Running a Reunion
As someone who has organised, (and much enjoyed doing so), two reunions in the UK, the first centred on Marston St Lawrence and Oxford in 2007 and again at Blencowe Hall in 2010, I thought it might be helpful if I jotted down a few thoughts for those who might be thinking of arranging one in the future.
- I would be the first to acknowledge that a reunion in the UK has certain natural advantages over one say in Australia, America or elsewhere in the world. Here we have the buildings and villages within which our forefathers lived and worked. Thus a UK reunion inevitably is more geographical and historical, whereas elsewhere the emphasis is more on family relationships, with the thrill of discovering unknown cousins. Anne & Fran's aim to have mini family reunions within the large reunion certainly brought families together at Port Macquarie, NSW in 2008.
- It is vitally important to get to know and gain the support of the locals. Without the help, advice and encouragement of those in Marston St Lawrence, Weston Hall, Oxford, and recently at Blencow village, little would have been achieved. One might say that a reunion brings business to an area. Agreed, but all the locals went out of their way to help. An early recce to seek the help of the villagers is essential. Do make sure a list of those who assisted is kept for those who might plan a reunion in the future.
- I would suggest the opening event should be a dinner or lunch. This gets people together and also gives the organiser a chance to tell everyone the plans for the reunion and provides an opportunity to answer queries.
- Arranging accommodation for members attending is probably not necessary, and fraught with problems. With the assistance of Hotel and B&B information, people are quite capable of sorting out somewhere to stay.
- Reunions need not be 2 or 3 days affairs. Day mini reunions may well be another way forward. These have been held in a number of places with great success, and my wife and I plan to hold one in our house in June (details in this newsletter). I may well have some suggestions to make after it has taken place.
- Name labels are essential and if they can include family lines, all the better. I never achieved this! Blencowe memorabilia, family trees any family information all add to the interest.
- Even though Blencowes are naturally friendly, or we hope so, try and spot those who look a little lost. Delegating a few members to specifically look out for newcomers would be worth considering.
Finally, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me, if you think I can be of any help.