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Social Committee

From 1890 for almost sixty years the Club survived on modest subscriptions and the extreme generosity of older members. After the Second World War, many more old boys came to play Rugby and this brought increased costs. In March 1949 the Rugby Club formed a Social Committee under the chairmanship of Barrie Dudgeon and invited representatives from the Ladies Hockey Club to join. The role of this body was to organise functions outside sport and to make a financial contribution.

The first meeting was held on April 12 in the home of Mr. & Mrs. Fred Jones. Right from the start this committee was well structured by Barrie Dudgeon ably assisted by Ewart Bell with monthly meetings, properly minuted. Sadly the committee minute books after 1952 are missingIn the years from 1949 up to and into the sixties the contribution from the functions run by the Social Committee was the main support of the club. It is recognised that while many assisted in the various efforts to raise money the lynchpin of the committee after the sad and early death of Barrie Dudgeon in 1953 was undoubtedly Matt Gibson who took over as treasurer from Ewart Bell. He continued into the seventies while Wilson Hanna was secretary until 1969

Every avenue was explored to raise funds. Nothing was too trivial. Punchboards, guest teas, car treasure hunts, club concerts, ballots, seasonal dances, barbecues, whist drives, beetle drives etc. With the support of the Headmaster the Club was permitted to run dances at the College but more importantly it was allowed to run a bazaar every three or so years.  The bazaars were successful because the Headmaster recognised the future benefits and encouraged the staff and pupils to participate actively.

Fullerton and Downey had dedicated stalls. The first bazaar in 1949 was managed by Jack Siggins and Ossie Glasgow but there are no notes about this bazaar other than the account under the hand of E.J. McKelvey stating that it was for the Ground Improvement Scheme. This bazaar was not under the umbrella of the Social Committee but 1952, 1955, 1958, 1962, 1965 and 1969 bazaars were, with Wilson Hanna as secretary. Further bazaars have been organised but we seek more details.

Throughout these years the club stalwarts kept recurring. Brownrigg, Bell, Gibson, Grimshaw, Hanna, Jones, Lewis, Lowry, McClelland, Robinson, Smiley, Smyth et alia. Worthy of note are two other activities.First off, early in the sixties the club, represented by Brian Hill, Dave Parker and George Ferrett, collaborated with CIYMS and MALONE to organise Saturday evening dances in the city centre under the umbrella of MCC.  These were extremely successful with very worthwhile contributions to each club.

 Later, a new venture inspired and encouraged by Ida and Cal Teuton with the input of the then President George Ferrett - Art Exhibitions. In his wisdom George enlisted Eileen Bell who took over and dramatically organised an outstanding week long presentation. By invitation local artists submitted paintings for sale to the general public.

We now had the new C.S. Neill Pavilion in which to display them. The club and a local charity benefited hugely. This has become a regular event and is so successful it still continues at Belfast Harlequins. 

In the fifties Matt Gibson and Joe Kingsmore tried to run regular Whist Drives. As a card game these could not be held in the College and we needed to find locations which cost little or nothing. The new pavilion meant that whist could now be played every Wednesday. Masterminded by the entrepreneurial Joe Kingsmore we changed to Duplicate Bridge during the early years of the Troubles.1974 to be exact. He handed the weekly running to Wesley Gilbert who continued at Deramore Park under the Belfast Harlequins umbrella. 

With the advent of a bar at Deramore the role of the Social Committee was overtaken.

 

Ladies Committee.

The Social Committee had no input into the marvellous work undertaken by our Ladies but due tribute must be paid to them. No amateur club survived without the support of mothers, wives and girl friends.
We were very fortunate to have such a vigorous band at Collegians. 
With the new pavilion we had a proper function room and our Ladies supplied food for teams every weekend after matches as well as producing club teas and catering for many other special events. 
It would be impossible to try to name these ladies. There were so many. It would be too easy to omit one. There were stalwarts but faces quietly changed over the years. Everyone who played at Deramore will have fond memories of those meals. 

Links

IRFU www.irishrugby.ie
Ulster Branch www.ulsterrugby.com
Methodist College Belfast www.methody.org
Harlequins RFC www.belfastharlequinsrfc.com

Collegians Club
Formerly - Deramore Park,
Belfast,
County Antrim, Northern Ireland

E: philipjordan@meridiansystems.co.uk

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