Friday, November 27, 2015

FOCUS ON: Southern Chapter

We are delighted to feature another of our Chapters on the blog today. Liv Thomas undertook to answer our questions and fill us in on this group whose members are pretty widespread so it’s wonderful that they make so much effort to meet on a regular basis.

How long has your chapter been running?
We’ve been around since 1999 when chapters were started by the then chairman, Angela Arney. The idea took hold fairly rapidly with volunteers from all over the UK. I believe the first was the Flying Ducks, northern writers who couldn’t often get down to London.

Do you have a schedule or are your meetings ad hoc?
We meet quarterly, mostly on a Monday as this seems to be the most convenient day, though we’re obviously flexible. It’s virtually impossible to accommodate everyone, but it would be nice to get a full house one day.

The Vestry
Where do you meet?
Our meetings are usually in Southampton at the Vestry Restaurant near the central station. areas, This has been settled upon because a lot of our members come from other areas, e.g. Sussex, Dorset, Wiltshire, so is convenient for those who come by train. The Vestry is a converted church, complete with stained glass windows – quite disconcerting to see them alongside a huge wine rack.

It looks absolutely fabulous. How many members attend?
Between ten and twenty. We have one male member who is a regular attender, and who handles all the enquiries. And who is also our regular Santa at the Christmas lunch!

Speaking of lunch, and harking back to the above-mentioned huge wine rack, do your meetings include a meal?
Oh yes! Most of us go with the two course option and there’s quite an extensive range so we are well catered for. We always have a raffle to raise funds for the group.

This all sounds very much in the ‘spirit’ of the RNA. Is your chapter open to non-members?
Yes, all are welcome. Our meetings last for about two hours and we have been lucky during the past year to have Della Galton, Jean Fullerton and Janet Gover as our guests.

Inside The Vestry
It’s fast approaching the end of the year. Do you have anything else planned for 2015?
Our final meeting of the year will be our Christmas lunch. We don’t invite a speaker to this event but we do have a Secret Santa.

What would you say makes your chapter so special?
As I’ve already said, it’s open to everyone. Some are wannabe writers who later join, other write different genres. Plus we have a wide age range and a mix of experience. This all provides fertile ground for discussion.

Does your chapter have a website, Facebook page or Twitter Account?
No, but this is probably worth considering. I try to issue a newsletter every quarter with members’ news and promos.

Who is the contact for new members?
Steve Mogg –

After looking at the images of your wonderful venue, you may find that several of us descend on you in the future to join you for lunch. Thank you, Liv, for giving us an insight into the Southern Chapter.

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Isabella Connor said...

Thanks, Elaine - and thanks to Angela Arney who actually supplied most of the answers for me, as I'm something of a newbie.

Elaine Everest said...

Thank you members of the Southern Chapter and Natalie Kleinman for writing the piece - in fact the whole series. If a member belongs to an RNA Chapter and hasn't yet been interviewed please contact us as Natalie would love to chat to you.

Natalie Kleinman said...

It's been a delight interviewing Chapter members and running a series that features the very different groups that make up the whole. We may meet frequently or less often, we may have speakers or workshops. The one thing that binds us together is that we're all writers and all belong to the RNA. If your Chapter hasn't taken part and you would like the rest of us to see how you 'work', please contact me on

Charlie Cochrane said...

I have made such good friends through this chapter, and learned so many things. Had more than a few laughs along the way.