CHAIRMAN`S REPORT TO THE AGM 2 FEB 2019
In a world of so much change and uncertainty it is pleasing to report that the past year of the Worcester Malvern National Trust Centre has been one of solid achievement and gentle progress
Our core activities of Talks, Outings and Holidays have been the traditional mainstay of both membership enjoyment and fund-raising throughout the year. For this we must thank Rod Pardoe, Talks Organiser; Tony Collins, Trips Organiser and his team (Hazel, Pam, Clive, Karen, Brenda & Margaret). Clive Hooper organises and leads Holiday outings for us. This year the trips were to Sicily and Devon. Thank you Clive for the enjoyment you bring to many and the funds that you raise by doing this. Rod is standing down today from Talks. He obviously has a wealth of experience and has offered his help and support to his successor. I know that you will all join me in thanking him for carrying out this role with quiet diligence and efficiency. I am glad to say that we are not losing Rod entirely as he has kindly offered, subject to election, to fill the role of Vice Chairman, for one year. Despite a difficult personal time, Marina organised and led a sold-out trip to see Nutcracker at the Birmingham Royal Ballet in November, and has scheduled a similar trip to see Beauty and the Beast in February 2019. This will be the last such outing, and grateful thanks are due to Marina for the pleasure she has brought to so many via these visits over the years.
Social Events add to membership value and enjoyment and our Social Team of Karen Collins, Pam Pardoe and Dawn Trevou worked hard and cheerfully behind the scenes to ensure that refreshments at our Talks and gatherings, plus our Social Lunch at the Worcester Golf Club have been such a success. The lunch was especially memorable for the way the Catering Team at the Golf Club, and our own members, responded to a downfall of snow that severely threatened to cancel the day. We also added in an extra River Severn Boat Trip, and a Chairman`s Social this year. Positive feedback has been encouraging so we will hope to build on this in 2019.
As an Association affiliated to the National Trust we must run as per our adopted Constitution. You will all know of many local organisations that increasingly strive to fill the roles of Chair, Secretary, Membership Secretary and Treasurer let alone the many other Committee roles needed to operate a successful society. We were fortunate to run this year with an almost full complement, with just one vacancy for the role of Vice Chairman.
Some of you may have carried out one or more of these stipulated roles in the past, either for our Centre or for other organisations. If you have you will be fully aware of how much we must thank John Hubbard (Treasurer) Janet Bailey (Membership Secretary) and Geoff Cox (Secretary). Throughout the past year they have, along with the committee members mentioned above, given selflessly of their time, knowledge and skill so that we can enjoy being part of our Centre. John is stepping down early in 2019 from the Treasurer`s role after a number of much valued years, but has kindly offered to continue until we can co-opt a new person into the role. We do have someone but there was not enough time to complete due diligence before today. So a huge thanks again to John, who has also indicated that he would still like to carry out some of our background support roles.
A rewarding outcome for our Centre is the allocation of monies that we have either raised, or the distribution of legacies, to National Trust from local members to properties of our choice. Ian Rowat, Clive Hooper and John Hubberd spent time visiting NT properties and meeting their personnel to discuss projects. Depending on the amount of monies for disposal and size of “wish list”, suggestions are produced for approval. Ian Rowat will be talking to us shortly about the past and current year`s progress and proposals. This small team would welcome another one or two to help with this work, a role that is ideal for those who like to get out and about throughout the year visiting NT properties. Please chat to Ian, Clive or John for more information.
You will all have noticed our laptop and projector in action at our Talks – they are the necessary links that enable our Speakers to provide us all with the visual illustrations to accompany these talks. Peter Clement has generously looked after this equipment for some years, but now wishes to stand aside. We need a new person to take on this role of setting up the laptop and projector, and look after the equipment between meetings. We cannot run our Talks without the equipment so please will one or two of you for either volunteer or find someone who will. Otherwise, putting it bluntly, our Talks programme will have to be cancelled.
Apart from carrying out their normal duties, your committee has also found time to discuss and introduce improvements or upgrades for our communications covering Mail Chimp, Face-book, Website and Newsletter. By improving and bettering co-ordination of our contact with membership means we are all better informed and more likely to take part in the many events on offer. Thanks are due to David Sharman who has acted as the focal gathering point of items for the Newsletter and web-site.
