The British Gold Panners Association was the brainchild of Staffon Feron during the latter part of the 1980’s. Staffon, a Swedish national, was very passionate about Gold prospecting and ran a company in the UK called Goldspear. This company manufactured an instrument which when pushed into the ground and touched gold it gave a signal. This instrument was called a “Goldspear”.
Staffon thought it would be nice to get all those who were interested in panning for Gold together in one place. Some of these panners had been panning for many years without seeing anyone else. The first gathering was in Wales in 1988 and the meeting place was a car park at Tynn-Y-Gross, just outside of Dolgellau. Staffon had organised some visits for the Saturday and a competition on the Sunday. This was the first British Gold Panning Championship, although some of our panners had been to the World Championships that had started during the 1977.
The competition spirit continued and over the next couple of years, the competition went to Helmsdale (Scotland), back to Wales and then to the Mennock burn, which is just outside of Wanlockhead, Scotland.
It was Staffon’s idea that Britain should host the World Championship and he asked some members of the BGA who were going to the World Championships in Germany 1989, to bid for Great Britain to host the 1992 World Championships. The bid was successful, but by this time Staffon was very ill and sadly did not get to see his dream come true.
In 1992, the World Championships were held after much debate, in the villages of Wanlockhead and Leadhills. This competition is still talked about to this day, due to the Scottish weather that did not disappoint us. Horizontal rain and gale force winds did not deter the 35 strong BGA team from running a very fair and enjoyable competition.
Since hosting the World Championships in 1992, the National Championships have been held at Wanlockhead, Leadhills, Dolaucothi, Glendevon and Aberystwyth. In 2001 due to foot and mouth the competitions were cancelled.
During this time the BGA has represented Great Britain on the World Gold Panning Association executive committee and a British team has competed in all the world competitions including, Sweden, Finland, Austria, Yukon, France, Italy, USA, CZ Republic, Poland, Australia, Japan & South Africa. In addition to representing Great Britain at the Worlds, members have travelled to other National and European Championships.
In June 2002, Mick Gossage stood down as president after 11 years and was replaced by Barbara Copley who served until 2008. John Hooper then took over as the president until 2011 when Malcomb Thomas took over. In 2018, Malcom Thomas Stood down as president and James Linnett was accepted in as the new and current serving President of the BGA.
Barbara Copley is currently our treasure, but she is handing over the role to Richard Butler who will be fully in place in May 2020.
Ian Hewitson is currently serving as the BGA secretary.