The meeting was opened at 2.15 pm by Brian Leith
(Chairman, Newsletter Editor and Webmaster). Members of the
Committee present were Ray Tozer (Treasurer), Kath Jarvis
(Secretary), Christine Tozer (Members Secretary), Diane Bonny
(Speakers Secretary), Pauline Anthony (Business/Assistant
Secretary), Peter Ely (Groups Co-ordinator), Maria Buckley and
"Thank you all for coming to this, the 26th
Annual General meeting of Brentwood U3A. May I start with a
short announcement, one that I consider really good news. That
is that we have a new member of the committee - Gillian Reeves
has agreed to being co-opted and I look forward to her energetic
Report of last year’s AGM
All members should have received a copy of last
year’s report with the December issue of the Newsletter, which
also included the Activities List and Calendar, the Trusted
Tradesmen list and most importantly the Membership Renewal form,
which hopefully all members have completed and returned with
their cheques to our Membership Secretary.
Does anybody have any matters they would like to
bring up concerning last year’s report? There being none, may I
ask for a nominee and seconder to approve the report as an
accurate account. Proposer: Alistair Fiddes, seconder: Kar
I will now move on to my report of the past year.
Chariman’ report of 2017
Last year we started with a drop in membership.
There were several reasons for this, among which were the result
of a few members moving out of the area over the 12 months up to
December 2016, which didn’t really become apparent until it was
time for their membership renewal in January 2017. Another
reason can best be illustrated by an email I received in January
last year, from a couple of our more senior members. They had
been active throughout the many, many years they had been
members and their message was quite simple: ‘We are sorry that
we won’t be renewing our membership this year – we are both
heading towards becoming centenarians and find it is not so easy
to get about these days.’ Other members may have held similar
Shortly after joining us a couple of members
decided that Brentwood U3A was not for them, particularly as the
Groups they had hoped to join were full. This is a problem that
has plagued U3A branches down the years, and it would seem that
the only real solution is to start more Groups according to the
demand. Easier said than done, I know, and if there was an easy
solution then there wouldn’t be a problem in the first place. As
has been said many times in the past, anybody thinking of
starting a new Group would receive help and guidance and all
they need do is just approach Peter or any one of the
members of the Committee.
Speaking of which, I would like to register my
gratitude to a great team of committee members who have made the
position of Chairman so much easier.
My thanks to Secretary Kath, who has
carefully recorded the minutes of our meetings with care and
attention, and has managed the registering of members as they
attend the monthly meetings. In this she has been aided by
Pauline who throughout the year has also filtered the reams
of messages that drop onto her mat from the Trust, and forwarded
them to me for inclusion in the Newsletter.
Ray, our Treasurer, has
been diligent in keeping the books and coping with the ins and
outs (literally!) of the balance sheet, copies of which you
should have found on your seats. He will give a brief rundown
New appointee last year, was that of Membership
Secretary, Christine, who has taken on the role with
enthusiasm and energy. Naturally at this time of the year she is
kept very busy with membership renewals and is looking forward
to completing this task. Every year we have the same problem – a
few members who forget to renew, and I feel sure that none of
these are assembled here today! Christine also registers members
at monthly meetings, and like Kath and Pauline, is one of the
first people you meet when you enter the hall at our monthly
The task of Speakers Secretary, never an enviable
one, has continued to be handled by Diane. There were fewer
speakers last year due to a change in the usual format for a
couple of the meetings. The first speaker of 2017, In February,
was Chris Truran who gave a fascinating talk about fingerprints
and DNA. Next was Roger Smith who gave an illustrated talk about
Stow Maries Aerodrome, while in April, Ian Mercer gave us an
interesting talk about the Thames Through Time. May’s talk was
entitled History of Marconi, delivered by Peter Turall. There
being no speakers during June and July and no meeting in August,
at September’s meeting, Linda Pargeter spoke about "Maude" a
Norfolk trading wherry. October saw the return of popular
speaker Paula Short, who spoke about Nepal, its Mountains and
its Men. Final speaker of the year for November, had to pull out
just a few days before the meeting. Fortunately Paula Short was
able to fill in and gave a fascinating insight into Argentina.
