The South East Section can trace its origins back to the summer of 1981 when six members of the then London Section decided to set up another Section in the south east of England. Three of those were Doug & Sheila Holder and Val Frost. Placing adverts for other like-minded souls in the Aquarist magazine they attracted enough interest to proceed with their aim. Amongst them were Mac Wilson and Gwen & Ernie Scutt. Initially meeting in one another’s houses they eventually established a base at Bruce’s Café in Badgers Mount, not far from the present day headquarters in Chelsfield.
Having established sufficient interest and numbers they sought Section status from the British Koi Keepers Society (BKKS) in 1982, under the proposed name of South East Section. However, at the same time another group of Koi Keepers, an offshoot of the Essex Section were vying for the same name. After much debate we won through and the other section became known as the Lower Thames Section.
Heralded by this message in the August 1982 edition of the BKKS Magazine the inaugural meeting took place at 2pm on the 15th of August Bruce’s Café under the chairmanship of Steve Farmer. 55 people attended and membership was levied at £3 per annum, per person or £4.50 for a family. News travelled fast in those days and very soon the embryonic section gathered more members. Tony Clear and Michael Dilling joined at the second meeting and John Pitham, (later to set up the Koi Water Barn) joined on the third.
By 1984 the chairmanship had passed to Tony West(1983) and the section felt they were experienced enough to hold their first Open Koi Show (after having previously experimented with 2 closed shows, the first of which was held on the 15th May 1983) held at Polhill Garden Centre under the joint Show-Chairmanship of Chris Ball and Steve Farmer. In those days the vats were made of corrugated plastic lined with polythene and no more than 18” high. But the seeds of our Show tradition had been sown and would continue to the present day. Our first Grand Champion was a size 5 Kohaku owned by Alan Rogers.
1986 and the chairmanship had changed again (David Brown being elected that year). The first of our Anglo-American ventures started too, when we formed a partnership arrangement with the Ventura County Koi Club of California, our contact in California being Stan Ranson, one time editor of Koi Usa. Our 2nd show was again held at the Polhill Garden Centre, across the road from Bruce’s Café. This time the Show Chairman was Doug (Dob) Holder and the show had moved on considerably. Proper show vats, 6 BKKS Judges officiating and some of the highest quality fish in the country on show. Grand Champion was a size 6 Kokahu owned by Peter Waterman, the pop-impresario who brought us Kylie Minogue.
1999 and we established our 2nd Anglo-American partnership with the Oregon Koi & Watergarden Society via Norman B Call, the man with the world's largest collection of Koi Badges.
2002 and the section celebrated its 21st anniversary, Dave Brown still reigns as Chairman, probably the longest serving Section Chairman in the country.
2003, The Show tradition continues although there have been several changes of Show Chairman, Brian Edwards & Ray Tucker, Peter Love, Alan Maskell, Sue James, have all held the reins and they are now in the hands of Terry Wells who will guide us to our 17th Open Show in August 2003.
Along the way the section has grown and now maintains a steady membership of approximately 85 households. Several of the founder members still remain with the section, as do many other who can boast of 15 years of service if not more. Thankfully we manage to attract new members every year to stop the section degenerating into an OAP club, who very quickly learn that their original enthusiasm for the hobby is still held by those pioneering founder members.