I would like to comment on Billy Gawn’s Message in the September 2003 issue but before doing so must take the opportunity to congratulate Billy on his retirement from the Chair and warmly recognise the tremendous job he has done in bringing the Earth Energies Group to where it is today. As he reaches his 70th birthday he will no doubt become even more active and I am sure everyone will wish to enjoy a continuing input from him.
In his message Billy expressed concern about the issues of attendance at meetings, static membership numbers and getting people to do things for the Group. For the last 22 years I have been running West Midland Dowsers and have seen all these factors at work and have come to live with them.
Attendance at EEG meetings is averaging (according to Billy’s statement) about 60 out of 230 members, i.e. 26%. At West Midland Dowsers we get between 30 and 60 out of about 160/170 members, i.e. from about 20% to 40%. In this context one has to allow for the fact that a goodly tranche of the membership cannot come to meetings anyway because of distance or other factors and this must also apply to the EEG. In both cases therefore, the realistic attendance is a higher proportion than would appear.
We did go through a period about a year ago when attendance began to fall below the 30 mark and I became very worried. The first person I blamed was myself. Was I failing to produce an interesting meeting programme? Were people getting fed up or dissatisfied? I sent out a questionnaire expressing my concern and asking for answers.
It was extremely heartening to find members jumping to my defence and saying it was not my fault. When the questionnaires were analysed, the critical factor emerged without the slightest doubt. It was that people have so many commitments on them that they find it hard to get to meetings all the time. Peoples’ lives are like Shakespeare’s Seven Ages of Man: at school you’re too young for dowsing; at college you’re too busy; when you start work it consumes your time and attention; when you marry and have kids, it’s even worse; when the kids grow up they produce grandchildren that you have to look after, and finally you get too old and decrepit to attend meetings!
You may have noticed how many organisations rely on an increasing number of grey heads to keep them going, either as “audience” or as active officers. Unfortunately many people do not want to commit to active service and are content to take what is offered. One of Billy’s greatest assets is his ability to get people to do things for the Group and even he has had difficulty at times. We find this situation in the BSD itself where it is increasingly difficult to get people to join the Council. The West Wales Dowsers Society Newsletter reports similar problems getting people to serve on the committee, there being only one nomination paper sent in from 120 plus sent out.
With regard to the slow-down in EEG membership, this is not unique to the EEG. We are emerging from a period when the awareness of dowsing in general has been growing rapidly. It has now subsided nationally and some of the gains are melting away for no fault of anyone. It is just a fact of existence and it applies to local groups as well as the EEG. The growth areas are where a new group is established in a geographical area previously badly served, or where a new special interest group is crystallising out a new membership.
So I believe that the EEG should not be downhearted or overconcerned about programme or numbers. Continue to give the members what the leaders of the group feel are the worthwhile topics and issues and I am sure the members will continue to respond. Most of all, do not lose the self-confidence which has been built up over the last few years.
Honorary Life Vice President BSD
28th September 2003