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Royal Air Force Club

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Royal Air Force Club

Old 23rd Nov 2009, 14:09
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RAF Club

Hoo hum,

Just emailled the RAF Club and resigned my membership WEF 31st Dec.

Feel a bit sad, one of my last ongoing connections with the RAF, but to honest I think I only ever used once in the 25 years I was in and not at in the 10 since I left (god, is it that long ago...).

In the circumstances I couldn't really justify the cost. If I added up what I have paid over the years I could have hired a suite at the Inn on the Park.

It was always said when I was in, mostly cynically, that the subs of the serving officers kept the MOD senior staff and defence contractors in the standard to which they had become accustomed. Whenever I did try and book a room for a few days in London it was invariably full.

At least for me, no more.
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Old 23rd Nov 2009, 14:45
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Well done old boy!!

I resigned last year when I got fed up paying to use the facilities once a year and subsidising those who get to use it every day!

Plenty of other hotels and clubs where you can get your head down after a reunion for less than you pay for membership of the RAF Club!!
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Old 23rd Nov 2009, 15:53
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In the last 3 years of semi-regular overnights in London the HBC has only once managed to find me a room in the club - the rest of the time it was full or the remaining rooms were over the cap rate.

I do fear for the future of the club; what will happen to it when the current generation of, ahem, bed-blockers, dies out? Surely they should be laying the foundations now by having a number of rooms set aside for overnight stays by serving officers? If not, many of my generation will forego its' charms and seek cheaper accommodation elsewhere. Plus, the generation that currently dominate proceedings come from a time when the RAF was 4 or 5 times bigger than it is now (or will be). I'm afraid that the numbers for the club just don't add up...a black hole in membership revenue is coming and they must modernise and adapt to survive it.
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Old 23rd Nov 2009, 17:33
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I do fear for the future of the club
Which is why I guess they have opened up membership to family members (i.e this can go both directions in the generational chain!) of which I believe there are 500 already elected.


C) Family Membership: The Board of Trustees is empowered to elect as Family Members sons and daughters over 18 years of age, who should be proposed by a parent or legal guardian (who should be a Full Member of the Club of at least 2 years standing) and seconded by another Full Member of the Club of at least 2 years standing who is not a relative. The Board of Trustees is also empowered to elect as Family Members parents or legal guardians who should be proposed by the son or daughter (who should be a Full Member of the Club of at least 2 years standing) and seconded by another Full Member of at least 2 years standing of the Club who is not a relative.
as well as a vastly reduced membership fee, if you join immediatly on completing IOT, for the first 5 years of service.

The Club still boasts a 90%+ occupancy rate and seem to be looking to the future with new membership regulations. I suspect, however, there will soon be more never-served members than there will be serving/veterans.

Last edited by Wrathmonk; 24th Nov 2009 at 10:00.
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Old 23rd Nov 2009, 17:53
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It seems that the hotel booking service can't get the rooms that you can get by phoning yourself on most occasions...

Where is the added value from CHBS (or whoever they are)......
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Old 24th Nov 2009, 07:01
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I stayed there very recently with my wife and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I must admit I haven't used it enough, but intend to make more use of such a great facility.

I think they've had a change of policy to get more serving officers in; discounts after detachments etc..
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Old 24th Nov 2009, 07:14
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It's a fantastic facility, and I'm astonished that people don't make more use of it.

Had my family member not inconsiderately terminated their membership in the most final way possible, I'd have been applying.... I had the form and everything!
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Old 24th Nov 2009, 08:39
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ORAC
As you're not bothered about severing one of your 'last ongoing connections' with your former career, and have used the club only once in 35 years, then your decision is probably sensible for you.

I found myself going to the club regularly as a guest and, when I found out that I was eligible (ex-UAS) to join as an Affiliate Member, I did so. Conscience as much as anything, as Iíd enjoyed the club so often as a guest.

Iíve never stayed but understand the 82 rooms are allocated in order of booking. There are busy periods, but Iíve known friends get in at very short notice. eg After a good evening when theyíve decided against trying to get home.
The rates arenít unreasonable given the location and quality. Tariffs

Wrathmonk
Things may change (who knows?) but, at present, serving/veterans far outnumber never-served members. I always go to the club with serving/veteran members and, without exception, theyíve bumped into lots of people with whom they are serving or have served. Usually in the pub in the basement.

Farfrompuken is right. Room rates are discounted 50% for Serving Members who've been in theatre.

