“Hastings Fly Fishers came about due to a small group of friends chatting in a car park” – Bob Dove, Ben Hicks, Rod Hicks, John Macleod, Alan Rogers and Brian Walker, later to be known as the “Car Park Six”.
It was stated that as we were all fly fishers what could we do about promoting the sport with ideals and standards we want. Bob Dove then said, “We need to form a Club that meets the standards we believe in” – or words to that effect.
Sounds all very simple doesn’t it? However, it wasn’t quite as easy as it sounds.
The other members present all agreed with the principle of starting a club but realised that we needed to have a proper meeting to discuss the ways and means of achieving this. After some preliminary discussions we all agreed to meet at to see if it was feasible for us to start a new fly fishing club.
Two weeks later the meeting was held with the original half dozen, supplemented by another friend, Dave Cavanagh, and Ben’s wife Imogen.
After much debate it was decided that there was enough interest and enthusiasm to go head and try to get a fly fishing club up and running.
The initial cost of setting up the Club was underwritten by Bob. Imogen agreed to be responsible for organising a bank account and Bob would look into the issues of incorporation and insurance.
Ben took on the responsibility of finding a venue to meet and all others present took on jobs that needed to be done to make it possible to progress past the planning stage. Brian Walker suggested that the name of the Club should be Hastings Fly Fishers and this was endorsed.
Within six weeks of the “Car Park Meeting” an inaugural meeting was held, again at the home of Ben and Imogen, at which we were able to announce our incorporation was complete and that we had obtained insurance. At the inaugural meeting were the original car park six plus Imogen and Dave Cavanagh together with Dave and Pat Wiggins and now distant members Tony and Terena Druce.
Negotiations were underway for a venue and these negotiations were successfully completed the following week.
We met in the new premises (still our current meeting premises) eight weeks after the “Car Park Meeting” as a fully incorporated Club of just the minimum numbers for legal incorporation and insurance purposes.
We had an Executive of John Macleod as President, Bob as Secretary, Imogen as Treasurer and Ben as Vice President and also acting as Club Captain. Bob also took on the role of producing a monthly newsletter and Brian became the Club Public Officer. All other inaugural members took on a role necessary for the Club to succeed. We were on our way!
From the inception of the Club it was realised that we would need to rapidly recruit new members and consolidate the Club into a really viable proposition. All of us at some time had seen clubs fold due to stagnation and the inability to expand.
Plans were immediately put in place to get additional members and to run the Club in such a way that retention of members was optimised.
Various strategies were put in place to achieve these objectives. They included such things as Fly Tie demonstrations, Casting Days and Guest Speakers at some meetings where possible.
The Fly Tie Demonstrations were usually held at busy shopping centres where the profile of the Club was promoted and active recruitment took place. It also raised awareness of the Club and Fly Fishing in the Area.
Club Captain, Ben Hicks ran casting lessons and demonstrations at the local Community College and recruited members via this avenue. Guest Speakers were invited to address the Club and we actively sought sponsorship of our activities.
At an early Club meeting a member had stated that we should aim for a membership of 40 within five years. At the time this seemed reasonable if a little ambitious considering that another local fly fishing club had been going some seven or eight years and had only ever had a little over 20 members of whom some were fairly inactive.
However, the Club was fairly confident that we could attract the required members over the proposed period even allowing for drop outs and non-renewals, something that all Clubs face.
The Club constitution recommends Executive Members serve only two consecutive terms. However, at the end of the first year Imogen Archer stood down as Treasurer due to work commitments. She remained in the Club and is still an active member. Brian Walker, an inaugural member, took over the reins.
During the latter half of the second year of the Club’s existence John Macleod stood down as President and Ben Hicks took over as Club President. A new Vice President was elected and we welcomed Dawn Hopkins as our Vice President. Dawn was a fairly new female member of the Club but was already demonstrating leadership qualities.
The Club continued to expand and consolidate its position throughout its first and second years via the already mentioned strategies. What had become obvious was that the Club had an ethos of sociability among its members and was very family orientated. This was evidenced by the number of female and junior member we were attracting. Our youngest member was a 7 year old girl and our oldest member was a female in her eighties.
We had started our Club with Imogen Archer as our inaugural Treasurer and this complete ethos of gender equality in the Club continues. This has been an important feature of the Club and has enabled the Club to continually expand.