Too Old at 40?

           From IVC Bulletin July 1964

Letter to The Editor.

Too Old at 40?

Should the Club have an upper age limit? Let me examine the proposition. The present state is that all I.V.C.’s have a lower age limit of 18 and a vague upper limit for new members (depending more on outlook than actual age) of about 35. Those who pay their subscription regularly are then in for life as far as the constitution goes, except that the Council has the power to ask any member to resign. As the average age of club is about 28, the average age of new members is about 26 (a guess) and the average length of stay in club about two years, there would not seem to be much of a problem. It is, however, my contention both that the average age of club is increasing and that 28 is already too high. I consider that the average age should be 25 or at the most 26.

Consider the history of I.V.C. It was formed as a holiday club for Oxbridge students in London, grew with them to be a club to keep graduates in touch with each other (still in London), expanded to include other professional people and spread outside London. There seems to be the possibility that the same people will wish to keep in touch as they grow older and will use the I. V. C. as the means. I have nothing against people keeping in touch unless by so doing they change the I.V.C. to suit themselves. It can he argued that if the I.V.C. allows itself to be changed, then the change was a good thing, but remember that the younger members do not have the tactical advantage of experience and personal contact enjoyed by the old hands.

The big danger that I see is that the I.V.C will cease to be a “first stage” club and become a second or third stage club. By this I mean that instead of being a club for these just down from College who are still in transit, it will be a club for those who have settled down. If this should happen, then another clubs will spring up to take over the role vacated by I.V.C. In my view, it would be much better for us to encourage the formation of a club to take over where we end. We could provide office facilities and occasional use of the premises as a temporary or even permanent measure, There could be membership of both if desired between say 30 and 40 so that one would gradually ease from I.V.C. to the other.

What would be the effect on the Club of losing the older members? We would lose some very experienced organisers who are really essential for our major functions. Or are they. How did they become experienced? Certainly stability is a good thing but so is youthful exuberance. What effect does a discussion about 40-year old members have on prospective new members? Maybe one or two of them will write in and tell us. Does the presence of the older member daunt the younger ones or not? Does it make more difference when one is very new to Club than later when one has got to know them? Age after all is a very relative thing, 40 to 20 is different from 40 to 30. The one is old, the other young, though both are the same age. All very complex.

What would be the effect on the members themselves? Those left behind will lose some contact with some of their friends but will still have the Club. New members will be coming into a younger and possibly more vital club (few of us can maintain a reforming zeal over long periods). Those leaving will have to find some other activity to fill the gap left by Club. Most will probably have done this well before 40 but a few will be faced with a formidable individual problem. The suggested “other” club should be able to help here and there are other clubs as well. This should be a fairly small problem as a whole. For myself: I do not anticipate being in I.V.C. at 40 although I hope I shall still know many of the present members. Perhaps at 39 I shall feel differently about both.

Should, the good of the Club come before the good of individual members and what is the good of Club anyway? Des anyone have any strong views on the questions raised? Does anyone have any views at all? Is anyone going to take the trouble to reply? I await the next Bulletin to find out. I might point out that the questions are raised as general ones and not in relation to any person specifically. I trust that I haven’t lost too many friends

Yours far from anonymously,

Peter Telford


In Jan 2014 –
The average age was 58
5 members were under 40.
58 people have been members for over 20 years.

This is the first written reference to an uppr age limit.
A maximum age was set three years after this letter.

Here is the history of the age limit.
1965 AGM Attempt to introduce a maximum age limit of 45 – failed

 1967 AGM The chairman, David Roy, proposed a motion to impose a 40 age limit.
This was passed by 39:14. (The average age had reached 29).
[David Roy became Lord Mayor of Birmingham in 1995].

1968 AGM Attempt to rescind 40 age limit – just failed to reach required 2:1 majority

1971 AGM A vote on abolishing the limit was 51:49 – failed – not sufficient majority (note: 100 members voted). A motion to apply the age limit only to new members – failed 23:37

1972 AGM A motion to permit the committee to allow up to 1% of the membership each year to be allowed to stay on beyond 40 was passed.

1979 AGM A motion to remove all references to an upper age limit for existing members was passed. A motion to admit new members only under 35 was passed (committee can make exceptions).

1985 AGM A motion to introduce a 40 age limit failed.
One for a 40 age limit for new members failed to get 2/3 majority.

 1986 AGM A motion to introduce a 40 age limit for existing members and 35 for new members failed to get 2/3 majority.

1987 AGM A motion instructing the committee not to refer to an upper age in publicity was passed.