This January, Leigh Travel Club enters its tenth year. This remarkable achievement stems from one determined woman and her supportive husband. Lynda Willens was frustrated by the lack of travel clubs in her Essex area, finding that those that did exist were too formal or too unstructured. She didn’t want to join a club that took minutes and elected presidents, but neither did she just want to go down the local pub and chat informally about holidays. Together with husband John, she came up with a plan for a club that would bridge the gap and Leigh Travel Club was born.
The first meeting took place back in January 2006, when Lynda and John delivered a talk on their trip to Angkor Wat in Cambodia to a small but keen audience. Some of those people are still active members of the club today. I’m proud to be one of them. Each month since that first meeting, a member of the club or a visiting speaker has given a presentation. The featured destinations have spanned the globe – from Antigua to Zimbabwe via the Trans-Siberian, luxury cruising and a canoe down the Congo. It’s as an eclectic a mix as they come.
John says he’s hard pushed to pick a favourite talk. “Sometimes a presentation surprises you, it’s not what you expect,” he says. “I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed them all.”
Even though the club has grown, its strength is still the warm welcome extended to members old and new. The monthly meeting sticks to a tried and tested format – Lynda is responsible for front of house operations and John ensures the presentations will run with no technical hitches. Each meeting is characterised by friendly banter and, occasionally, a good-natured fight for the last Wagon Wheel. The programme of speakers is taking shape for 2015, with a Californian road trip, cycle holiday in Germany and a taste of Sicily kicking off the year.
Lynda and John are as enthusiastic now as they’ve ever been and have no intentions of stepping down just yet, though they’d like to pass on the reins to someone else eventually – so long as they remain true to the club’s ethos. I speak for all of the members when I say a big thank you to them both for all their hard work and wish them the very best for this very special year!