Founded in 1991 by Phil Heinricy, the Tall Persons Club GB & Ireland is an independent non-profit organisation dedicated to providing information and promoting the interests of tall people.
If you are above average height, know someone who is, or have children who are taller than average, the Tall Persons Club aims to offer support, guidance, practical information, and a social outlet that facilitates the meeting of equally elevated souls. Joining the Tall Persons Club can help you gain confidence, and inspire you to improve matters not just for tall people, but for all people.
WHO SHOULD JOIN?
We welcome anyone who will benefit from our information. Membership is for those who consider themselves taller than average.
You decide. We have no minimum height requirement because we believe that people know for themselves whether or not they are tall. The club welcomes individuals and families – taller than average children are, after all, the next generation of members. With each generation growing taller, our members are drawn from all walks of life and every age group.
It was a perfectly ordinary December day in 1990, ordinary that is, apart from the fact that I had overslept, and was a little late leaving for work. I finished my cup of coffee, picked up my briefcase and was about to head for the door when the commercial break in The Time The Place drew to a close, and they trailed a coming programme.
"Are you very tall, are you very short? Has this affected your life? Do you have a story to tell about what it is like to be either very tall or very short? If so, call The Time The Place".
I called, and vented my spleen about some of the things that irritated me about being exceptionally tall, as well as explaining why I actually enjoy being 6ft 8in. The researcher asked whether I would be available to appear on the programme a few days hence, and so it was that I came to be in London a few days before Christmas, ready to embark on my first television appearance. Thames Television was paying for my room at the Ibis Hotel near Euston station.
Little did I realise at the time that I would be back at the same hotel seven and a half years later, during the largest convention of tall people this country had ever hosted.
Waiting in hospitality before the programme, I noticed how all the tall people were at one end of the room while all the short people had congregated at the other.
Both groups were sharing tips on where to buy the many things in which the user's or wearer's height was a factor. One of the men in the tall group, having just written down the names of two shops he hadn't known about, said: "Wouldn't it be great if there were some place you could call and get all this information?"
The seeds were sown!
As you can imagine, I raised several points during the programme.
Back in hospitality I got talking with Judith Levy, of the specialist retailer High and Mighty. I told her I wished that no tall teenager would have to go through what I went through without knowing that there was some support from people who understood. I proposed an organisation for tall people. She liked the idea and suggested we meet again.
The seeds were sprouting nicely!
Judith and I met again the following March, this time at the High & Mighty head office in Hungerford. She was most supportive, saying that co-operation between us could lead to them gaining a greater understanding of their market, and they would be happy to support a club with advertising.
The seeds had firmly taken root.
I suspect my long suffering wife thought that this was just another of my madcap ideas, which I would research thoroughly, but which would ultimately come to nothing. Unfortunately for her, I knew the right producer at our local radio station, BBC Hereford and Worcester. Mary Johns, all 5ft nothing of her, was intrigued by the concept of a club for tall people, and interviewed me for the mid-morning show. A few people called for more information. I made contact, and we discussed the idea further. It became apparent that this sucker just might fly. One thing I was certain of: the majority of people wanted information rather than social activity. All agreed it would be nice, especially for teenagers, but essentially it was 'Information before Intoxication'.
It would take a really nasty frost to kill these seeds.
A few days later I received a telephone call, which I at first thought was a wind up. Unbeknown to me, Mary Johns had passed our interview up the line within the BBC, and now the Johnny Walker programme wanted me to come down to Broadcasting House to be interviewed on Radio 5. Well, why not? I'd already done local radio, so what were a couple of million more listeners? I was slightly nervous, but the atmosphere was relaxed and enjoyable, and the interview a success. How much of a success only really became clear in the course of the following weeks.
As I left the studio a researcher said: “That was amazing – as soon as you started chatting, the switchboard lit up like a Christmas tree! We weren’t ready for that kind of response.”
She also handed me a piece of paper with a telephone number on it. A man from Holland had heard the show and called in to say that he was 7ft 3in, and head of the Dutch Tall Club; would I please call him? It was my first contact with Rob Bruintjes, or anyone from any Tall Club for that matter.
From talking with Rob I knew I was on the right track: Information, and lobbying. Rob told me of some of the Dutch Club's successes, which only further served to confirm what I already knew, that a British Tall Club was needed, and wanted.
As a result of my Radio 5 debut a news agency asked to interview Carol and me about how we cope with the 17in height difference and about this club I was proposing for an article in Take a Break - hey, a lot of people read this stuff! The article appeared without even a mention of the club. Oh, well.
Letters and forwarded notes from the BBC trickled in consistently, and it looked like the word was on the streets, that someone somewhere has started a tall club. The mailing list was approaching three figures. Those seeds were ripening nicely.
Terry Wogan was on TV three evenings a week with his chat show. Imagine my surprise when Seana, a researcher called to invite me to appear. I knew the Wogan format well. Usually it consisted of an A lister, a lesser celeb, then a slightly odd or quirky guest, to make the others look good. I knew which they had me down for. Twelve months later, I would have relished the challenge, but I knew my limitations; I declined. I explained my reasons to Seana, who told me that her contract was about to expire and that she was moving to a daytime magazine show which would be far more suitable. Could she call me when she started her new job? She called me in mid July, and everything was arranged until that final glitsch.
"When did you start the club", she asked.
"I haven't yet".
"Oh! In that case we can't really do anything with this. When were you thinking of starting the club?"
"When were you thinking of transmitting?"
"Sounds good enough to me"
Seana became excited at the idea of launching the club on Garden Party, a now defunct magazine show which was transmitted live from Glasgow Botanical Gardens; they flew me there for the day. What a pose: "I'm just flying up to Glasgow for the day to do some TV".
That is how the Club came into being, with a seven minutes piece on a BBC lunchtime show. To find out in full what happened next, and how it turned my life upside down for the next ten years, I guess you will just have to buy a copy of my book.
Let's just say that for the next few years our postman lived in constant fear of a hernia, and appearing on TV and radio became part of my normal working life!
The directors of the Tall Persons Club are unpaid volunteers who devote much of their spare time to collectively run the club.
A director is often responsible for a particular on-going area of the club (eg accounts, magazine, website) but also works on specific tasks as required (eg preparing the publication of an updated edition of the Supplier Directory, organising the Annual National Event).
Smaller tasks are shared between the directors as they arise.
Wherever possible and practical the directors look to the members to help with tasks to enable them to work on improving the club rather than just running it in its current form. If you have some regular spare time, or just on an occasional basis, where you can help the club in any way, please email the directors at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The directors convene a board meeting approximately every three months. At these meetings recent and on-going tasks are discussed and plans are made for immediate and long term tasks. There is more to running a large club than meets the eye and these meetings can last for up to five hours and sometimes they are not held in a pub (although very rarely).
We currently have 2 and possibly a third director but we are looking for more hands to help and members who have skill sets which admin, websites or accountancy would be welcome additions to join us (if approved of by the members).