As our Groups Co-ordinator, Peter continued to
assist members with issues centred around Group activities, and
though having stepped down from the post of Social Secretary,
Maria continued to be a member of the Committee and when faced
with social activities aided us with her expertise. Thank you
all – a great team – I look forward to working with you for
Stalwarts of our organisation are the Convenors,
who are the very backbone of Brentwood U3A. These members who
weekly or monthly give up their time and in a majority of cases
their homes, plan trips to theatres, outings to local places of
interest and who spend their time in researching topics for
presentation at meetings, richly deserve our gratitude and
perhaps a ripple of appreciation.
As well as those I have mentioned there are those
who throughout the year lend valuable help in the smooth running
of our branch of the U3A. Among these is Parky Peter who through
some of the worst, and the best of the weather, has encouraged
members to park their cars for optimum use of the spaces
available in the car park. There is also a band of helpers who
regularly turn up early at our meetings to put the chairs out
before the start and others who put them away at the close.
There is also a band of members who are always willing to lend a
hand whenever the need arises. I feel a ripple of appreciation
would be appropriate.
There is another important group of people that
go mainly unnoticed and generally unthanked - and that is you,
the members of Brentwood University of the Third Age, without
whom there would be little point in the rest of us doing what we
do. So perhaps you should give yourselves a ripple of
appreciation. Well done to you all.
The first social event of the year was the Annual
Dinner. Seventy plus members enjoyed a two-course meal at the
Bentley Golf club.
The search for a Social Secretary continues, and
to fill the void I arranged a few outings and activities. The
first was a tour of the Royal Opera House. A guide took us
backstage through a labyrinth of corridors revealing some of the
wonders of this magnificent building. Following the end of the
tour we took a short walk to Salieries for lunch at an Italian
restaurant in The Strand. The next event was a Call my bluff
evening. This followed the pattern of the popular television
programme and I am grateful to Janis Owen, Mike Jennings and
Gill Reeves who took on the roles of panelists. This was an
evening of light-hearted nose-growing and I was pleased to
welcome representatives from Shenfield and Warley U3As.
In June the fruition of an event that I had
planned nearly 12 months previously, was for 47 members who
enjoyed a mainly dry four days in Llandrindod Wells, Wales. In
addition to two days touring the beautiful countryside in
mid-Wales, I booked seats on an old steam train for an hour-long
journey that started from a small area named the Devils Bridge.
The train took us through some stunning scenery on its way to
our destination, Aberystwyth. All in all the break went well,
but I think the star of the weekend was our driver who couldn’t
have been more considerate, always parking his coach as close to
the venues as he possibly could to save a lot of walking.
Earlier in the year I was asked if the annual
pilgrimage to Southwold would be likely to take place. In July I
arranged the usual format – lunch at the Froize followed by an
amusing play - "Murder Weapon" by Brian Clements, the creator of
The Avengers (remember John Steed?).
In place of the monthly meeting in August (the
hall was closed for its annual refurbishment), I had booked a
cruise with lunch on one of the Thames barges that sail out of
Maldon. I was very pleased that this turned out to be an
enjoyable experience and the bargeman’s lunch – similar to a
ploughman’s, followed with blackberry and apple crumble and
cream, was very well received. Though the day was damp to start,
by the time we got to Maldon the roads were dry and stayed that
way for the rest of the day.
During September members enjoyed a day out to the
Poppy Factory in Richmond, followed by a visit to Syon Park. I
am grateful to Richard Marson who put together the nuts and
bolts of this fascinating visit, and it was a pity that the
weight of London’s traffic made both journeys very difficult.
In October 69 members welcomed 19 songsters who
made up the Essex Chordsmen, a group of men who sing a cappella.
This is the third time that we have been entertained by these
men who presented a programme of songs old and new in beautiful
four-part harmonies. A fish, or chicken and chips supper rounded
off an evening of pure entertainment.
Final Brentwood U3A event of the year, in
November, was a visit to The Pipe of Port, a wine bar in
Southend. Twenty members, the maximum number allowed for private
dining were taken by coach to this quirky candle-lit restaurant
set in the basement with a sawdust-strewn stone floor. It was 11
years since our members had visited this popular restaurant and
I was pleased to note that the standard of food and service was
On 11th November, I arranged for 25 of our
members to join others from Shenfield and Warley U3As for a
coach trip into London, where we joined The Pride of London a
pleasure craft that joined a flotilla of ships attending the
fireworks display on the Thames to celebrate the election of the
new Lord Mayor of London. Like the journeys to the Poppy Factory
we encountered really heavy traffic, the journey each way taking
two hours. In spite of this all who attended this evening event
said how much they enjoyed the whole evening. The standard of
food and service on board the ship were of a high standard.
