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
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.
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.
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.
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
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."
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
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
All the other items remain pretty much the
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
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
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
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