To contain costs we produce just two Newsletters a year, and we must try to make them link into our annual timetable for maximum effect. As our Membership Renewal date is October, we propose that our next Newsletter will be posted in September and serve as a Membership reminder. This means that, as we adjust to this slight increase between Newsletter dates this year, we must use our Mail Chimp to keep you up to date with Talks, Trips (or places left on them) and Holidays (or again, places left)
Our Email address list is now over 250 strong, and those of you who are on that list have agreed for us to contact you that way. However, whenever we send an email approximately 100 of participants do not open them. WHY? This is so frustrating for your committee who go to considerable lengths to organise events for you- we cannot afford to print extra publications and postage out of the very meagre £7 membership fee. PLEASE OPEN YOUR EMAILS which are free to us and you, or you may well miss out on extra trips and social events.
Your committee took the innovative step earlier this year to enlist the help of some young local mothers to form a Focus Group that could examine possible new directions for our Centre. Young families do not have the free time to take part in all of our traditional activities and we have tasked them to identify ways that could benefit both our National Trust Centre and their own family lives. We will share more of this as things develop.
So, in summary, a successful year, one of solid achievement, but also with an eye to the future for both existing and hoped-for new members.
I would like to offer my personal thanks to all of the committee and volunteers for their much valued support, and also to all of you who have attended today and throughout the year. Hopefully you will continue to support our Talks, Trips, Holidays and Socials throughout the coming year and share the good news with your friends. We are always open to new members.
Before we move on to the next part of today`s agenda, I would like to call on our President, Lady Morrison, to make a presentation to Marina Riley, Dawn Trevou, John Hubberd and Rod Pardoe, as a token of our thanks for their selfless commitment and time over the past years. Would Marina, Dawn, John & Rod kindly step forward
Finally, I would like, on behalf of us all, to thank Lady Morrison for not only being our President, but also quietly supporting us whenever possible, throughout the year.
LETTER FROM THE CHAIRMAN
Tempus Fugit! I am already in the second half of this year as your Chairman, and, as many of us frequently ask each other, “just where does time go?” Your WMNT Centre team have been busy!
Firstly, I would like to wish a Happy and Healthy 2019 to you, your families and those you love. It has been rewarding to meet so many of you at our talks and socials and learn at first hand the value you place on being part of the Worcester/Malvern National Trust Centre.
It was a great pleasure to welcome our President, The Honourable Lady Morrison to our Chairman`s Social Evening on Friday the 30thNovember. We were also pleased to see Croome Court trustees and representatives from some of our local National Trust properties, other local National Trust Centres, Friends of Croome and many more. We were at maximum capacity and enjoyed drinks and canapés in the lovely setting of Elmslie House. This was a new style of event for us; please let committee members know if you a) thought this was a success and b) whether you would like to see more of this type of activity. Our thanks go to Anna and Bernard Taylor for allowing us to use their delightful venue.
Quite apart from our Main Meetings, I have also attended those of the Outings and Talks Committees. I have to say that these really are the boiler room of our organisation. Identifying subjects for talks or places to visit or vacation is done with considerable skill and attention to detail. From discussion and research, to booking, administration, leading and reporting back, all is done with diligence and good humour. There is always room for some extra help with this integral part of our Centre – please have a chat to anyone on the Outings and Talks teams listed on other pages and consider adding a little of your time to their work- you would be made very welcome and joining some lovely people in a very rewarding role.
Janet Bailey, our Membership Secretary, has been tasked with an extra work-load this year. Our Centre, along with many other organisations, has been faced with the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). Somehow Janet has managed to fit this in alongside her routine work of membership renewals and new membership data and much more. We are indebted to her for her skills, patience, humour and valuable time. Janet has intimated that she would welcome an understudy to prepare for a role handover at some mutual time in the future.
As we know, a problem shared is a problem on its way to being solved. This year a number of neighbouring Centres have elected to meet and discuss the issues and opportunities facing National Trust Centres; how to share solutions and perhaps also examine ways of working together for events, trips, talks and more. This is still in its infancy, but the goodwill and desire to move forward with this is hugely encouraging.
