It is 12yrs ago, that I took on the role of local organiser for Ecademy. Several small but disparate groups of networkers had been drifting without organisers for months, and so the first step was to amalgamate the groups. The very first group meet was held in Abingdon (and kudos to Simon who cycled all the way from Oxford). I said at the time, that I would bring a book with me and have a quiet drink if nobody turned up. (I’m pleased to say that there’s only once that I even opened the book – and that was because the comedians in the group decided to wait outside and play a trick on me!)
We immediately relocated to Oxford and the membership of this little group rapidly expanded. We tried a couple of venues in central Oxford but within a year or so migrated to the Victoria Arms in Old Marston – which was more convenient and much friendlier. We have seen three lots of landlords there in our time too!
Throughout, we have had an amazing range of participants, from all kinds of self-employed professions, through educators, top tier consultants, UN workers and representatives of other NGOs, and a number of mature students. Within the first three years, I estimated (quite carefully) that more than £250,000 of business had swapped hands within the group.
Barely a week goes by without someone asking about the meetings and saying that they will come along again soon, however, attendance has diminished of late. While there’s a core group of members, we seem to have a lot who never quite get around to coming along. Those that do tell me how much they value the group and the friendships that they have forged through it.
However, our worlds of work move on. In 12 years some of our original members have gone on to quite dizzy heights and moved away from the area. Quite a few have retired (and sadly one or two have passed away)! In that time, I have moved my practice out of London, built a new career in teaching in HE, and launched a research strand in photography. I know that I am not the only one to have made big changes.
Having taken soundings of various people, I have reluctantly decided that the 144th Drink – yes, our 12th Anniversary – is time to call an end.
So, why not join us for the very last drink this Monday? It will be a chance to celebrate the great group of people who have made one evening each month stimulating, diverse, and informative. A quick reminder of the details:
DATE: Monday 2nd March 2020
VENUE: Victoria Arms, Old Marston, Oxford, OX3 0QA