We spoke to GTO Keith Jordan, who formed the Lincoln Retirees Group in 2020 to offer people a way of getting back out there following the pandemic.

Tell us about your experience of organising group trips

The first group trip I ever organised was when I was about 18 - we went to Amsterdam, and I also took 56 people to Riccione in Italy. I’ve been organising in some way for years, including looking after a running club and a football team, so it’s in my blood, basically. I can’t get rid of it!

Keith Jordan, organiser for the Lincoln Retirees Group

Keith’s group at a glance…

Group name: Lincoln Retirees Group
No. of members: 250
Time organising: 50+ years
Based: Coleby, Lincolnshire

How did the Lincoln Retirees Group come about?

I worked at British Gas for many years where I used to organise trips for the company, so when I retired, I had some idea about what retirees were looking for and what they might want. The idea of the group was to tempt people back out again after Covid lockdowns as it was very difficult to get people out, not only to our meetings every month, but also on coach trips as they were very wary about sitting on a coach with other people at that time. We initially kept numbers down on our outings but gradually, people began to realise how much they needed this outlet and to make the best of life.

Lincoln Retirees Group

Keith formed the group to get people back out socialising after the pandemic.

What have you got coming up?

We recently headed out on a paddle steamer ship on the River Trent for afternoon tea in Nottingham and I’ve booked a five-day holiday to London which includes a trip to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew on one day, a visit to Windsor on another and we’ll also be spending time in Greenwich. We’ve booked a visit to Leicester, where some of the group will be heading on the Great Central Railway while others visit the Kind Richard III Visitor Centre. There’s also a Christmas shopping trip to Meadowhall in Sheffield on the cards in November and a Leeds panto trip in December to see Robin Hood: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto.

“You need to be a people person. I love people and I always like to make a fuss.”

Can you think of your most memorable trip?

I love going to Chatsworth in Derbyshire. I’ve been there many times, particularly at Christmas, but I remember one time sending a letter to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire to ask them if they would meet us off the coach and they did just that and gave us all a lovely welcome. I’m a great believer in if you don’t ask for something, you don’t get it. They were absolutely lovely and it was a really special experience. We also did Sandringham Estate in Norfolk this year which the whole group loved.

What important things have you learned in your time as an organiser so far?

You don’t want to be sat on a coach for more than two hours there and back for a day trip because that’s four hours out of your day and not a lot of time left for anything else. Boat trips are always well received and that there’s so much to do in this country! Most of the people that I take on visits have been abroad and all over the world, but there’s a lot of places in this country that they haven’t been too, so we’re always looking for something different.

Chatsworth House

Source: Chatsworth House Trust.

Chatsworth House stands out as one of Keith’s most memorable trips.

Are there any skills that a good group organiser needs?

You need to be a people person. I love people and I always like to make a fuss, especially when they get on and off the coach. I’m always at the door to give everyone a big hug and a kiss. It’s about having that personality to get on with people, so it builds trust and makes people feel at ease. You’ve got to be charismatic and prepared to listen.

Do you think your group members would say any of that about you?

I hope so! I think they would describe me as a lovable character – I’m certainly a character and I don’t think there are many left in this world any more.

Tenby, Wales

Keith is hoping to take the group to Tenby soon.

What would you say is the best part about your role?

Seeing people getting off the coach at the end of a trip and coming up to me to tell me they’ve had a wonderful day. It means the world to me and really makes the visit worthwhile if people have enjoyed themselves. These visits aren’t always cheap, and people haven’t got the money to waste so it’s always pleasing when their money has been well-spent.

Is there anywhere you would like to visit soon?

I really want to go to Tenby in Wales so I’m looking at holidays there for next year.

Would you like to tell us about your work as a group organiser? Get in touch by emailing editorial@groupleisureandtravel.com.