Rank and File | Gillian Blackett

 

Gillian took over the Club House last May. She talks to Phil Castiaux about the changes she has brought about, her further objectives and her life.

 

What has changed since May?

Physically the outside of the building has been painted and the internal walls redecorated. In terms of the use of the building we have been raising its profile on Facebook and Instagram and we’ve been busy hosting lots of events like 18th and 21st birthday parties as well as christenings and wedding night parties. We’ve also done 50th, 60th,70th,80th and 90th birthday parties. I think we’ve established a good reputation and we’re mow getting repeat bookings which speaks volumes. Takings are up quite a lot and we’re taking bookings up to April already for next year.

 

What does the future hold for the Club House?

Well, obviously I’d like to renovate the whole place including the toilets and the dance floor but the thing we’ll be doing next is recovering the seats. I want to go ahead cautiously. There’s no point in going too fast and ending up losing money but we aim to provide a place where people are happy to spend time.

Next summer it would be nice to resurface the bins area and provide outside seating as well as improving the landscaping. The other thing we are thinking of is having live bands on.

People ask about the food we offer. Going to more than our pies and sandwiches would really complicate matters in terms of hygiene regulations and the like, but I am looking to extend our snack range. We always listen to what customers want and we rotate the beer offer in that respect and have tried various promotions on drinks. For parties we always provide any speciality drinks that are requested.  We sell Prosecco now. It was seen as bit of a joke at first with people saying ‘You’ll never sell that here!’ But it’s actually going down well!

 

What feedback have you had?

We’ve had lots of really good comments. Away fans have said what a good place it is and we’ve had five star ratings on Facebook. As I said earlier many people book with us after having been to other occasions in the Club House. For example, we had a 21st party here the other week and half of the guests had had their own 21st parties here.

 

Are you originally from Blyth?

No, I was born in West Moor and now live in Whitely Bay. But I worked in Blyth for over 30 years for Blyth Valley Council and Homes for Northumberland. It’s where I met Colin. I knew him for a long time before we got married five years ago. So I’ve obviously heard a lot about the Spartans. I’ve seen a couple of gamers but obviously I’m busy behind the bar at home games.

 

Do you still work there?

No, I took redundancy last April. I was going to train to be a nurse but was diagnosed with cancer. I’ve had chemotherapy and radiography since then but the cancer is still there so I might need more treatment meaning the I’ve had to put my further education on hold.  The diagnosis was a bolt from the blue.

 

What are your main interests away for Croft Park?

I like walking my two dogs and spending money!

I have a shitzu and a sprocker, which is a cross between a springer spaniel and a cocker spaniel, and I love spending on interior design and stuff like that. Now that I’ve left the Council I can also spend more time with my sister who is a ‘lady who lunches’! I can generally spend more time with my family. There’s Colin obviously, and I have two daughters who are students plus two step children: one at college and the other still at school.

Bad things happen but, to take a positive from a negative, it means I can appreciate being with my family.

Posted by Sam Donovan