Eric Meacock's Story
In December 1974 the Societies Founding President, Ken Strom, announced that with close to 1,200 members in nearly 80 countries around the world, the International Society of Postmasters is now a reality. It represented to Ken a dream come true. Making the dream come true had not been easy, the founding committee had their share of problems but by early November 1974 most had been resolved and a working organisation with the potential to serve as a world-wide forum for exchanges between Postmasters finally existed.
The first President was Ken Strom who, having seen service in the US Navy, was Postmaster at Pacifica California USA. Ken had been active in Postmasters organisations in the USA for 9 years, having served as President at a National and State level, he was also experienced in public life serving as President of Pacifica Rotary Club, Chairman of San Mateo Country Human Relations Committee, President of Pacifica Boys Club and Chairman of the San Mateo County Planning Commission.
The first Secretary was the late Douglas Blackie, who after service in the Royal Canadian Air Force, was a high school teacher for four years before his appointment as Postmaster in North Western Alberta. A long serving Provincial Board Member Doug was elected National President of the Canadian Postmasters Association in 1969 a position he still held when, having been involved from the start with the formation of the I.S.P., he served as its secretary. Doug visited his son in Australia in 1975 and made the trip across from Sydney to Perth where he met with West Australian Postmasters at the home of then President of the WA Branch of the Australian Postmasters Association, Phil Heydon, Postmaster GPO Perth. Phil had received and accepted one of the open invitations to join the newly formed International Society of Postmasters the previous year, and organised the gathering to introduce his West Australian colleagues to Doug Blackie and have them learn of the Society.
I was on the Australian Postmasters Association WA Branch Committee at that time and was impressed with Doug and what he had to say about the Society and along with others present took the opportunity to join the Society.
By August 1975 the Society had already progressed a long way from its initial meetings, where President Ken Strom shared his enthusiasm for such an organisation with a small group of Postmasters from the USA and Canada. Financial stability had been assured through a successful world-wide philatelic-numismatic programme and a decision taken to open a permanent office in Switzerland to facilitate the day to day operation and administration of the Society. One of the small group of Postmasters, Gaston Meunier, a dedicated and long serving member, National Secretary and Editor, of the Canadian Postmasters Association, accepted a full time position as Secretary General of the International Society of Postmasters and moved with his family to Geneva Switzerland.
The first of many medallic First Day Covers issued by the I.S.P. through Franklin Mint was to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the great humanitarian, Albert Schweitzer, and to honour the occasion a cheque for 3,000 Swiss francs was donated by the I.S.P. to Dr. Schweitzer’s hospital in Lambaréné Africa.
After establishing the head office in Geneva the Society prospered with the success of several philatelic programmes and a good response to membership campaigns and international meetings around the world, including attendance in 1975 of a conference of 3,000 postmasters in Nikko, Japan. President Ken Strom in reporting on the Society pointed out that;- <Postmasters are unique in that they have a friend in every city of the world – the local Postmaster is usually discovered to be a cordial, interested and informed colleague – and that language barriers tend to minimize when you are among friends.>
After the first General Assembly of the Society at Geneva Switzerland in July 1976:- the members of the Board of Governors included Hermann Hugli of Switzerland, Haruki Takeda of Japan and Nicole Morel of Canada, who replaced Doug Blackie following his withdrawal on acceptance of a promotion to the Ottawa Offices of Canada Post. A Constitution had been accepted for the Society ; A Bursary Awards programme introduced and a prominent display mounted at "Interphil’76" at Philadelphia USA.
Meetings were held with national groups of Postmasters and postal administrations in many different areas of the world during the next four years including Tunisia, where the formation of regional councils with the Society and appointment of Liaison Officers was mooted. Priority was given to the formation of a European Council and the first three liaison officers were appointed. During 1978 & 1979 meetings were held in Canada, USA, Japan, Sri Lanka, Morocco, Germany and Spain. In mid 1979 the Board of Governors decided to move I.S.P. headquarters from Geneva, due to the high costs involved in operating from that city, and the emerging international status of the city of Montréal, Canada was instrumental in plans to re-locate the Head Office there. The move took place in April/May 1980. Liaison Officers were appointed in Sri Lanka, Morocco and Tunisia and plans for two meetings down-under in Australia were commenced. Donald Pike organising the Melbourne Victoria meeting while I looked into arrangements for a Perth Western Australia meeting.
In April 1980 the executive of the Society attended the first official I.S.P. meeting in Australia held in Melbourne and two days later Governor Nicole Morel and the Secretary General met with Postmasters in Sydney while President Ken Strom journeyed to Perth to meet with West Australian members, he was joined in Perth by Sri Lankan Liaison Officer, Michael Liyanage. Their visit to the West included sight seeing around Perth and Kings Park, an evening visit to a Gloucester Park trotting meeting, where Ken witnessed an historic match race between two inter-dominion champions in which the older horse successfully unsettled his younger opponent and went on to win the challenge - Ken was astute enough to place a winning bet on a horse called ‘Adios Ken’ in the last race too. After the Saturday afternoon meeting attended by 13 of the 15 I.S.P. members in Western Australia (including Harry Kerr and Dave Edwick, who with their spouses had driven from Norseman & Esperance for the weekend) a reception and dinner to which spouses were invited was enjoyed by all, as was the Sunday river cruise to Swan Valley vineyards and evening barbeque which followed.
Liaison Officer Appointment.
While talking with me in Perth Ken broached the subject of an I.S.P. Liaison Officer for Australia and asked if I would consider the appointment. Following Board of Governors meetings my appointment as Liaison Officer for all of Australia was announced in November 1980. I was experienced in furthering the welfare and prestige of fellow Postmasters in Australia having served on the WA Branch of the Australian Postmasters Association as a committeeman, Vice President in 1976, elected Branch President in 1977, a position I held for over five years travelling extensively throughout Western Australia and to interstate Association conferences in Victoria and New South Wales.
In the November 1980 ‘Dialogue’ magazine an announcement was made that the 2nd General Assembly of the I.S.P. would take place in Montréal Canada in September/October 1981.
Nomination for position on Board of Governors.
During a private trip to England in May 1981, I had discussions on I.S.P. with Alan Burton, Liaison Officer Great Britain, and with encouragement from Ken Strom and the concurrence of my A.P.A. fellow executives, Geoff Southworth and Des Barker, I decided to nominate for one of the three positions, on the Societies Board of Governors, due for election at the Montréal General Assembly.
Arrangements having been made by the Board of the Society for all Liaison Officers to attend the 1981 General Assembly I made my first trip to USA and Canada and was present at the Assembly. Two of the existing Board members, Hugli and Takeda, did not seek re-election and five nominations were received for the three positions.
Nicole Morel was re-elected, Francis Maillard and myself were elected for a five year term to the Board.Travel to Montréal September 1981 etc., see Montréal'81 page.
Eric Meacock Asia/Australasia Region