Being a member of ROSL means many different things depending on who you ask. It could be the central London location, the bedroom accommodation, the food and drink, the network of reciprocal clubs, the arts and educational support we provide to young people, the event programme, the Commonwealth connections, the friendships, and much more. In a new series of articles, we are asking members far and wide what means most to them about ROSL. This week, member Jill Courtnell tells us what she thinks. 

How did you first hear about ROSL?

I saw an advert in the Royal Academy Magazine at a time when I still lived in Hertfordshire.

How long have you been a member?

Since the 1980s.

Which three words would you use to describe ROSL?

Welcoming. Outreach. Arts.

What do you enjoy most about being a member?

ROSL has supplied many different requirements for me over the years. When I first joined, it was a very convenient central meeting point in London which gave space to sit and talk with friends and reasonably priced meals in an expensive city. As I travelled more on my own, I made good use of the reciprocal club opportunities, where I always felt comfortable, and was able to enjoy the companionship of likeminded people in a way that wasn't possible in hotels. I have made friends in many different parts of the world as a result.

I have watched the developments at Over-Seas House with interest as the years have passed; upgrading of bedrooms and redecoration of the public spaces, improvement to the gardens which now make a delightful venue for summer events, the renovation of the Princess Alexandra Hall where the wonderful Annual Music Competition is hosted, along with many other interesting events.

I look forward to receiving the Overseas magazine, with its news and views of current and worldwide topics, particularly what is occurring in the projects which the organisation is supporting.

I admire the energy and forward thinking of the committee members and staff who are looking to keep the club viable and 'on track' in the increasingly competitive market of today, and the never-failing welcome and helpfulness of the employees.

I have held two 'Big Birthday' parties - a sit-down lunch for 50 in the Restaurant, and an evening celebration of a reception and meal in the Bennet-Clark Suite for 36 - both of which were catered for in the way which met all our requests, and were deemed hugely successful.

What one thing would you change?

Possibly an additional membership concession for the over 80s. The fee is "quite a wallop" for pensioners, and a 'pointed reduction' could be beneficial in encouraging us to attend more events (thus spreading our contribution more evenly throughout the year). It is a valuable resource of companionship and entertainment in the years when friends and relatives become fewer.

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