Given the prime location in the heart of the West End, the magnificent building and the excellent facilities, the annual sub is very low. (Much less than comparable clubs in London.)
Serving: Half of one day's pay plus VAT based on the first level for each rank.
Former Serving/Foreign Serving/Affiliate Members: £124.00 incl VAT.
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Old 24th Nov 2009, 09:57
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RAF Club - Best Day's Pay Ever Spent

I joined the RAF Club in the great recruiting drive of 1967/68 and continued my membership when leaving regular service and can now take my choice of the senior citizens rate or the RAFVR membership rate!!

The club is well managed and is a place that non-RAF people appreciate for its style and ambiance. The bars are could for casual meetings up and the dining room a place for a special meal. I have never had trouble booking and getting a room but have not tried at very short notice. I never tried using the HBS but did it myself - I suspect the club might not understand the status of the HBS in the service scheme of things.

The club has to open its doors to a wider clientele if it is survive the problems of reduced service membership, rising costs and regulation. I have never found the 'outsiders' who use the club abusing the traditions of the place and most feel it a privilage to be able to have a function which is a cut above the average.

Yes, there are cheaper, more modern places but joining the club was one of the better decisions I made - particularly as I was in Hong Kong at the time - but my other haunt: The Brevet Flying Club in Shepherds Market subsequently closed its doors for good.
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Old 24th Nov 2009, 09:59
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Flying Lawyer

You are right for the present but I think the club may be forced to 'change with the times' to entice in the new breed and retain those who have recently retired. They've gone in the right direction in some ways (relaxing dress rules at weekends for one) I just hope they don't go so far down the 'family membership' route that the 'ethos' of the club is lost and it becomes just 'another club in London'.

Jacko

Weren't you ex-UAS? If so can't you join in your own right? From the Club site

... and all past members of the UAS should be eligible for affiliate membership in recognition of the UAS support of the Royal Air Force.

(Affiliate Membership is open to those who have filled or are filling appropriate appointments with RAF connections. The Trustees will therefore be looking for individuals with sustained, significant and active involvement, either in current appointment/s or previously. In order to broaden this category of membership, the rule also allows the election of candidates who have been or are actively contributing to promoting the interests of the RAF; again continuing interest and personal involvement in some aspect of the RAF family including, for example, philanthropic activities, work for RAF related charities, sponsorship - this list is by no means exhaustive)
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Old 24th Nov 2009, 10:32
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I was, and I had no idea that such membership existed. My Dad had started the wheels in motion for family membership....

I'm delighted and will look into it. Many thanks.
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Old 24th Nov 2009, 10:39
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As a serving officer I'm surprised by some of these posts. Personally I've found the club useful and helpful and have stayed there on many occasions. Once at very short notice, late at night after a concert in Hyde Park.... Although I did receive some strange looks.

A quick email the day before along the lines of '...I know it's a long shot but what are the chances...' has yielded the goods more than once.

In my view the key to success is to not be put off easily and have a bit off old fashioned tenacity as it's often worth it.

Finally and contrary to the more cynical, of course the ratio of serving to non serving is going to be disproportionate, the place would be unsustainable otherwise.

My one criticism is that I have yet to see a painting of a any form of rotary asset in there!!! I know it is (sorry was) a fast jet RAF but lets sort that one out.
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Old 24th Nov 2009, 10:46
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Best day's pay ever spent

Agree strongly with you, O-D - except that it's only HALF a day's pay for those still serving! An even bigger bargain.

Although it's easy to criticise any establishment, I do suggest that those contributors to this thread who don't take O-D's attitude to the Club are perhaps being rather unfair. The Club is physically constrained by the building's dimensions as to how it can increase its facilities. However, the latest Newsletter says that redundant staff accommodation on the 5th floor is being converted into 10 double/twin bedrooms (planned for opening in Spring 2010) precisely because of the high demand for rooms from members.

Booking as far in advance as you can is always advisable if you want to stay in the Club. When the Club is full, the reservation staff will normally suggest possible accommodation with neighbouring Clubs such as the Cavalry and Guards (literally next door!) or the Caledonian, just a little farther away. You can also ask to be put on a wait list, which I've found does work.

The Trustees and Management of the Club seem to be doing everything they can to encourage serving officers to use the Club, and I'm sure they are also conscious of the long-term threat to the Club which is posed by the steadily reducing number of serving officers. The push to increase the number of Affiliated members and the introduction of Family membership are just two aspects of the way in which that long-term threat is being fought.

