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4 Social Activities

Part 4 - Social Activities


Club social events have always served two purposes. Firstly, they allow and encourage members and their families, many of whom are not sailing enthusiasts, to mix in pleasant circumstances. This fosters a Club community spirit, or esprit de corps. Secondly, they provide income. Since the bar opened in 1987, fund raising ie social functions, the bar, jumble sales, etc has provided between 7% and 23% of the Club's annual income.

As mentioned in Part 1, in the early years fund raising events were generally constrained to occasional barbecues and jumble sales plus the annual dinner. Tuesday Club nights, with a programme of talks, provided a regular opportunity to meet. This remained so until well into the 70s albeit some of the events were notably popular; over 80 attended the dinner/dance held in November 1971.

In 1976 the Commodore, Alan Flack, suggested that a social committee be formed to arrange at least four main functions a year. This initiative seems to have succeeded as a year later he reported "thanks to a hard-working social sub-committee we have enjoyed more functions than in past years and a considerable sum of money has been made." In 1976 a jumble sale and a party had raised a total of £138 whereas social events in 1977 brought in £624.

The driving force behind fund raising from 1977 to 1988 was Sheila Jobling who was Social Secretary for all but one of those years. In the early 80s a typical season would have 7 to 10 scheduled events including at least two discos, two jumble sales, a dinner/dance and a beach party. There would also be a garden party in mid June at 12 Old Street, Hill Head, the home of Sheila and Barry Jobling. By the time Sheila was thinking of stepping down, programmes had expanded to more that a dozen events primarily by the addition of post-sailing socials eg to celebrate the end of training, the Commodore's Challenge, the Regatta and the Half Ton Cup.

Left - Shipwreck Party 1986; Right - The Palace of Varieties 1990

Renata Lister took over from Sheila and introduced dramatic art to the schedule, for example "The Palace of Varieties" in 1990 (pictured above), "Up Pompeii" in 1991 and the pantomime in 1994. At the end of 1995 no one volunteered to take on the arduous and time-consuming role of Social Secretary and the Club was forced into re-thinking how to organise social events. Several lady-members volunteered to form a "Social Committee", initially headed by Carol Wealthy and Wendy Stubbs with Edie Sampson acting as the link between this group, dubbed "The Coven", and the Committee. This worked so well that at the 1996 AGM the outgoing (again) Commodore, Alan Flack, declared "Social Secs were out, Covens were in". Fiona Brocklehurst coordinated social activities for the next 5 years to be relieved, at the end of 2001, by Viv Rance who is currently still in this post.

The Bar and Licensing

Prior to 1986, to legalise the supply of alcohol for social events, the Club relied on ad hoc permission licences up to four per year and on the good nature of a local landlord (of "The Osborne View") to act as the Club's sponsor. In February 1986 a Bar Committee was formed to look into registering the Club premises to supply alcohol. The Club was granted a Club Registration Certificate by Fareham Magistrates Court in September. To support this, a resolution was passed at the 1986 AGM to introduce Byelaws relating to guests and the purchase and supply of excisable goods.

At their meeting in November 1986, the Bar Committee agreed:

  • The price of beer should be increased minimally to 65p per pint to ensure a reasonable profit
  • The bar should open on Tuesday Club nights, Thursday sailing evenings, at all social events and, subject to demand, on Sunday lunch times between 1 June and 1 September
  • Opening times should be within the licensing rules but as per membership demand
  • Spirits and wine would be stowed at the "Seven Sevens"
  • "Seven Sevens" was a guest house in Hill Head (now named "Trevarner") owned by Alan Flack, a Club Trustee and member of the Bar Committee.

    At the beginning of 1987, the Osborne View closed temporarily for alterations. The close relationship between the Club and the pub led to Seafarers acquiring a bar and lots of bar furniture. The Director of Badgers Brewery and the publican of the Osborne View were invited to the Commodore's Evening in March.

    The Club's first "Bar Manager" was Barry Whybrow. Barry was already on the Committee having served as a member without portfolio since November 1985 alongside his wife, Phyllis, who was serving as Honorary Secretary.

    Bar in use July 1987

    In September 1987, Fareham Magistrates Court permitted the Club to renew its Registration Certificate. Subsequent renewals were at five years intervals. In September 1997, renewal had to be postponed because the Club Rules did not explicitly require that a minimum of 48 hours had to pass between an application for membership and admission. An appropriate change to the Club Rules was passed at the 1997 AGM and the Registration Certificate granted.

    The final renewal application was made to the Portsmouth Law Courts in November 2002. A Club Registration Certificate was granted which should have been valid for five years at a cost of £16. However, the 2003 Licensing Act intervened (remember the headlines "24 Hour Opening"?). The Act established a single scheme for licensing premises covering the sale of alcohol, entertainment and late night refreshments. Responsibility for issuing licences moved from Justices of the Peace to local authorities. The Act came into force in November 2005. The Club's licence, issued by Fareham Borough Council, cost £180 per year in 2005. Amazingly, it still does!

