort.
first experience at Heritage
Our first visit at Heritage was grim ... the weather was awful. We were both hoping that the sun would come out but it just got worse! Still - we like what we saw - and decided to try again.
On the 1st July we left Kent once more for the Tombola day. As we hit the M25 the clouds started to roll in. Lady luck must have been smiling for as we joined the M3 the sun finally came out.
We got to Heritage at 11:30, met V again, parked the car in the shade and left our things in the club house.
this was my first time ever in the sun, I put on the lotions on every
white bit ... well you know - everywhere, and grabbed our towels and
magazines to look for a nice spot for sunbathing.
To my surprise we won five prizes at the tombola (no .. it is not rigged for new members!) and finally I decided I needed a swim to cool off! The water was cold ( it was 80F! ed.) but the children in the pool were having the time of their lives.
Finally we left at 15:30 having had a fab day out and we are looking forward to the next visits!! (D & T)
New potential members are met by the membership team and come for an initial three visits, usually on a Sunday
[ see our web pages on membership ] .