Reply To: Scrapping Honorary Membership !

Forums General Discussion Scrapping Honorary Membership ! Reply To: Scrapping Honorary Membership !

Peter Anderson

I am following the debate with interest and I can see both sides. (I joined in 1969 and so am now four years into my honorary membership.) As an honorary member and being overseas I gladly contribute 21 pounds per annum to continue to have a paper copies of publications mailed to me – but these mailings are out of pocket expenses for the BAA and do not contribute to the general running expenses.
Many years ago members could purchase a life membership by an upfront payment but this was discontinued because it became simply a wager as to how long you would last.
My feelings on attaining my 50 years standing was one of achievement, rather like my 65 years involvement with local clubs, my near 50 years observing and timing lunar occultations, and when I finally built it, my 44 year old observatory. I am still active and contribute to two sections of the BAA, one of them intermittently since the late 60’s/early 70’s. Now age 81, I certainly agree that with some luck and good management, retired people have the money to easily afford the membership fee and much more, but that is not the point. It is simply the recognition. Even your motoring clubs like RAC (here anyway) give out gold memberships after 50 years. (You just have to live long enough!)
To sum up, I feel it would be reasonable to honour this class of 50 year plus members, and even reward their loyalty by a reduction in membership fee – I think half fee was suggested, and this should cover the obvious administration expenses – and I am happy to also pay any extra postage as I presently do. Clearly we must cut our cloth to fit the current circumstances and I believe that with the internet, the residual effects of the Covid pandemic, and the the ready availability of you tube and zoom meetings, we have largely lost the comradarie that we once had when we could only reasonably pursue our interests by joining a club, attending meetings to listen and make friends, and borrow books from their library.
Our local club, much like the BAA is shrinking and only half the size it was in the early space age, composed of an ageing membership (very few under 50 years old), with key individuals engaged in their own narrow fields of interest as I am. Having some mobility problems myself I have attended meetings by zoom only in recent years.
I can’t see that it will be getting any better. Same goes for the club instruments available for loan – no-one seems interested any more. Instant gratification by the internet is so quick and easy.
Even my wife of 56 years is not helping. When in a moment of candour (maybe being a bit pompous), I said to her that I would like to leave something behind in the field – she said ‘You mean like a cow?’ I was puzzled until she added “Well it leaves something behind in the field too.’
So I think we should rely on BAA council to come up with a solution to honour our long standing members but not have the shifting demographics place an unfair burden on the rest of the association. As for obtaining new and younger members might I suggest an earlier British tradition called ‘Press Ganging’?