    The bar provides support and focus to Club events. New Members Happy Hours and barbecues would be far less successful without a bar and opening after racing has proved very popular of late. The bar has also provided significant income. After its first full year of operation, 1987/88, the bar accounts revealed a net income of £1,000 and a value of stock of £400. The bar accounts for 2018/19 show a net income of £2,060 and a value of stock of £840.

    Dinner-Dance/Laying-Up Supper

    The annual dinner-dance or Laying-Up Supper has been held in late November or early December almost every year since the Club was formed. From the late 70s until the end of the millennium the commonest venue by far was The Belle Vue Hotel in Lee-on-the-Solent. This was despite occasional misgivings that it was expensive and service too slow and the inevitable pressure of selling enough tickets; the minimum was usually 80 to 100. Other venues were tried. The Swordfish was used at least once. In 1993 the dinner-dance was held in March at Maylings Manor Hotel in Highlands Road, Fareham. The same venue was booked for a Summer Ball the following June. When, with 2 weeks to go, only 15 tickets had been sold, the event was cancelled. Maylings Manor would not return or carry forward the £100 deposit. The Belle Vue was then booked for the end-of-1994 dinner dance and, subsequently, for each of the following 4 years. Only 65 attended the 1998 dinner-dance, significantly below the minimum 80 stipulated. The reaction of The Belle Vue led to a search for a new venue.

    Through a family connection, the then Rear Commodore, Tim Wadham, managed to book the Lee-on-the-Solent Golf Club. This proved very popular and was the venue for the Laying-Up Supper every year from 1999 to 2011 with one exception. As the Club had booked the Golf Club for its Golden Anniversary Dinner in January 2011, an "informal" but catered Laying Up Supper was held in the clubhouse in November 2010.

    In 2012, the Laying Up Supper was held at the clubhouse and comprised a Hog Roast provided by outside caterers followed by desserts created 'in house'. Every year since then, the Laying-Up Supper and Prize Giving have been held in the clubhouse on the same evening, in late November or early December.

    With no dance floor, the in-house Laying Up supper lacked dancing. Our Commodore, Phil Warwick, being a member of Hornet Services Sailing Club (HSSC), managed to book their excellent facilities in Gosport for a Seafarers dinner dance in March 2018. This was a great success and the same venue was used again in July 2019. The Club had scheduled another dinner dance at HSSC for 2020. Unfortunately, the Coronavirus pandemic led to this being cancelled.

    Left - Lee on the Solent Golf Club 2004: Right - Hornet Services Sailing Club 2019

    Prize Giving and the Christmas Draw

    The first recorded prize giving was in 1970 when, at the AGM in November, Vic Bryant, Peter Rayner and Andrew Reeve were presented with prizes for performing extremely well sailing 'Mirror' dinghies in the Hill Head Triangulation race. The presentation of prizes at the AGM continued until 1977. By then the prizes included the Thatched Cottage Cup for the Most Improved Cadet and the Harry Formby Newton Trophy for the Most Improved Novice. In 1978 the names of the prize-winners were read out at the AGM but the trophies were presented at a disco early in December. The Prize-giving Disco became a feature of the Club programme for the next 10 years, always in November or December and usually at the clubhouse. Notable exceptions were the prize-givings in December 1981 and 1982 when the venue was the "Park Hotel" in Gosport. The disco element was dropped in 1988. From then until 2006, prize-giving was accompanied by an American supper. Meanwhile, another event evolved, the Christmas Draw. This began at the end of the 80s as a few mince pies and sausage rolls on the last Tuesday evening before Christmas. By the end of the 90s, thanks largely to the efforts of the Assistant Bar Manager/Bar Manager/Commodore Eric Kettle, a very popular Draw had been established. By 2006 attendances at the prize-giving had dropped to the point where something had to be done. The following year, Prize-giving and Draw Night appeared in the programme together. This continued until 2013. Since then, Prize Giving has taken place on the evening of the Laying-Up Supper.

    Prize Giving - 1985, 1994 and 2018

    Jumble Sales

    Jumble sales which began as bazaars at the Hammond Hall in 1962 and 1963, soon became annual fixtures and a useful source of income. In 1975 jumble sales brought in £100 of total income of £1,410 (2009 - £220 of total £15,800). Throughout most of the 80s and 90s there were two each year, one in April and one in October, both at the Scout Hut in Bells Lane. In 1996 the Club was told that, as it was not a registered charity, it could no longer hire the Scout Hut; a room in Crofton Community Centre was booked. The following year it was decided that there would be only one jumble sale per year; this was held in April at the Community Centre. From 1998 until 2008 the jumble sale was held at Holy Rood Church Hall. Since then the event has almost always been in March. In 2009 the Club returned to the Scout Hut then in 2010 it moved to the Catholic Church in Bells Lane. The 2019 Jumble Sale, held at the Catholic Church Hall, raised a record £360 (net) for the Club.

