2016 – Article from ‘The News’

Article courtesy of Jeff Travis @ ‘The News’ – printed February 26th 2016

It started in the 1960s as a way for local businessmen to give something back to the community.

And, 52 years on, Hayling Island Businessmen’s Club is still going strong. It’s motto is ‘Working for Hayling’ and it’s certainly done that over the years.

Dozens upon dozens of smaller charities and organisations, anything from Scout groups to children’s choirs, have been helped over the years. The pride and joy of the club is its community minibus, which has transported hundreds of children and elderly people across the area.

I join the businessmen as they gather round the table at Seacourt Tennis Club on Hayling for their fortnightly meeting and luncheon. It’s a fairly formal affair, with the chairman Brian Smith wearing a glittering red chain around his neck. The chain has the names of every single chairman of the club going to back Bob Green in 1964. Wearing the chain is not something Brian takes lightly.

‘It’s a great honour,’ says Brian, who is the officer manager at Belcher Frost in Emsworth and lives on Hayling. ‘The club has been responsible for many good things over time. ‘If you were to scan back to previous chairmen, you would see that the position is held by particularly fine gentlemen and I’m hoping I will carry on that tradition. ‘It comes with great responsibility because you feel you have to maintain that very high standard.’

The members are all suited and booted and wearing the same tie, but it’s not all ceremonial – there are plenty of laughs and jokes during the meeting. There’s a trophy for ‘Mug of the meeting’ for whoever upsets the chairman the most. Andy Lenaghan, a former driver of the minibus, says he loves ‘the camaraderie’. Andy says Hayling is ‘a unique community’ and the island’s pride had contributed to the success of the club and fostered its longevity.

John Cottle, 78, from Hayling, joined in 1975 and was made a life member five years ago. ‘It was really meant for the Hayling shopkeepers, bank managers, solicitors – all island people,’ says John, who had a plumbing and heating business for 40 years. ‘That’s how it used to be. ‘As times have gone on and family businesses have folded, the membership has been extended to people outside the island. ‘I remember when I was being interviewed for membership here, what were my reasons for joining? ‘I remember answering that I was born and bred on Hayling Island and I had got an awful lot out of Hayling Island. ‘I felt it was time to put something back. ‘I think I have achieved that and I’m very proud of that.’

The club is gearing up for its big fundraiser of the year, the barbecue at Northney Farm, held on Saturday, July 9. There are 500 tickets to sell.

John says: ‘We put a lot of work into that in the days prior to the event. ‘We start to put the whole thing together and clear up the farmyard and build everything. ‘Then we spend the Sunday clearing up. We all have to put a lot of our time in.’

After talking to the men for an hour or so, it’s clear this is a club with masses of pride that is all about old-fashioned goodwill and philanthropy. ‘Fundraising activities are our mainstay,’ adds Brian. ‘It motivates us to keep going. ‘We see a local positive result rather than large charity concerns that perhaps get a higher profile.’ And I’m pleased to confirm that no pigs are harmed during one of the charity’s other annual fundraisers – the pig racing night at the community centre. All the pigs are plastic.

Club reports over the years

Club report, February 1964

It was reported that the club had taken 26 very elderly folk to the pantomime in Portsmouth. On arriving home at Hayling Island a count revealed that we had brought back 28. The two ‘extra’ old ladies had no idea they were on the wrong coach and neither did our ‘own’ 26. The ‘extras’ were duly returned to Portsmouth, put aboard their correct coach (which was still waiting for them) and were apparently none the worse for their adventure and unexpected chat with strangers.

Club report, 
April 1964

The first luncheon meeting of the club was held at the West Town Hotel with an attendance of 21. Many members came forward with ideas, Cecil Walker offered to provide a television set for mentally handicapped children at Orchid Close. Phil Clarke offered free tickets on his merry-go-round for these same children on one or two days a week. Seven members offered themselves as drivers for the old folk’s bus, others agreed to use their own cars for hospital visiting. It was agreed 10 elderly people in need of a holiday should be sponsored on a one-week trip to Swanage.

Club report, 1967

The club went from strength to strength during its first three years. An average of £700 a year was raised by members and spent on the welfare of the needy in Hayling. A new chairman was elected by the members each year and the outgoing one presented with an engraved tankard. The first three chairmen were Bob Green, Alec Brennan and Will Venton in that order. Throughout this period the club arranged regular coach outings to beauty spots and continued to support the annual holiday of 20 needy people to the Isle of Wight.

Club report, 
February 1987

The Doug Broughton Cup for the member who did most for Hayling Island Businessmen’s Club in 1986 was awarded to Pat Keane. The cup was awarded at the club’s 23rd annual meeting held at the Buccaneer’s Tavern. There were several nominations for the Wooden Spoon Award for the ‘biggest stirrer’ of 1986 and a ballot resulted in Ray Silvester as the winner. He received the award with good grace and said he hoped to retain it for another year!

Club highlights

  • The club organises the senior citizens’ Christmas party at Sinah Warren on Hayling.
  • The club buys and distributes theatre tickets for senior citizens in conjunction with Hayling Island Dramatic Society.
  • It sponsors the Geoff Foot Sportsperson of the year award at Hayling College.
  • The club runs the island’s community bus, which costs £700 a month.
  • It sponsors the Wally Egan achiever of the year award at Hayling College
  • It supports local schools and youth organisations with donations.
  • Numerous charitable grants are given to worthwhile causes and organisations on the island.

For more information visit hibc.org.uk.

To enquire about booking the minibus contact Trevor Slydell at minibus@hibc.org.uk.

For information about tickets to the Northney Barbecue e-mail us at tickets@hibc.org.uk.