I have been a member of CNW for some years now and had always appreciated what is offered at such a reasonable membership rate. When I heard that CNW wanted to find a new home for their evening meetings something inside of me said ‘I can do that’ and    before I knew it I was saying it out loud to Tony….. not one of my most thought through moments but I set off with the motivation of ‘pay back’ time and a great deal of  enthusiasm.  This turned out to be a bigger job than even my ‘wait a minute and think  before you speak’ part of my brain could have guessed.

At my first committee meeting we discussed the venue requirements and I set off once again with great enthusiasm. However, once I started looking at and then speaking with some seemingly suitable venues I started to realise that we weren’t a particularly attractive option for them. Calls went a little like this “I’m looking for a venue we could use one   evening per month for 10 months of the year…..well no, it wouldn’t be the same night each month we want to spread the meetings across Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday…… yes, I realise that’s a little unconventional…. no, were not looking for food and we’d like to keep refreshments low cost so may need to bring our own….. sorry, no I can’t give you a full dates list for next year as yet but would be able to do that soon…. oh, you have slimming club in every Tuesday so that’s out……. ah, I see there’s a committee meeting every third Wednesday of the month and sometimes one in between so you can’t really sort    Wednesday’s out easily…… oh & on Thursday’s there’s a monthly quiz and a monthly ladies meeting so that might be a bit difficult too….. okay, thank you.”  Despite the difficulties I did start coming up with a few possible venues.

I returned to the committee with findings so far and asked about our membership spread across the region as I felt this may help determine where to focus our attention. Pat (CNW membership secretary) did a great job of plotting our membership on a map which quickly showed that were very wide spread across the region, as are the members of the committee, which is great but didn’t make the job any easier.

This job was getting bigger and more time consuming than I could have imagined but I was determined to keep going and make sure that I was approaching this the best way I could for our  members. I continued to plough through venues I’d found and ones submitted by members which were extremely helpful. In order to make sense of the work so far I      devised a spreadsheet with one page containing a list of all venues considered so far and any notes to help me keep track, the other was a table of potentially suitable venues with scoring system across 7 categories to help analyse each venue fairly, remove bias and to present to the committee to help make a group decision.

I’d like to say a big thank you to our members who kept providing venue suggestions which were all considered. The venue we are now trialling at Bury, Development &     Training Centre, is one sent in by one of our members. Despite my initial impression on driving up to the venue, once inside I was extremely impressed and it came up top marks in all categories. They have enough rooms to accommodate us on the different nights even when they have others booked in. There’s plenty of parking, all access issues in place and all the equipment needed so might even save us money on technology in the long run. We tested the venue over two committee meetings and despite the location spread of the committee and concerns about the long-term M60 road works we all got there in good time. There are also two exits you can use off the M66 to avoid local events and the venue is potentially able accommodate our future needs as well – workshops & committee meetings.

Please do keep your suggestions coming in as this is a continuing project and I am still looking although with much less vigour at the moment as this has taken up a lot of time and energy and more importantly we are now trialling the new venue for 12 months.

As I end this overview I have to admit that whilst I felt I appreciated our CNW Committee, who all give their time freely, I had no idea of how much continual hard work and effort they put in to keep CNW going and now appreciate them all, current and past, even more and I am very proud to be involved.