THE Wootton Bassett Camera Club has just celebrated four decades of happy snapping.

A group of people passionate about photography formed a committee in August 1980 and put together a programme of activities they could enjoy.

They hosted the first meeting in Bassett's iconic Town Hall and have used several other venues over the years.

One early tradition to hold an annual exhibition of photographs in the town's library has continued to this day and seen the mayor for that year present trophies to the winning entrants.

The club needed permission from the Lord Chamberlain's office to re-name itself to match the town's new Royal prefix in 2011 and received approval in 2012.

Though membership levels have varied wildly over they ears as the general interest in photography rose and fell, the arrival of digital photography helped reverse the downward trend.

Now that almost everyone has a camera-phone in their pocket and taking good quality pictures is easier to figure out than ever before, the club has seen a revived interest in membership.

Secretary Peter Hodgson said: "Recent developments in smartphones have meant that an ever-increasing photographic record of human life is made, with the younger generation leading the charge.

"Attracting such members to camera clubs remains a challenge and opportunity for us.

Although we are a small club in comparison to many others, we have a big heart and often punch above our weight in local competitions and battles with other camera clubs.

"Our programme encompasses a mixture of presentations, competitions, practical and member evenings, summer photo-shoots and an annual outing."

This is technically the club's 41st anniversary as Covid postponed the celebrations for reaching its fourth decade. During the pandemic, Zoom meetings allowed speakers and judges from further afield to join in and encouraged clubs to collaborate and share presentations.

The anniversary celebration featured a summer competition which was open to the public and judged by Eddy Lane from Calne.

It ended with a few words from the president, presentations of prizes to the winners and, of course, the cutting of the birthday cake and a nostalgic look back at photos from the archive.

The club aims is to promote all forms of photography and to hold at least one exhibition per year. Members meet every other Tuesday from September to June in the Ballroom at the Angel Hotel from 7.30pm.

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