At the start of the year we decided to review our own systems as a necessary part of how best to support our traditional programme whilst addressing new opportunities and directions. This led us to recognise that we could do much more with our communication to members. As a result, we have successfully introduced “Mailchimp” (a free to use group email system), which on a monthly basis will allow us to bridge the information gap between our twice yearly Newsletters. For example, we can keep members informed of places still available on trips and holidays. You will also (hopefully!) have noticed that this Newsletter is now in a more attractive colour format with extra content. We have recently introduced Facebook. Whilst some of our current membership may not use Social Media, it will be relevant to many of our families and the younger demographic that we will need to reach out to in the future. If you do use Facebook, then please search for Worcester Malvern National Trust Centre and Like/Share in the usual way, especially with your own younger family members. We are already moving towards our first 100 followers. On a final note, please visit our website, www.worcestermalvernntcentre.org.uk . There you will find details of our forthcoming talks and trips, recent news updates, reports and photographs of past trips and events as we continue to develop this useful information channel. Thanks are due to David Sharman for helping us to collate material for our newsletter and update our website.
Part of our debate has been the need to examine what our membership currently offers and whether this will attract our own and other young families to join us in the future. Clearly this time-pressed generation with young children are not able to take part in our traditional talks, outings and holidays. Earlier this year we invited some young mothers to a meeting at Croome Court to seek their views on what they might wish to take part in. It was clear that they would like to be involved, that they all know and love National Trust, and would like to join and be part of large family-style events and days. This is early days, but we have identified a young group who are keen and willing to help us progress this discussion and we are all hoping to expand this theme in 2019. If any of your own family are local and might wish to support this initiative then please email me details. Many hands make light work.
On a sad note, two of the very best examples of selfless voluntary work for our Centre died earlier this year. Diana Hopkin-Morgan and Peter Riley were both extremely generous with their time, skill, knowledge and so much more. Both were admired, respected and loved and they will be greatly missed. Sheila Collis and Peter Clement have provided more background on later pages.
Like many organisations we depend on volunteers, and often we have to appeal for replacements as serving officers and committee members step down. This year our Treasurer, John Hubbard and Talks Organiser, Rod Pardoe are stepping down, both after much valued service and input. I am delighted to report that two people have indicated that they are happy to put their names forward for election at our AGM. I am also delighted that both John and Rod have indicated that they will still carry out some background (but very necessary) roles.
As this is the last main communication prior to our AGM (to be held at Powick Village Hall on 2nd February 2019) I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge everyone on our main committee for steering me through this year. They have done this with sound advice, hard work, pragmatic decisions and humour. Thank you.
Please read on and make a note in your diaries of our Talks, Trips and Holidays. Keep this Newsletter in a place of safety as a handy reference for dates & contact numbers plus booking forms. You will notice that you can cut out relevant booking forms, but if you wish to keep this newsletter intact then a photo-copy of the form is acceptable.
Finally, this is your Centre and you have a voice. We really would welcome your ideas for future trips, talks, events or indeed anything that could help us expand our horizons! Do tell us if we are getting things right or wrong. Please feel free to write or telephone anyone of us on the main committee – our contact points are at the front of this newsletter.
I look forward to sharing time with you at whatever events you can attend, and I hope to see many of you at our AGM on 2nd February 2019 and throughout the year ahead.
LETTER FROM THE CHAIRMAN
I would like to start this, my first Chairmans letter, by offering a huge thank you to everyone that I have met so far in my new role. You have all given my wife Felicity and myself a really warm welcome to the fold. I have encountered massive encouragement and goodwill, nowhere more so than the Committee, and I feel sure that this bodes well for ensuring a fruitful and rewarding future for our Centre.
One of my first tasks was to attend a group meeting of fellow Centres at Packwood House. In my conversations with them I became firmly convinced that here at Worcester/Malvern we have a strong and vibrant membership that can continue to go onwards and upwards based on strong foundations.
