AGM Report

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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), Gillian Reeves (Speakers Secretary), Pauline Anthony (Business/Assistant Secretary), Peter Ely (Groups Co-ordinator), Maria Buckley and Gillian Reeves.

1. GREETING

January 2019 - Thank you all for coming to this, the 27th Annual General meeting of Brentwood U3A.

2. REPORT OF LAST YEAR’S AGM

All members should have received a copy of last year’s report with last month’s issue of the Newsletter.

3. 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 proposer and seconder to approve the report as an accurate account. Thank you. Proposed by Richard Marson, Seconded by Kae Freeman

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

4. CHAIRMAN’S REPORT

With regard to the membership numbers, I think we have now plateaued. It was a while ago when Brentwood U3A was the only branch in the immediate area and we were inundated with requests to join us. This led to the need to set up a waiting list in order to restrict our numbers – around that time we had approximately 340 members. With few people leaving it became obvious that it would be many years before some of the more than 40 people on the waiting list would make their way to the top and be invited to join us. In 2001 the committee invited all those on the waiting list to a special meeting spelling out the likelihood of them joining Brentwood U3A and urging them to form a new branch. From that meeting Shenfield U3A was formed made up mainly of people from our waiting list.

Some years later in 2009 we were faced with the same problem and the process was repeated resulting in the formation of Hutton U3A, again made up mainly of people who had been on our waiting list.

With Warley U3A now making up the fourth branch in the area, there is more choice for those people who wish to belong to a branch of the University or the Third Age.

I am pleased to witness the continuing interchange between all four branches and in particular when it comes to filling seats on outings and evening events. This makes the planning of such occasions a more viable proposition. A win-win situation.

Committee Acknowledgements

As we face the New Year, I would like to express my appreciation of those assembled here – my committee, or should I say your committee.

Kath has continued her meticulous work keeping a watchful eye over us while in the process of being our Secretary, carefully recording the minutes of our meetings and ensuring that the Newsletter is sent out to those not having access to the internet and living outside the area.

Pauline, our Business Secretary, every week sorts through the numerous pieces of mail from the U3A Trust that land on her doormat, creating short précis for inclusion in the Newsletter and placing some on the notice boards which she maintains each month. She also assists when required, in monitoring the register or as I call it the tick list, as well as being the minute-taker when Kath is absent.

Ray, our Treasurer, continues to keep a tight hold on the purse strings and will give a brief rundown shortly.

Christine, as our Membership Secretary monitors the comings and goings of members keeping an up-to-date list of their contact details. She also combines with Kath in managing the Tick List greeting members with a cheery smile and a current copy of the Newsletter. At this time of the year she is kept busy as membership renewals come in – as well as reminding those whose memory it may have slipped that payment is due.

Gill who though she didn’t have an official title has rendered invaluable assistance with managing the lists for the various social events that have taken place during the year and has even managed the tick list. I am very pleased to say that she is now our speakers secretary, and I look forward to working with her. As you will doubtless be aware Gill has taken over from Diane Bonny who last year continued to surprise us with the results of her searches to find suitable candidates for this important part of our monthly meetings. She has been providing this "service" since January 1997 and on behalf of all members I would like to record our gratitude to her for introducing us to so many interesting speakers. A ripple perhaps?

The list of speakers for 2018 was varied and included in February, Ian Mercer who spoke about London Peculiars and the oddities seen along a bus route through central London. In March, Carol and Steve Robson gave a musical presentation consisting of some stormy stories and tragic tales.

Ian Keable in April gave an illustrated talk entitled "George Cruickshank: the Man who drew Oliver Twist." In May the title of Janet Ford’s talk was "What the Dickens," while making a welcome return in June (accompanied by his guide dog), blind para-Olympian, Mike Brace delivered a very amusing talk about a serious matter. Peppered with very amusing anecdotes, he revealed his thoughts in his talk entitled "It's Ability that Counts." In July, Karen Bowman, with seven mannequins displaying various styles of English fashion, herself looking stunning in a Tudor-style dress, revealed some intimate secrets in a talk entitled "Outrageous Fashions through the History of Times." September’s talk, with musical accompaniment by the Rev Chris Bishop was entitled "Short Songs and Tall Stories." In October Rosie Llewellyn-Jones told of the search for our ancestor’s graves in South Asia, while final talk of the year, in November, came from regular favourite Paula Short who told of the "Chanson singers" – Aznavour, Piaf, and Mistinguett.

Continuing with our members of the committee, Peter, our Groups Co-ordinator, has always been on hand to assist with setting up any new Groups, while Maria has taken on the role of Meeter and Greeter, a function I believe to which she is admirably suited. She is also willing to lend a hand with some of the details regarding social activities.

All-in-all a great team ladies and gentlemen, I am very grateful to them all. Another ripple perhaps?

And so we turn to the backbone of Brentwood U3A – the Convenors. It would be difficult to calculate how much of their time is devoted to running their Groups. As well as their time, there are the hidden expenses, even more difficult to assess. In October last year we had the annual afternoon tea for those who help to keep the wheels turning. Whilst I am aware that they are all content to carry on with the great work they do unrewarded, however, in line with the U3A Trust’s guidance for Convenors, the staging of a thank you of some sort, to indicate the gratitude of the members who benefit by their devotion, is recommended. So much goes on behind the scenes – the planning, the research, the preparation, the giving up of their homes all of which takes time and effort, and of course devotion.

