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November is, of course, the time when the annual list of paid-up members is issued.  In spite of fears to the contrary, the current list in this B.B. shows a total of 206 members - a gain of 2 on last year. While this is nothing to get wildly excited about, it is at least not the loss in membership that was predicted earlier on this year.

There is a danger when looking at membership figures of trying to read too much into them. However, on the principle that fools rush in where angels fear to tread, your editor will - perhaps foolishly - draw a few conclusions which may give the new membership secretary (when he or she has been appointed!) some food for thought.

There is no point, in my opinion, in having a vast drive for new members for its own sake. All this is most likely to do is to produce an unwieldy club full of the wrong sort of people.  On the other hand, the legacy we have with us as part of the price of getting the Belfry built is a large number of life members (27% of our total membership) who pay no further subscriptions - and a way to improve this ratio might not come amiss.

Incidentally, judging by the voting figures, the life members do not show up very well since only 34% of them voted - against 56% of the ordinary members.  This may, in some cases, be due to the fact that some life members, although still interested in the club, feel too out of touch to be able to vote.  On the other hand, it may be that some life members are no longer particularly interested.

If you look at the way in which club membership has grown over the years, you will find that the intake of new members has remained almost constant every year, at average of 27 per year since the end of the last war.  This year, with 24 new members, is quite typical - and there have been very few years which have not been.

The variation lies in the pattern of those who leave.  About half of these in a normal year are made up of people who have recently joined and - presumably - have not found caving, or climbing, or the B.E.C., to their liking.  Again this year is no exception - and there is little we can do about it.  The other half is made up of members of some years standing who, again presumably, find that they are losing interest or contact with the present club.  This is where I believe we could - and should - make some effort.

Many people have said to me that we should try to provide more for our older members. Perhaps gentler caving trips followed by social evenings from time to time.  It has even been suggested that we hold an older members dinner.  Other suggestions I have heard are that we should try to get older members up in the Belfry so that they could again get to know the present members of the club.

Looking at the present membership list, it is pleasant to see once more names like Arthur Ball, Stan Gee, Norman Petty, Phil Townsend and Mike Wheadon who, amongst others, have all re-joined this year.  With a bit of imagination and a little work, we could turn this trickle into a flood.

I must repeat that the above represents my personal view.  Perhaps you do not agree?  Perhaps you do?  In either case, why not write in with suggestions; offers, condemnations etc - so that we can all give the new membership secretary something to think about!