We were having dinner with friends – this being some 25 years ago – the wife of said couple being very involved helping to plan events for a large London charity. In fact, she had a big event in just a week’s time and regaled us with a story about the charity’s total disorganisation.
It seems that three events were being planned by the charity all at the same time – certainly not unusual for large charities. However, what was upsetting to her, and to quite a few other volunteers, was that all three events were on the same night. Not one of three staff members had thought to check to be sure the date was available.
The lady in question looked at me and said, “Why don’t you do something about this. You Americans are so organised you know how to keep this from happening.”
Well as a matter of fact, she was correct. An acquaintance of mine had just started a publication that was a schedule of events happening in and around the Chicago area. Not only did the publication handle listings for charity events, it also had all of the major sporting events. It was very popular and very helpful.
Later Tom and I talked about this, thought it over, did some research and finally decided something like this could be very helpful in the London area, especially with the number of charities in and around London. However, with so many sporting events in the area, we definitely were not going in that direction. We would keep our publication focused on charities and charity events.
The next thing to consider was a name. Now that sounds relatively easy, right? Wrong! It took much longer than expected and a lot of discussion before we reached a conclusion and everyone we talked to about this had a different idea. In the end, it was really quite simple. We had a book and this book was going to do a calendar with dates of charity events … A datebook. The book was for the London area so logically … The London DatebooK. Several years later we realised that a portion of the events in the Calendar were from outside of London. Thus it was decided to change the title to The London & UK DatebooK to reflect our larger geographical distribution.
When we finally published the first copies, we had a book of eight pages with a listing of around 30 events. Today our Calendar of Events has over 130 listings – each with a description – that covers just four months. Plus our website has a Late Entries Section which is proving to be quite helpful.
Over the years we have – as the old expression goes – “multiplied and divided; added and subtracted”. At one point we were up to 60 pages in each issue, which was an overwhelming amount of work. We are now at 32 pages, much better to handle, and the Calendar of Events is still the major focus of the publication. We periodically add to features and sometimes do some eliminating. However, our direction remains the same … Charities and Charity Events.
We have a great group of writers, some of whom have been with us from early on. We also have a great production team, headed by Ron Bryant-Funnell, and a super Administrative Assistant, Debbie Smith. They keep us on course.
So there you have it. From a casual conversation over
dinner to 25 years of charities and charity events.
How is it possible … 25 years!
Mary Kay Eyerman