Budleigh on the Mat
        by Mary Goodheart

     At the end of the1999 season the Budleigh Salterton club started planning its programme for the following season. As usual discussion took place on how to interest new members to join and start playing croquet. We had read the account of the use of the CAs indoor mat, which could be borrowed free of charge, but concluded that the cost of hiring somewhere in the town, and the transport costs, would make quite a hole in our budget. However, one of the committee thought he could make it pay its way, and it would be a good opportunity to get to the heart of the local community, as we realised only too well that many people, even those who had lived in the town for many years, had not discovered our rather tucked away club.

     The committee member was Roger Bowen, and he set about finding out what the costs would be and seeking grants. His efforts resulted in a small local grant, and the club agreed to foot the remaining costs in the hope that even a small success would result in subscriptions which would cover the cost. To widen our catchment area he decided to include Exmouth, whose croquet club had sadly folded in recent years.

     Roger enlisted the help of Peter Jones to help with the publicity, which included fliers in local newspapers. Peter had managed to get himself on the radio and mentioned the demonstrations. The Public Hall in Budleigh Salterton and the hall of the Methodist Church in Exmouth were booked for two days each, and teams of members volunteered to be in attendance to welcome visitors and demonstrate.

     The mat duly arrived and was housed in the club until D-Day. Fortunately the three sections of the mat rolled up to a size which Roger could accommodate in his estate car, and on the due day it was taken to Exmouth, set up, and a notice put prominently outside. Everyone waited expectantly would anyone come in? Yes they did. Not in their hundreds, but those who came expressed great interest. All were invited to a coffee morning to see the facilities at the club, and many came. This was all repeated in Budleigh Salterton, where, being on home territory and with the greater publicity we had achieved, we were rewarded with increased numbers. We met the same degree of interest, with many signing up for the coffee morning, so we felt it was all worthwhile.

     Coffee morning day arrived, and over 100 turned up and were warmly welcomed to the club. In the end a large number signed up for the coaching course, and over 40 of those eventually became members and have since become a welcome and enthusiastic part of Budleigh Salterton Croquet Club.

     Will we do it again? Yes, certainly.

On page 12 of the November Croquet Gazette Roger Bowen described the successful venture and mentioned that with publicity the total cost was £480, more than covered by an astonishing 40% increase in club membership! Well done to Budleigh. Ed