Sue Poole talks about the challenges of running two groups, in different counties, and the satisfaction she gets from organising trips.
Congratulations again on being a finalist in the GTO of the Year Award 2017, what was it like?
It was very interesting and good to be a part of the Group Leisure & Travel Awards. The awards evening itself at the Metropole in Birmingham was lovely; we really enjoyed it and loved staying over. I’m very pleased that Marian Durbidge won the award.
It sounds like 2017 was a busy year for you, tell us about some of the trips you organised.
With my Buckinghamshire group we did 11 trips and then I organised 14 with my Gloucester group. We’ve been all over, from theatre trips to National Trust houses and other tours and holidays.
What kind of trips are proving the most popular with your groups?
River cruises remain very popular, I’m looking at organising a trip for 2019. But even adding in a cruise on day trips goes down very well, even if it’s just a short boat ride. It helps to sell them to members and is a really nice thing to do. I increased the number of trips last year and have a few more planned this year.
Our trip to the Longleat Festival of Light also worked very well in 2017; it’s a great place for groups. Because it was in the winter I didn’t think I’d get so many people but it sold out, I’ll be running a trip there for my Buckinghamshire group this year.
It must be challenging, but also helpful, to have the two groups and plan the same trip for both?
Yes, very often I can plan the same trip but it depends where it is. Gloucestershire and Buckinghamshire are two different areas of the country so if a trip works travel-wise I can do it but sometimes it’s too far.
How much of your time does running the two groups take up?
A lot, I’m looking at things just about every day. Some days I’ll spend several hours organising and others not so much. For example I have been finalising all my itineraries for the year which takes up a lot of time but then it’s also quite flexible.
Tell us how you became a GTO.
I was involved with my local sports group in High Wycombe and helped with organising. I became chairman and when I finished there I decided to do my own thing. I had some experience which was very valuable. I started with the group in Buckinghamshire and when I moved to Gloucestershire I started the group here. It was a great way to get to know people.
You must get a lot out of it to dedicate so much time?
Yes I do; I love it when people tell you how much they have enjoyed a certain trip. It’s very rewarding when you welcome everybody on the coach, for example, and see their expectant faces. I often think, if I hadn’t have arranged it they wouldn’t be doing it. People have a good time and you can tell from the remarks afterwards; friendships are made. I’ve organised a few trips involving both groups which is great because they all get on really well and you can see they’ve made friends.
What, for you, makes a successful trip?
You obviously have to plan it properly otherwise it will fall apart. I spend a lot of time planning and checking the timings, the coach details; the weather helps too. I always try to plan trips to places that offer something indoors, as well as outside, just in case it’s pouring with rain. Even on river cruises, it can suit all weathers.
Where’s your favourite place?
I love Austria, we went there last year. I’d also love to take my group to India. I went there myself and it’s my all-time favourite but it’s a possibility for some time in the future. We went to Liverpool in 2017 and that was great. We had lovely weather and we got about a lot, it was really enjoyable.
Tell us about the trips you have planned this year?
We’ve got 42nd Street the musical in June which should be great. I’m also doing the National Memorial Arboretum in July. We’ve got a Twickenham rugby tour and for those who want to come, but aren’t necessarily interested in rugby, I’m looking at a visit to nearby Strawberry Hill House. Regarding holidays, we have Little Trains of the Pyrenees booked as well as a trip to north Wales. I’m also looking at trips to Scotland and Cyprus so plenty going on!
Sue Poole…At a Glance
Group Name: Wooburn Outings