50 years of Guildford Travel Club
Origins and the Early days
On 16 March 1966 the inaugural meeting of the Club was held at Guildford Rowing Club with over 50 attendees. The meeting was arranged by a small group of friends who outlined the possible activities of the Club. A steering committee was elected and 27 people signed up immediately as members. A programme of talks and speakers was arranged – with a similar format of meetings from October through to April set for the following 50 years. See the club timeline for some of the significant and not so significant events along the way (wine-tasting evenings seemed to be very popular in the early days!).
Bay Hyde was very much the driving force behind setting up the Club. She was already involved in the All Nations Club, International Voluntary Service and numerous other Guildford organisations.
Guildford and Travel in the late '60s
Guildford in the mid 60s was very different to now. Although a visitor from the past would notice little obvious change in the High Street; the buildings and the surrounding roads, including the one-way system have changed considerably.
Travel abroad was in its infancy for the general public with package tours being a fairly recent innovation. One of the early meetings of the Club featured a caravan rally.
Speakers & Presidents
Over the years the Club built up an excellent reputation for the quality of its speakers and the range of talks covering every part of the world and different types of travel.
The Club was also fortunate in having a number of its own members giving talks at AGMs, Socials and Members Evenings in addition to the programmed talks. Members talks have covered an equally wide range of destinations and types of holiday.
Some of the better known speakers who have talked at the Club are Jonathan Scott (TVs Big Cat Diaries) and George Band (climber on the successful 1953 Everest Expedition).
A number of the professional speakers became good friends of the Club and many of them served as Club Presidents – some more than once.
While talks have always been the main focus of the Club, in the early days there were a wide range of other activities, many of which involved wine tasting from various countries!
For many years there was also a very active walking group.
The Club’s programme has also included at least one social evening every season. These also reflect the changing times – the early days saw dinner-dances and evenings showcasing the customs and traditions of other countries. In recent years a quiz, a member's talk and buffet made by members have featured.
Fundraising & Operation Drake
From it’s very early days the Club has raised money for various charities, including in November 1984 for 5 Venturers from Surrey who had been selected to take part in Operation Raleigh.
The Club was also very involved in Operation Drake and the selection of local volunteers - raising £1250. John Blashford-Snell and Richard Snailham were the driving forces behind these efforts and came regularly to talk to the Club about their latest adventures. Members of the Club were also involved, in particular Audrey Olley (long term member, committee member, speaker and Club president).
During the 50th Anniversary season, Club Members were asked for any memories they had of the Club.
Over the years the Club has celebrated its main anniversaries, initially with a dinner-dance, then with members dinners; for the 40th a social; and the 50th the anniversary talk and social.
At the 50th evening Audrey Olley and Gerry Holman were presented with lifelong memberships in recognition of their long service to the Club. <photo gallery of 50th anniversary evening coming soon>
During the 50th anniversary year an article, written by the current Club Chairman, Janet Parsons, appeared in the Guildford Round and About Magazine, entitled Never Ending Journeys.