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Guidelines For Organising your Reunion

Janis Paterson has been organising a reunion for Wick High School and kindly offered to give Caithness.org the benefit of her experience to pass on to others thinking about doing one but not sure of what might be involved.  Janis is also offering to send you a copy of the database she devised for keeping the records in and easy to use system.  So if you were thinking about organising a reunion but did not know where to start then this is for you.

Guidelines to Organising a Reunion

 These guidelines are in a vague chronological order.  They are not intended as a definitive list, as stages taken will depend very much on whom the reunion is for and how scattered the group is.

 We have just reached stage 11 in our reunion organisation, so it is likely that the guidelines will be amended at a later date. 

 If you have experience of organising a reunion, please let us know of anything that you think should be included.

1.           Contact friends you know, to see if they would come and whether or not they think it is viable. 

2.           Decide on the target group. We chose our year, the year younger and the year older.  Wick High School were able to provide us with the names of people who were at school then.  Your task will be a lot easier in locating people, if you have a smaller group.

3.           Involve as many people as you can, you will need all the help and contacts you can get.  It is much better if these contacts are still living in the area, as they will have access to more people and probably see a large number of the target group on a daily basis.  It has been proved that it is possible to live in Australia and organise a reunion in Caithness, so donít let distance put you off.

4.           Put an advert in the local paper and on your local community web site to gauge interest.  You should get a good response and if you are lucky, some offers of help.

5.           Book a venue and chose a date early on.  You will need to calculate what to charge for tickets and the hotel manager can help you with these calculations.

6.           Once you have a date and venue, you can ask people to book their tickets.  It is never too early to do this.  This part of the exercise will depend very much on whether or not you have a lot of local organisers.  We sent letters to all potential participants, inviting them to attend.  We also printed business cards telling of the event.  These can be kept in a wallet and handed out to people you meet, so that they donít forget the details. 

7.            Keep a note of all the purchases you have to make, e.g. stamps, envelopes and advertising.  These costs can quickly mount up and will need to be reimbursed as part of the overall costs for the event.

8.            Ask bill@caithness.org  to set up a reunion page for you.  This can prove invaluable in the organisation of the event, by providing a quick and convenient way of updating people with information.  Along with using emails as the preferred method of contact, it also reduces the costs involved.  You will still need to use snail mail though.

9.           Keep a table of names, addresses and responses, otherwise you will be inundated with paper, which will be difficult to keep track of.  If you do not have access to a computer database or spreadsheet, it is still worthwhile creating a hand-written table containing all the relevant information.  For this reason, I personally think it is easier if one person co-ordinates things, with help from as many people as possible.  I created an Access database with all the information and used this to create mail merge letters in Word.  It is then possible to see at the click of a button, how many tickets have been booked.  If you would like a copy of a blank Access 2000 database for this purpose, please contact me on janis@paterson-seascale.freeserve.co.uk .

10.        If you donít have addresses for all the names on your list, include a request for names and addresses in all the letters you send out.  You will be amazed at the number of names that turn up in this way.

11.        Arrange for tickets to be printed.  Book a band if required.  Decide on the food you want.  It is important that 99% of the tickets are paid for at least five weeks before the event, otherwise you are going to spend half of the time at the reunion collecting money for tickets.  You will also need to confirm numbers with the hotel several weeks before the event.  If insufficient numbers want to book, then there is always time left to cancel.

12.        Keep your sense of humour and be prepared for quite a bit of work.  You will also need to ask for a lot of advice, be able to cajole, plead and beg. It will, however, be very rewarding and enjoyable, hearing from old friends whom you havenít seen for years.  Finally, you can let your hair down and enjoy yourself at the reunion and think that it has all been worthwhile.