Since its inception, past Brentwood U3A
committees have decided not to be a part of this association of
Essex U3As. Once again, the current decision was taken by the
committee recently to continue as non-members."
Next on the agenda is
Ray’s Financial Report
"Before we get to the numbers, I need to clear up
recently received comments concerning whether the way in which
we hold our annual Convenors’ event somehow contravenes Charity
rules. Some of these comments mentioned, suggested financial
mis-management and fraud, and as Treasurer and a Trustee I want
to make it clear to members what we do, and why we do it.
The Third Age Trust guidelines, issued to U3A
Committees, concerning Conveners states (and I quote) ‘to
have regular meetings to allow them to communicate with each
other as well as catching up on current issues and future plans.
It is also important to remind them how vital they are to the
U3A. You could consider organising an event to thank them for
all their hard work, such as
I have checked every year-end account and can
confirm that expenses were claimed for a "Conveners’ event" each
year, except possibly one, since 1997.
So, just to be clear, and contrary to what some
members may think, expenses for this event, wherever it’s been
held, have been paid for out of U3A funds.
This Committee decided to expand the event and
invite a few certain other members who also regularly help out
with the running of our U3A.
I hope that this clears up any misunderstandings,
and I am happy to take any questions at the end.
The accounts for 2017 show a small loss of £5,
and with only one extraordinary expense item being the 25th
Birthday event cost of £546.
Our member numbers were down slightly on previous
years, from approximately 330 to just under 300, so you will see
reductions in the Subscriptions, Gift Aid return, and in the
Capitation fees we pay to the Third Age Trust.
I have split out the fees for the Third Age Trust
Magazines from the Postage costs to give a more accurate picture
of our running expenses, reduced the Barclays No 2 (Social
Secretary) a/c to £50, and removed the Membership Secretary £30
float. The reason being that she now lives with the Treasurer.
All the other items remain pretty much the same
Without a Social Secretary, our Chairman Brian
took on the role and arranged various events during the year and
Richard Marson also kindly arranged the Poppy Factory trip. So,
if anyone else has ideas for trips, is willing to arrange one,
or wants to take on the Social Secretary role then please
contact one of the Committee.
The accounts were audited by Mike Lansdell as our
independent examiner and the Committee would like to invite Mike
to continue in the role for this year.
In closing I thank you for your attention, and
invite any questions."
"Thank you Ray. May I have proposer and seconder
to confirm that the balance sheet is a true and accurate state
of Brentwood U3A’s finances.
Proposed by: Mike Jennings, seconded by Bill
You may recall a couple of years ago, our
Committee thought it might be an interesting idea for the
chairmen of each of the local branches of the U3A – Shenfield,
Hutton and Warley to meet together to consider ideas about what
could be done to benefit the members of our respective branches.
I put this to the other Chairmen and it was thought by all that
this could only be a good idea. With another member of each
branch, we meet three times a year and in fact last met in
November. It is basically a talking shop where ideas are
exchanged and views on running our branches discussed. Whilst it
was agreed from the very start that our total independence would
be rigidly adhered to, some areas of integration could be
advantageous. This was mainly in the area where social events
and outings were concerned and where support may be sought to
make up the numbers to fill vacant seats. On several occasions
this has been particularly useful where a possible event was
close to being cancelled, but additional members from the other
branches made it a viable proposition.
A moment’s reflection
At last year’s AGM I introduced a suggestion that
we take a moment or two to reflect on members who have passed
away. This was well received and once again I ask that you take
a minute to remember those members who are no longer with
us.Thank you, that concludes my report.
Any other business
Does anybody have anything they would like to
There being none, all that remains for me to do
is to close this the 26th Annual General Meeting for Brentwood
U3A. Thank you all for your continued support. I hope 2018 will
in one way or other bring some pleasure to all members."
Official business ended at 2.40 pm.
Following the tea break two members of Diana
Davis’s Play Reading Group, Holly Vidler and Fiona Agasiz, gave
an example of the sort of thing that their members did. Using
props (beach chairs), set up at the head of the hall the two
ladies read through a small one-act play entitled: "Shoppers,"
from a collection of one-act plays from a series of books called
Deckchairs, by Jean McConnell.
This was a highly entertaining interlude that
brought the entire February meeting to a close.