The Association Conference was the bond between the members and the Executive when most of the District would stay at the same hotel. The Doric in Blackpool, was one hotel where we got to know each other better, swapped information about what was going on in our Club, and formed long and lasting friendships - especially over a drink or two in the bar or each others’ rooms. On the Monday evening at the hotel, where most of D24 and D19 stayed, we met up with Clubs we had already formed a link to in D19, or, if we hadn’t done so, we formed a new link.
Conferences were a time to let one’s hair down and enjoy the four day break, although during the day we attended the Conference sessions and entertainment. At the end of the Conference, a weary group would make their way home but meet again our newly made friends from other Clubs at forthcoming District events.
Bobbie Anselmi (Clacton IW) mentioned the time when attending the Conference in Blackpool she had taken a lovely knitted hat to wear at the Conference sessions (hats, posh suits and furs were worn in those days) but when Bobbie looked for her hat she couldn’t find it anywhere in the hotel room so had to go without it. That night, when she was getting ready for bed, Bobbie found the chambermaid had tucked her nightie inside the hat thinking it was a nightdress case.
Another member from the same Club decided to spray her straw hat the same colour as her outfit which caused quite a stir because of the fumes. All these little things added to the enjoyment of being away with our fellow members, sharing drinks and anecdotes in each others’ rooms of an evening.
Around 1991/92 a District Chairman mentioned how there was an increasing number of charity events to interclubs; in the early years there were so many interclubs which, with the Chairman visiting both Club meetings and interclubs, could mean being out several times a week. However, one was always royally received, entertained and Oh! so much fine food.
District Friendship evenings over the 40 years have always been popular and have been celebrated in a number of ways. To name a few, there have been quizzes, games evenings and “D24 has talent” whereby members supplied the entertainment including the Executive. PDC Mavis Berry was a marvel, arranging words to Gilbert and Sullivan music.
On one occasion a group of Rotarians from the Chairman’s corresponding Rotary Club came along to do “Old MacDonald had a Farm”. Having one Rotarian short, an Inner Wheel member was asked to stand in, or should I say bend over in the back of a cow. Unfortunately, as the front of the cow got off the stage the member lost her balance and ended up sitting on the stage in fits of giggles. The cow was going nowhere, her husband was in the front and was not a “Happy Bunny” – sorry, cow!
Each year, early in July, the members of the Executive of every District attend Leicester University for the Association Assembly where they discuss and learn about anything new to do with their role as an officer. Everything about the Assembly has changed so much.
The rooms used to be very basic with just a bed, desk, small wardrobe and a washbasin. Shared washing and toilet facilities were further along the corridor with maybe two baths, four shower cubicles and toilets. There were no tea making facilities in the room so everyone would congregate in a shared kitchen, which was also down the corridor, and it was sensible to take your own tea/coffee as there could well be a shortage. The final evening saw some Executives put on entertainment. The new Association President’s District Executive would do a theme on her life and show very old photos etc. gladly given by family or friends. The entertainment has now been abolished, rooms are more up to modern day standards with en suite and tea/ coffee making facilities, but the friendship and fun hasn’t changed one iota.
Wonderful times have been spent going to International Conventions in various countries, listening to the proposals put forward for changes to the constitution which would affect us all and enjoying the entertainment based on the culture of the host country. There was also the hospitality evening where many members have made a lasting friendship or friendships with Inner Wheel members from other countries.