On 1 October 2008 the Club reached its 50th Birthday. This has not been achieved without a lot of hard work and dedication by many people and it is a tribute to them that this milestone has been reached and that the Club has continued to prosper.
Raflet was founded
by the late A.G. (Geoff) Groom when he was still in his 30s. He had a busy
job, later becoming a Headteacher and then Deputy Head of a special school.He
had originally been Secretary of the Royal Air Force Association Stamp Club
(later "Philatelic Society") from 1951 to 1958, handing this over to others
when his work occupied more of his time. The RAFAPS floundered and it was
wound up but Geoff decided it was a shame that all his efforts had come
to naught and so created Raflet - this time with no ties whatever to the
RAF or any other organisation.
Most of the members were in their late 20s or early 30s and the subscription was just 7/6d (37.5p) or £1 for three years. It cost tuppance ha'penny(1p) to post the 'Rafletter', the Club's monthly journal, which consisted of two sheets of quarto duplicating paper printed on both sides. To put things in perspective for younger readers, in 1958 £10/15 a week was a 'comfortable' income and an average house cost £2,000; most telephone numbers had four digits and Norwich was the only town with a postcode; only one set of commemorative stamps was issued and words like "napthadag" and "graphite" had just crept into the stamp collectors' language.
GB definitives were entering an interesting period of trials because of attempts at more mechanised ways of sorting of the mail. The first issue of the Rafletter included a new issues diary which was first run by 'Yorkshireman' and later by 'Londoner', pseudonyms being essential as they often included tips about stamps worth putting away. A few years later there was a tipsters corner and members were advised to salt away a few of the 4d. GB Commonwealth Conference overprint stamps and the $4.80 [obsolete inscription] Montserrat 1953 definitive was also tipped to rise in value - it's now at £10.
The Ghana Black Star Line issue was fetching 60/- a set mint, 67/6d. used and was "hot" - subsequently the Ghana government issued them c.t.o. and today you can buy values to 5/- for 2p each. Speculation about stamp value appreciation is now frowned upon by the stamp trade, stamp societies and by most collectors. The 'Sale & Wanted' section was run by Ivor Smith having been inaugurated by John Dickman who also arranged the first postal auction which appeared with the November 1958 Rafletter. At the same time there was news of the formation of the packet circuits - initially three; for modern colonials, for GB and early colonials and for foreign stamps.
Some interesting and philatelically historical mentions crop up with information such as "several of the current watermark definitives are to be withdrawn - but the 5d. is not to be withdrawn as it is used for Ministry of Food Orange Juice payment". By October 1959 the membership stood at 167. It had nearly doubled by 1962 and took about another ten years to reach the 1,000 mark where it has remained, more or less, for some time. The One Penny Box came into being in 1963 and has been a popular feature of the Club ever since. Although it briefly became the Half-Penny Box on decimalisation it soon changed into the 1p-Box and, because of inflation, is now the Twopenny Packet.
The GB Circuit was started in September 1964 by J. Cason. We have had many different packet secretaries since then, both for the GB circuits and all the others, but happily we have always had continuity and never a shortage of willing hands to take over as vacancies have occurred. Covermart, the Raflet Library, the Swap Shop, GB Booklet & Pane Circuit and an Aviation Thematic Circuit are all services that have been added over the years and are still very popular with members. In the early days of the Club's existence, Geoff Groom started supplying GB first day covers to members and later included the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. This was a popular service and up to 200 FDC were sold for each issue.
The RAF Museum at Hendon then came into our lives and supplied, on standing order, all the different covers that were created to raise money, initially for the Museum and then for various service charities. As many as 600 copies of some of these covers were ordered by members. Group Captain W.S.O. (Bill) Randle, who was the dedicated, hardworking inspiration behind this amazing fundraising effort, became the President of Raflet Stamp Club in 1977, a post which he held with great success for fifteen years.
When Bill retired from office in 1992, Air Marshal Ian Macfadyen willingly agreed to take over and he is still our President today.
Raflet has always been involved in fundraising for the Club and for various charities and Colin Smith has been the leading light in this respect for many years.
He has raised many thousands of pounds with particular emphasis, in recent years, on funds for the Star and Garter Home.
The Club is postal-only
and its members only "meet" through the medium of The Raflet Philatelic