The Beacon Club was formed in 1972, find out how it all came about here …
There’s no doubt about it, retirement is life-changing! For some men, filling in the weekdays can be a challenge, particularly for those living on their own. No longer the regular chat with colleagues and meetings with clients. For others it affords the opportunity to sort out the garden, catch up with the decorating, or pursue a favourite hobby.
After weeks of ‘freedom’ from work, once you get used to this dramatic change in lifestyle there is the opportunity to enjoy something different.
Forty years ago it was apparent that there was a the need for a club of some sort for retired men in the Hexham district. The Hexham Council of Churches became aware of this and called a meeting to discuss possibilities.
An initial meeting was held at Trinity Methodist Church, the outcome of which was to establish a club which would meet weekly to promote friendship and goodwill on an interdenominational and non-political basis where Guest speakers would be invited to talk on a variety of topics. This would provide the opportunity for questions and discussion. Wednesday was the preferred day and the Inaugural Meeting took place on 7th March 1972, this attracted an attendance of 14, and adopted the title Hexham Beacon Club.
There was an increase to 22 at the second meeting, numbers then grew rapidly. A charge of 5p per meeting was agreed at the outset, sufficient to cover the cost of a cup of coffee, a biscuit, and the room charge.
Since those early days, apart from the weekly charge having increased, the format has not changed. Meetings still start at 10:30 each Wednesday with a prayer, a meet every week except for a summer break in July and August. The Chairman for the day introduces the speaker who continues until the coffee break at about 11:15, assembling again at 11:30 until 12 noon.
Members are attracted from a wide area – North Tyne to Allendale and Weardale, and from Haldwhistle to Prudhoe. Weekly attendance is usually about 60 and has exceeded 100. Speakers come from a wide area and talk on a wide variety of subjects, some light-hearted and amusing, to the more serious – but not contentious.
There is no attendance rule and no annual subscription, some have been members for over 20 years and most attend regularly. There is naturally a strong local representation although there are many ore who have retired to the area and find it a friendly gathering. Ages range from the newly retired to teh occasional centenarian! A Birthday card is presented to the 80 year olds and to others on their 90’s birthdays, signed by all members.
The Beacon club is unique to Hexham, however there are a number of similar clubs in the Tyneside area and in Newcastle. Many of our speakers are themselves retired, and, on occasions, one of our members will contribute. One retired Professor has been a guest speaker for over 15 years, his talks are much enjoyed, he returns regularly each year and always draws a full attendance.
Members enjoy an annual outing in June each year, a Luncheon in late November, and our Christmas meeting, when we are joined by our ladies.
The foresight and initiative of the Hexham Council of Churches has clearly been a success – no 40+ years on, and still going strong.
The club is always keen to welcome new members – no introduction is necessary. You are invited to join us at Trinity at 10:20 any Wednesday and see for yourself?