not for profit - continued
what does it mean when we say Hamilton Hall is a
Here is the truth: and I'm going to have a little moan here at other organisations and web sites, so forgive my negative input - as I would love to be able to work with other organisations and offer a wider range of services, yet over the years the incompompetance and slow method of working with others has driven me mad and I despair for people relying on the services of some organisations with staff who have zero interest or passion in what they are doing.
I bought Hamilton Hall for cash - with no mortgage - having worked hard for 15 years as a full time escort in London and saved my money and paid a mortgage on my Hammersmith home, bought 100% with escorting income - and I always declared my income and paid tax as a sex worker ( so what does that make the tax man - yes you've guessed it ... A PIMP. ) I then spent an aditional £100,000 on Hamilton Hall getting it furnished and recarpeted, re plumbed and totally re-done throughout in order to open. This was between March and July 2000.
I then ran out of money - I had over spent.
It then took 3 years before we started to get busy enough to start paying off some of the credit card debts I had run up paying for advertising this new venue, which I did get wrong and did place expensive adverts in magazines that were a complete and utter waste of time and money, and my overdraft was huge and worrying.
It took me - in all - 6 years to pay off those credit card bills and huge overdraft and we struggled BIG TIME - even though business picked up, the workshops were always busy and income was good.
Owning a venue is just the start of the outgoings and these are high, very high, as electricity and gas do not come cheap and we have many hidden costs which are only applied to businesses and some of these are crippling.
But even though the hard times, the times when I had to return many times to my old profession - escort work - in order to pay some of the bills around here, we still gave incredible value for money and still - always - offered free holiday periods to people with HIV and Aids and to elderly retired gay men who were short of funds, and always ran around helping, guiding and offering assistance to others wherever and whenever we could.
At times I have lost the plot, become a mad thing, angry and stressed and I have not been pleasant to be around and one staff member in particular, put up with a lot. When you are struggling financially and worrying about the overdraft, and the bills and the fear of loosing what you have worked so hard for and all the while you receive hate mail from embittered queens who envy and resent and who love to throw bile at you and who have absolutely no idea - and who actually themselves offer bugger all to anyone, and all they do is take take take, and that is hard. I also had a relationship 'in there' for a few years that turned me into a mad thing, and I was - a mad thing... angry. And all along I was watching my Mother - in her mid 80's - sliding into dementia and falling over and needing the ambulance all the time, and even breaking bones and ending up in a care home, and it was heart rendering at a time when I thought my emotions could take no more. It was hard to keep going. Hard to stay focused. Hard to cope - and with little support from friends I thought better of, I struggled. Thankfully, a whole new 'family' of friends manifested locally - mostly all customers of ours here who had moved to Bournemouth and became close, and with their help, their support and most of all, their love, I came out the other side and began to see clearly again, and with the help of a good staff, we came back on track and life is good again.
Any profit we have made, however small, has always been re applied into the busines, - into this innovative venue that helps and shares with so many people, and we are able to keep our prices down while offering a far superior venue than is often found in smaller hotels such as this - in order to offer something a little nicer - more comfortable and intimate than you would find anywhere else.
In 2010 we offered £1,400 worth of free holidays to guys with HIV & Aids through the Terrence Higgins Trust and after sending 3 e mails over a 3 week period, and then phoning several times, I was left feeling as if I had to BEG the T.H.T. to take our holidays - our FREE holidays - and even made to feel I had to beg to get any kind of professional response from them at all, I withdrew the offer. We were stunned and appalled at the incompetant service offered and the unprofessional manner in which we had been - first - COMPLETELY ignored - then second - treated as a nuisance.
We were all stunned here at Hamilton Hall. Truly stunned.
Since the Channel 4's programme - '3 IN A BED' was broadcast last April, we have been inundated with requests from various organisations who saw what we are offering on the telly and professionally wrote lovely letters explaining about some of their service users needs, and and we are already booked out for our free weekend and free week periods until the end of the summer. We shall take a few more bookings for the winter period, as it is our joy to offer these holidays and a shame the THT and EJF could not have been a part of this.
Last winter ( 2009 ) 3 windows started falling out of the building with rot and great pieces of the frames were found laying in the garden. We did not dare clean the glass as it would have fallen out. This was at a time when the credit crunch was hitting hard, we were overdrawn at the bank ( as usual ) and I had to spend £1,500 on some root canal work on my teeth as I had been living in agony for 6 months trying hard not to have to pay for it to be done. The National Health dentist had buggered it all up and made the teeth worse - not better - and I had to go private to get it sorted - and I was facing an important choice. 1) Have the windows replaced and this meant having 2 big molars taken out - or 2) have the root canal work and not have the windows done, - but there was no question - the windows were a must - and it was an old friend and client from my escort days who stated that I MUST have my teeth done and I must NOT have them out at the expense of windows... so he offered and paid for the root canal work and I paid for the windows, so we were lucky enough to have both done... and it is not every day you meet someone who is willing to prostitute himself in order to keep a 'NOT FOR PROFIT VENUE' running and who seriously considered having teeth out in order to keep his venue open, and this is dedication.
I get my studio at the top of Hamilton Hall, which I often take guests to, talking in my private space - and I have my food and so forth, but anything else I may want - always comes second or even third to new double glazing - new patio furniture - new paint or a new bedroom carpet, and everything is geared around this venue being decent, clean and a wonderful place to visit and to return to. It is not about me, and I often sit shivvering upstairs in my flat - so that the hotel side can be warmer and the bills just that tiny bit more affordable, and sometimes I think this is madness, as the property is worth a great deal and I am a wealthy man - but everything I have, everything I am, is in Hamilton Hall and Hamilton Hall is here for those who wish for something better out of life.
We offer the largest Diary of Events offered to gay men anywhere in Europe. More events. More functions. More workshops. More parties. More singles events and more for the older gay man than anywhere else, and yet we still struggle financially and we still keep offering more and more. We still have a hard time with other groups - like Caffmos, which is an internet group for elderly guys, and the fear and arrogance offered - in refusing 16 events offered for their members, as NOT FOR PROFIT EVENTS, for a group with a completely empty Diary of Events for 2010 at the time, was utterly and completely disgraceful. They threw me off as a member and even returned my membership fee and all because they were afraid of us - and used some really petty lame excuse which was just laughable, and many other members were disgusted at John - who runs Caffmos, for his short sighted attitude and refusal to allow his members the choice of attending our events, or not, and taking it upon himself that no one would be allowed to offer an event unless he approved of it beforehand, and this ignorant behaviour should not be tolerated. It is not constructive. It is not supportive and it is not decent.
And all because some people cannot get their head around someone who is doing all this for no income personally, and every penny earned into Hamilton Hall goes back, in some way, to helping others.
Caffmos - - Shame on you.
Do not assume any of these organisations set up to help people will actually do what they are set up to do. Sometimes they may come through for you, but so many times they do not, and with paid members of staff and volunteers in place to help, it is disgraceful when they sometimes act so badly and offer so little and expect so much prasie and glory for doing bugger all.
So there you are. Not the usual story you read about a gay man who owns a venue aimed at the gay market, who drives a fast car, takes loads of expensive vacations a year and shows his wealth off in many ways. Not the usual 'me me me' attitude and certainly not what you would expect. Some question - which says more about them :- Some accept, which is wonderful : - Some take advantage - which is sad and some offer help and positive guidance and input - which is always valued and accepted.
If you'd like to comment or share with me, I always welcome constructive input.
Page 2 of 2