We caught up with Mike Beaveridge, organiser for the Southend branch of the National Association of Retired Police Officers, about what’s coming up and some of the challenges he faces.

Southend branch of the National Association of Retired Police Officers on the coach going to a theatre performance.

The National Association of Retired Police Officers group en route to one of the many theatre trips they do every year.

How did you become a group travel organiser?

In 2001, the group’s secretary retired so someone else took on the role to get the group more organised. I heard about the group and said if there was anything I could do to help, I would. That’s what I’ve been doing ever since. I still enjoy it very much. It’s nice to be able to go out on trips with people who you worked with over many years. I’m still in touch with people who I worked with in 1966, it keeps everyone together socially. NARPO has branches across the country whose priority is the welfare of retired police officers.

Mike Beaveridge, National Association of Retired Police Officers

Mike’s group at a glance…

Group name: National Association of Retired Police Officers (NARPO)
No. of members: 300+
Time organising: 22 years
Based: Southend

What type of age ranges have you got in the group?

To put it into perspective, we’ve got a lot of new members who joined the police service after I left! We’ve got people in their 50s all the way to those in their 90s which is really great, but when you organise anything you have to make sure it fits a range of physical abilities.

Do you find it difficult to book trips which cater for a range of ages and abilities?

No not really, it’s just about finding something that will have an appeal to both older and younger members and something that everybody is going to get the benefit of doing. For example, when I’m looking at booking it holiday - while it’s nice to factor in time in a town centre where folks can walk around for a couple of hours, we don’t want to just drop people off who aren’t as mobile. So for these trips we’ll make sure there are places that they can sit and take in a view or enjoy a local café. If you also talk to attractions well in advance, you find that they are very helpful and are keen to provide a service.

Sudeley Castle exterior near Cheltenham in Gloucestershire

Mike is looking forward to taking the group to Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire.

What have you got coming up?

We have a Cheltenham Chase holiday where we have something booked for every day including a chartered boat trip on the River Severn, a visit to Sudeley Castle and a heritage steam train ride through the Forest of Dean. We try to do it in an affordable way so the only thing people have to put their hands in their pockets for is drinks and lunch, but we even include that sometimes.

“It’s nice to be able to go out on trips with people who you worked with over many years.”

We’ve also arranged a Royal Day Out to visit Buckingham Palace on 24th August with it being the Coronation year. The trip includes The Queen’s Gallery and The Royal Mews, and we’ll also be going to Thursford Christmas Spectacular on 15th December.

What would you say is the best type of visit for your group?

River trips are always popular and do well, especially on the Thames as there are so many different places and suppliers along the river. We usually do between four and six hours on the river and organise at least one meal on board – perhaps a BBQ for lunch and maybe an Afternoon Tea later on. It’s just a nice leisurely day.

Mike Beaveridge, National Association of Retired Police Officers

A distinguished career

Mike had a vast range of jobs across his 33-year career, such as “walking the beat” when he first became an officer, before working his way up to enjoy 18 months as chief inspector of what was known as Southend Borough Police Force.

He also spent around five years in the press office working with the media and organising interviews among other tasks. He said: “It’s a wonderful job that you get so much out of and it shapes you for life.” 

Are you facing any challenges as a GTO at the moment?

One big issue we have is travelling into London because of the impact that the Low Emission Zone has had since being put in place. It has effectively upped the price of coach hire by at least £100 a trip, because quite simply, most coach companies cannot afford to buy compliant vehicles. This means they’ll be driving into London knowing they’re going to get a fine because it’s cheaper than buying a new coach, so it’s something which needs looking at.

Southend branch of the National Association of Retired Police Officers

Mike says it’s the social side of the group which he loves most.

London theatre ticket prices have also risen for groups, and when you add in the cost of coaches, you’re looking at around £75 for an evening out which used to cost around £45, but I look at ways I can to reduce this price. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra are very good with groups and prices – if I take a group of 30 or more, I get a good discount and they are brilliant to work with.

What’s the best thing about your role?

I love getting on a coach and seeing somebody walk on who I haven’t seen for a while. There’s always a smile and the odd remark about ‘fancy seeing you here, I haven’t seen you for years’. It’s great to be able to stay in touch and experience new things together.

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