Fun, fellowship and friendship have been the keys to keeping a club going for more than three decades, according to one of its oldest members.
The Dunstan Friendship Club celebrated 35 years of meeting in Alexandra on Tuesday, with eight past presidents and nearly 90 members attending a lunch.
Oldest of the past presidents Max O’Leary, now of Cromwell, said he joined the group — which was renamed the Friendship Club around eight years ago — when he moved to Central Otago from Gore.
He had been a pharmacist for many years and was looking to connect with people in his new town. He found that connection at the Friendship Club, and was club president in 2000.
‘‘Fun, friendship and fellowship’’ were what kept him in the club after 27 years and a move to Cromwell, Mr O’Leary said.
Current president Maryon Beer said the club had about 150 members. There was no fundraising, and the annual subscription was just $15.
Meetings were held once a month, followed by a speaker, and there was also an activity or outing each month. A strict structure meant the meetings, while necessary, were speedily completed and did not drag on.
Members paid for outings and meals, although the club subsidised the celebration meal.
Numbers for trips varied from three to 40, depending on what was planned. The activities ranged from going to the movies to a six-day trip around the South Island.
‘‘If they are going away on a trip they know they’ll have a good time,’’ Mrs Beer said.
One of the reasons for the club’s success was the personal connection it cultivated.
During Covid lockdown the committee divided up the membership list and phoned every member to check on how they were doing, she said.
The club was entertained at its celebration lunch by Dunstan High School musicians Raf Love and Myah Turnbull, and Misha’s Winery owner Misha Wilkinson spoke about her life.