Other unsung heroes are those members who are always willing to help out, from the regular helpers who put out the chairs to those that help to put them back and who make the running of Brentwood U3A so much easier. Among these are Peter Bennett who come rain, hail or shine is found helping members park their cars to maximize the space available in the car park.

Finally, I would like to thank one other group. This consists of the people who give us a reason to turn up each month here in the hall, who justify the existence of the Convenors, and support the efforts of others. I am not sure if you can guess who I am talking about. Well wonder no more, the people I am referring to are your good selves. Your support is essential and much appreciated. Another ripple?

Social news

The first social event of 2018 was the Annual Dinner at the Bentley Golf Club, when just short of 60 members braved miserable drizzly weather. Unknown at the time, this was the last of its kind. Following a question by a member who asked why the annual dinner was planned each year for January, when the nights were dark and the weather usually inclement, it was decided to change the "format". This year the Annual Dinner will become an Annual Lunch, and will be held at Ashwells Sports and Country Club in five day’s time, with the Annual Dinner being scheduled for the summer.

The lack of a Social Secretary has reflected badly on the number of Social Events that have been organised during this year. In April, ten teams took part in a Quiz Night at the Shenfield Parish Hall (including one from Shenfield U3A, who incidentally came out the winners). During the last week of May I had arranged a five-day holiday to Eastbourne for 43 members. Taken by coach with local pick-ups we were transported to an hotel on the seafront, where everybody seemed to have enjoyed a pleasant five days. Places of interest visited were "Batemans" the home of Rudyard Kipling, "Charleston" one-time home of the Bloomsbury Group, and "Great Dixter" a beautiful old house, the gardens of which are internationally renowned.

In July the first Annual Summer Dinner was held at Ashwells Sports and Country Club. Members enjoyed a two-course meal in very pleasant surroundings and the general opinion was that the venue could be used again.

August was the month for the annual pilgrimage to Southwold. Once again this popular event was oversubscribed, with lunch en route at the Froize in Chillesford living up to expectations. Forty-nine members took part, and following lunch journeyed on to Southwold where there was time for a stroll around this quaint seaside town before taking in the five o’clock performance of a Ray Cooney play ("Funny Money"). Homeward bound and with a traditional supper snack, the party arrived back in Brentwood around 10.30 pm.

In October, I booked a cruise on the Thames aboard a ship that sailed up-river from Maidenhead. The theme of this was entitled "The homes of the rich and famous." This was a three-hour cruise with commentary and a pleasant lunch. The weather was acceptable with welcome sunny intervals.

The final social event for the year, Afternoon Tea, was also scheduled for October and 48 people attended a pleasant afternoon tea provided by the Jeans Catering Service – the people that have catered for us several times in the past. Fiona Agassiz, a member of Diana Davis’s Play reading Group, provided a short interlude performing a brief reading of a play by Victoria Wood. A stage was set up in the hall and the two ladies were warmly received.

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. 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. Some of the Groups within the four local branches of the U3A offer places to members other than their own.

5. FINANCIAL REPORT

Thankfully not too much to tell you about this time, but I can report that mainly due to our Chairman acting again as Social Secretary, we have a profit on the year of £300. And, as has been said previously, if there is anyone out there with ideas for trips, is willing to arrange one, or wants to take on the Social Secretary role, then please contact any of the Committee.

You will see from the subscriptions that our member numbers are down again, and without the surplus from our Social Events we would have run at a small loss. Hopefully our numbers will pick up again soon, however, with our large cash reserves we can keep operating at these levels for many years yet.

All of the other numbers remain pretty much the same.

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 now invite any questions

Thank you Ray, May I have a proposer and seconder to adopt this year’s accounts.

Proposed by Doris Kearns, Seconded by Peter Bennett.

6. ELECTION OF OFFICERS

In accordance with our constitution nominations were sought for all committee posts. The deadline for nominations, to be sent to Secretary Kath Jarvis, was December 17th, and Kath has informed me that there were no nominations for any of the posts. I am grateful to all the members of the committee who have agreed to continue to keep the wheels turning for another year. However, there is still a post that needs filling – that of Social Secretary. This post involves arranging social events throughout the year and will have the full support of all members of the committee. Give me a call if you would like to know more about the post of Social Secretary.

7. ANY OTHER BUSINESS

Does anybody have anything they would like to raise under this heading?

8. A MOMENT’S REFLECTION

Two years ago 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 reflect on those members who are no longer with us.

Thank you. That concludes my report. All that remains for me to do is to close this the 27th Annual General Meeting for Brentwood U3A. Thank you all for your continued support. I hope 2019 will, in one way or another, bring some pleasure to all members.

 

Official business ended at 2.35

 

Paul Higgs

Following the business matters of the meeting, we were entertained by Paul Higgs, an extremeley talented musician, who gave a talk entitled "Jazz through 100 years." His talk was very well welcomed by all members with requests for arranging for him to visit us again. (Btran Leith)

 

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