Update: The Retired Professional Engineers' Club, Bristol
The Retired Professional Engineers' Club, Bristol was established by Michael Clinch some 22 years ago but, over the last few years, has suffered from a failure to gain new members, decreasing attendance at meetings with no-one coming forward to replace retiring Committee members. This is a situation common to many social and charitable organisations, many of which have closed in recent years. The Bristol Association of Engineers closed at the end of 2015 after 120 years of distinguished existence. Failure to replace committee members is no reflection on the membership : many have served previously and are now too old or sick to serve again. Indeed, every remaining committee member has increasing health problems. It has also become increasingly difficult to find speakers for there is so much pressure within organisations these days.
An Extraordinary General Meeting was called on 11th January 2017 to consider the options available. The first was to close the Club definitively, with closure of the two web sites and total appropriate dispersal of the Club funds. The second was to keep the club in existence but essentially inactive, maintaining the two web sites for a nominal 10 years, with sufficient funds retained to support these expenses. This would be in the hope that some future generation of retired professional engineers would take on a readymade Club organisation, web sites, title and logo. Funds surplus to this would be utilised for some appropriate charitable objects - student prizes, student support or promotion of engineering as a profession to young people. There was overwhelming support for the second option, with a strong preference for promotion of the Engineering Professions we all love to young people. The existing Committee would then remain in office indefinitely to manage these desires and to hand over to any successor committee. It is hoped that some Club members would continue to come together informally several times a year for a meal. The pastoral aspect of the Club would be kept alive as much as possible
Maintenance of the website www.engineerswalk.co.uk is important as this has become a popular internationally recognised source of information about engineers having associations with Bristol, with many "hits" from the U.S.A., China & Australia. This complements the "Blue Plaques" erected around "@Bristol" and the Bristol Aquarium in the heart of Bristol. Some living engineers are included. Unfortunately, no more sites for these have been authorised but the website will continue to be extended.
It's not clear why there is such a drop in support for voluntary and charitable organisations, which is affecting many organisations such as Rotary, Probus, Womens' Institute, Mothers' Union etc. One possible cause is the combination of later retirement with pressure on younger people with families resulting in retired people needing to look after grandchildren. Possibly, too, older people are going on holiday more frequently. This does lead to concerns about pastoral care for older, more disabled people who risk becoming more isolated. I'm also aware that it has become more difficult to find leaders for youth organisations. Some part of this will be due to unwillingness to submit to the intrusive (if reasonable) checks made on would-be helpers, following scandals.
Eur Ing Michael D. Rowe C.Eng MIET - R.P.E.C. Chairman. (firstname.lastname@example.org) (Near Wells, Somerset)
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