The rigid dress code of the past hasn't been relaxed just at weekends. It applies at breakfast throughout the week, and in the Running Horse pub in the basement at all times.

My own non-RAF friends are always hugely impressed when they first visit the Club. For its location, facilities and ambiance it is unrivalled in London. As for the cost, I can only suggest that anyone who thinks it is expensive should enquire as to the cost of joining the RAC Club, or any of the other well-known London clubs. They will then realise what an incredible bargain we have in the RAF Club!

Yes, the dear, departed Brevet Flying Club was also a great place of refuge in the days when the RAF Club was nothing but a stuffy old farts' zone. Happily, the RAF Club has since changed immeasurably for the better.
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Old 24th Nov 2009, 10:51
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RAF Club - Best Day's Pay Ever Spent
Concur with all that you say. A member since 1966, I now use the Club 2/3 times per year and thoroughly enjoy its ambience, historical connections and value for money. Hardly a visit goes by without bumping into some old mates not seen for years.

newt

I resigned last year when I got fed up paying to use the facilities once a year and subsidising those who get to use it every day!

Plenty of other hotels and clubs where you can get your head down after a reunion for less than you pay for membership of the RAF Club!!
If using the facilities once a year is by choice, then it seems a tad unreasonable to suggest that you're subsidising those that use it regularly. And as for getting your head down after a re-union; age must be wearying you. The Club is ideal for doing no such thing. Foldy, PE and others ensure that after our re-unions, getting our heads down in the Club takes place long after the official re-union has wound up - retirement to the Cowdray for far too long, followed (not long after) by an excellent breakfast in the dining room. BTW, you appear to be in resignation mode these days - no Blitz?

As for room availability and difficulty booking - hardly surprising given the numerical ratio of members to rooms. Book early, and be prepared to be disappointed if you cannot.

From what I gather elsewhere, the Club is in good order financially, and will hopefully provide me with many more hangovers and both chance and planned meetings with those old mates for years - in 'familiar' surroundings.

PS: For those in the know, I'll be supplying Black Grouse in the CB -----

Last edited by jindabyne; 24th Nov 2009 at 11:06.
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Old 24th Nov 2009, 11:03
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Although the new room booking system works pretty well, I find it frustrating that you cannot see an 'availability' overview before filling out all the data fields. If I knew that there were no rooms at the inn on a particular date beforehand, then I'd know not to bother tapping away.

I agree - it's an excellent facility and the breakfasts in particular are historic hang-over cures!

Does the sport of 'Donaldson baiting' still take place?
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Old 24th Nov 2009, 11:45
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Oh Jindabyne,

On my case again!!

How can it be unreasonable to decide not to subsidise those who get to use the club every day?

And as for the Blitz, it is not my scene any more! Why pay to have people be rude to me when they can do it at home for free!!

Enjoy yourself and hope you booked early enough to get a room!!

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Old 24th Nov 2009, 12:02
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I stayed there a few weeeks ago and had no trouble getting a room. The standard of accommodation easily beats 4* London hotels I have stayed at and the location is hard to beat. More importantly, the club is 1/2 the price, much better presented and there wasn't a pikey in sight!
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Old 24th Nov 2009, 12:53
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How can it be unreasonable to decide not to subsidise those who get to use the club every day?
Choice, as I said.

Why pay to have people be rude to me when they can do it at home for free!!
Because we enjoy it.

Merry Cringe
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Old 24th Nov 2009, 14:47
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There is an interesting move about the Club's potential to dissolve itself due to members having no say in its management under the new 'Company's guidelines' - (or similar legislation).

See the members thread on the Clubs Website for the debate.
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Old 24th Nov 2009, 17:07
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Like one or two others who have posted on this topic, I joined as a result of the membership 'push' in the late 60s. Unlike Newt, who, if I recognise his pseudonym, has always been a bit off the wall, I have never viewed my annual sub as being a subsidy for someone unlucky enough to be in London on an almost daily basis. In my experience the Club has moved with the times in the last 40 years and continues to do so. It is a great place to hold reunions, to repair to after a good reunion or to hold any sort of party. But those of you who no longer wish to pay your dues - and they probably represent better value for money than the monthly mess subs I used to have to pay - should just quit quietly and gracefully and stop being such curmudgeons!
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