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The Early Days of the NRTF

For Village Halls Week we asked John Laidlaw to tell us about his early memories of rural touring networking and what would become the NRTF…

Back in the years before the NRTF existed, I attended a south-west networking meeting. I can’t remember the year exactly, possibly 1992 or 1993 and I can’t remember the exact venue, but it was in Exeter. I had only just started as a freelancer, managing the then pithily titled Warwickshire Village and Community Touring scheme, now Live & Local. The meeting was primarily for groups from the South West and I was the most northerly delegate. I was still very much learning about RT having only started in 1991 having previously been a production manager and touring technician and the Warwickshire scheme was looking at management models for the future.

This meeting stuck out for me as there wasn’t an assumption that it would necessarily be repeated or that the rural touring groups, in particular, would form any association. I’d been to several similar events, not about RT, where the opposite was true regardless of need or demand!

There was however a dynamic that with hindsight encapsulated the principles and growth of the RT sector. Contact lists were shared, and like-minded organisations and people stayed in touch. It grew organically … it wasn’t forced, and the growth was focussed entirely on the rural touring sector and reflecting the fundamental principles of the sector.

If you have a Rural Touring memory you’d like to share with us, whether that is from 20 + years ago, or 20 minutes ago, we are always looking for contributors to our blog. Get in touch with Stephie admin@nrtf.org.uk