    Jumble Sales - Scout Hut 2009 and Catholic Church 2019

    Commodore's at Home

    Many of the local Sailing Clubs hold informal social evenings to which they invite the Commodores of neighbouring Clubs. The "Commodore's Evening" first appeared in the Seafarers annual programme in 1986. They were usually held on a Saturday, initially in March then in October. Local sailing clubs and, for example, representatives of the RYA and HM Coastguard, were invited. In 1997, re-titled "Commodore's At Home" and held in December, it became a lunchtime event. Since 2001 the "At Home" has been held in February.

    Commodore's At Home - with Deputy Mayor in 2011, with Officer of Lee on the Solent SC in 2016 , with Geoff Holt in 2019

    Trafalgar Night

    The Club first adopted the naval tradition of celebrating Nelson's famous victory off Cape Trafalgar with a dinner in 1988. On that first occasion there was an American supper and no entrance fee. The second Trafalgar Night, held on 20 October 1990, was the more traditional formal dinner with seating limited to 40. By the beginning of October all tickets had been sold. Over the next 5 Octobers one Trafalgar Night dinner was sandwiched between two Halloween parties, a Boat Race and a Polish Peasant Night. From 1996 to 2008 there was a Trafalgar Night formal dinner every year with tickets for the limited seats always in demand. In 2005 the social programme also included a "Pickle Night", an evening when Warrant officers and senior ratings of the Royal Navy hold their own celebration marking the arrival of HMS Pickle in Falmouth with news of the victory and of Nelson's death. Traditionally held at the beginning of November, Seafarers' first Pickle Night was held on 9 July 2005.

    In 2009 Trafalgar Night was replaced by a hugely popular Bavarian-themed "Oktoberfest" with beef goulash, Black Forest gateaux and steins of beer. In 2010 there was a less-formal Trafalgar Night event dubbed "Gun Deck Dinner". For the following decade, the October events comprised five formal Trafalgar Nights interlaced with a halloween Night, a Curry Night and two RNLI Fish Suppers. A second Pickle Night was scheduled for 31 October 2020 but this was another casualty of the Coronavirus pandemic.

    Trafalgar Night - 1988 and 2018

    Darts and Snooker

    The Club's first 'at home' darts fixture was on Tuesday 26 January 1988. The Club then entered a team every year into a competition involving up to seven local sailing clubs until 2014.

    Since the mid 1990s the Club has also taken part in a series of inter-Club snooker matches hosted by Lee-on-the-Solent Sailing Club (LOSSC). With the closure of LoSSC's clubhouse prior to demolition in 2016, the winter 2016/17 competition was held over five evenings at Stubbington Snooker Club. With the closure of Stubbington Snooker Club, in 2019 the competition moved to Fareham Snooker Club in Broadcut. LoSSC's new clubhouse is to include a snooker room. The inter-club competition hopes to return home at the end of 2021.

    Coffee Morning

    At the beginning of 2009, Mike Burlingham, Club Secretary at the time, discovered that his neighbour, Hilde Reucroft, had been running a monthly coffee morning at Hill Head Sailing Club for decades. It occurred that such an event might prove popular with some Seafarers. With the agreement of the Committee, this initiative was trialled on 22 May.

    The event was judged a success and became a fixture. Over the years, attendees have included children and dogs and have, occasionally, exceeded thirty in number. Since 2013, the September event has become a "Macmillan Coffee Morning" with cakes supplied free by Coven members and all donations going to the charity.

    Left - Coffee Morning December 2009; Right - Macmillan Coffee Morning September 2016

    Craft Corner

    At about the time her husband Clive was elected Commodore of Seafarers, Gill Dakin decided to organise some craft workshops. The first session was in April 2013 and for the following five years there was a Craft Corner session approximately once every month throughout the sailing season. By the end of the 2017 season there had been a total of 37 sessions enjoyed by a varied but enthusiastic clientele.

    At the end of 2017, Gill Dakin decided to hand over the reins. Her initiative, and hard work, meant there was strong support for the Craft Corner to continue. Viv Rance, our Social Secretary, took over the role of organising the sessions.

    The group now meets thoughout the year usually at the beginning of each month. The sessions are either a 'free activity' or a workshop led by a volunteer or an invited professional. Donations to cover tea and coffee are £1 for 'free activity' sessions and £2 for a workshop session to also cover the cost of materials. A total of 62 sessions had taken place by the end of 2019 with themes including cake making, calligraphy, crochet, lino cutting, pottery, photography, seasonal gifts and watercolours.

    Left - Pottery February 2016; Right - Art August 2017

    Last updated 11:33 on 17 May 2024

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