AGM Report

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Report of 26th Annual General Meeting held on Monday, January 15th, 2018

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 Gillian Reeves.

Greetings

"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 input.

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.

Matters arising

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 Freeman.

I will now move on to my report of the past year.

Chairman’ report - 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 concerns.

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.

Committee Acknowledgements

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 shortly.

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 meetings.

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 another year.

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.

Social news

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 still excellent.

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.

Essex Association

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."

Ray’s Financial Report

"Before we get to the numbers, I need to clear up another matter.

I 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 an annual lunch.’

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 Reeves.

Brentnet

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 raise?

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.

Brian Leith

 

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