We spoke with the nominees for the LONDON FOR GROUPS Organising Member of the Year award to hear about them, their organisations and the work that they do:
Anne Barnes - The Comets, Metropolitan Police Sports and Social Association
“I organise trips for a very diverse group, arranging family events, theatre trips and experiences. Within the Comets we have a Wine Society, a Military History Society, alongside several sporting sections. I am interested in arranging “something different” for the group. Some of the more unusual visits I have been a trip to the Aldwych Underground Station, a tour of the Acton Train Depot, Climbing the Dome, The Bean to Bar Experience at Hotel Chocolat and back stage tours of theatres. The reason I love being a group organiser is that I can enjoy the camaraderie, talking to my members, enjoying the outing itself”
Irene Moore - Epsom & Ewell U3A
“My group covers day trips, holidays, events and theatre visits. We have a membership of over a 1000 people, with nearly 400 (and growing) in my Travel & Events Group. I have two "little helpers" Hannah does the admin and Jill organises the theatre visits. With so much to cover I am so pleased with their help. I have been very lucky that the trips and events I have organised must have been good as they fill up very quickly. The companies I have used this year are InterChoice and Harry Shaw. I find that these two companies have a very good customer service, which is so important when I am responsible for so much and so many people, ensuring they all enjoy themselves.”
Jackie Ames - Unity 70
“I have volunteered at Unity 70 since 1975 and took over organisation in 1986. We are an integrated social club, bringing folks with disabilities and able bodied together, to meet weekly, and to go out and have fun – and we do just that! In 2022 I arranged multiple UK short breaks, and twenty day trips, including theatre visits, boat trips, zoos, museums, and steam train journeys, plus lunches and teas. I’m always on the lookout for new ideas and activities for the groups I’m involved with – we’re lucky to have so much on our doorstep, living in London! To start 2023, we have an afternoon tea, and the following day we’re off to our local theatre for a panto.”
Neil Edeson - Complete Pleisure Limited
“I organised my first group to see Crazy For You in the West End in 1995 - 28 years later I am still enjoying organising trips for friends, family, work colleagues and many others. 2022 was our busiest year to date and 2023 is promising to be even busier! Last year we visited 36 West End shows, 16 day excursions, short breaks & holidays, including a week touring Scotland; Keukenhof Gardens and Floriade; Maastricht to see Andre Rieu in concert; Paris for Versailles and Monet’s Garden; Ypres for the WWI Battlefields and Rouen and Amiens for the Christmas Markets. 2022 saw us enjoy a trip to Warner Leisure Hotels for the first time & 2023 sees us set off on our first cruise.”
Patricia Crooks - Freemans Sports & Leisure Club
“For 37 years I’ve worked for Freemans Mail Order and I took full charge of Trip, Events and Holidays. Pre-covid I was organising 30 trips per year, long halls, weekends away, theatre productions once a month and family fun day trips, with group sizes up to 200 people. All of the work I do is voluntary, and I honestly can say I get a lot of satisfaction doing so, especially when the Clients, ask for more and more and recommend me to others. I’ve recently been asked to take care of the retired staff and other groups, which keeps me very busy considering that I have an incurable health condition, it takes away my own feelings and concentrate on others…”
Shirley Ward - Shirley Tours
“I first started organising coach trips 1982. I was nicknamed “Shirley Tours” and the name stuck. Since then it progressed from a few day trips a year to up to 20 day trips a year, plus holidays abroad, theatre trips and a cruise planned for this year.
In May 2006 I was awarded The Mayor’s award for fundraising, and in June 2015 I was awarded the British Empire Medal for voluntary services in the community and I was lucky enough to be invited to the Queens Garden Party.
I run Shirley Tours voluntarily, and so far to date have raised a total of £106,873.60 for my local schools, church and scout group £23,084.86 for Lymphoma Association”