As a new Chairman I am grateful to have around me a dedicated committee offering experience and advice. Of course, this did not happen by accident, and credit is due not only to the existing team, but also our recently retired Chairman, Sheila Collis, and magnificent contributions from Peter & Marina Riley, Hazel Cartledge, Gill Richardson and all of the others who went before them. As they stand down of course they will be missed, but their legacy will support us as we look to the challenges ahead.
A new Chair offers a time of introspection about our aims and values. We are acutely aware of the challenges faced by virtually all organisations around us. In common with them, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find volunteers for the many roles and tasks that we need to cover for us to exist or operate effectively. In the short term we need to find a new treasurer to take over from John, and a new Vice-Chair to cover my role when I am unable to attend. We would welcome any help you can offer, with any aspect of our Centre, from refreshments at our talks, to organising talks or for leading outings. With almost 500 members, I am convinced we have people who could just do a little something to help, even if only once or twice a year. Every little helps and this is YOUR Centre.
For the longer term, your Committee will seek to not only continue to provide our well-tried format of outings, talks, social events and holiday trips, but also examine how we can respond to the changing world around us.
It is abundantly clear that many organisations, our own included, are facing a large demographic gap. Younger generations have increasingly busy and complex lifestyles, often with very different pressures from our own, and we must learn how to understand this and engage with them accordingly.
Through the National Trust we are successfully preserving our Heritage for future generations to enjoy. What we need to do is find younger team members to join us and share that mantle and that will mean adapting our offering and communication methods to reach out to them in their daily lives
Our Centre has 500 members, and through them they must have many children, grand-children and great grand-children, covering a wide range of ages. Could we ask them what type of Centre would appeal to them or their families, what type of events could bring all generations together. For example, should we hold a couple of family-style days or exclusive events to cover all generations a couple of times a year? We have some fantastic National Trust properties on our doorstep, and they are keen to work with us on this. Please ask and we may discover a new way forward. We are surrounded by lovely bright and engaging youngsters, so let us all find a way that we can enjoy together, thus ensuring a stronger future for our Centre and in turn everyone`s heritage, the National Trust.
A core benefit of Centre membership is shared fellowship. The more often we can meet in convivial surroundings the more we can hope to experience the value of our times together. We have organised a three hour River Severn Cruise starting out from Upton on Severn on the 27th September. You will notice that you are able to invite a non-member to join us and hopefully this will help us to demonstrate the value of Centre membership as well as giving us all a great afternoon out. Please do join us.
With very best wishes for a warm summer and safe travelling for those on the move
I am happy to report that we have had another busy year. The talks programme was well supported and we have found that members seem to prefer daytime meetings in the middle of winter. My thanks to Rod Pardoe for organising such an interesting programme.
As usual, the 10 outings planned for 2017 were booked up very quickly. In 2018 the booking form for any outing arranged after 1st August will be in the July Newsletter, and this is to give any new members who join in say April, May or June the chance to go on an outing. Members who join at this time of year find that all the outings are booked up, and the talks programme has finished for the year, so this is to make it fairer.
My thanks to Peter and Marina Riley, Clive Hooper and Hazel Cartledge for organising the outings for 2017. Sadly this year there will be only 8 outings because the committee are finding it increasingly difficult to find members willing to organise an outing. My thanks to Peter who is now retiring. My thanks too to Hazel Cartledge who is retiring from the main committee but will be organising some outings in 2018. They have both worked tirelessly for our group.
Peter Riley will be giving his final slide show at the AGM. This has been the star attraction for many years, and I think is why we always have a lot of members attending. Thank you Peter for all the enjoyment you have given in so many ways. We will certainly miss your lovely slides, and your witty sense of humour.
Two lovely holidays were organised by Clive Hooper and well supported. The first was to East Sussex and Kent and the second to northern Spain. Both holidays took us to some fascinating and interesting places and a good time was had by all. Many thanks Clive for all your hard work in making sure the holidays are very enjoyable for members.
The Projects Sub-Committee have also had a busy year visiting NT properties in our area. By talking to the House Managers and finding out what their plans are, our committee are building up a good working relationship, and we can follow through their requests and our donations to them, finalising in a presentation by Ian Rowat at the AGM. This helps members to see where the money raised by us has been spent. This year we were also delighted and very surprised to receive a legacy from the Morgan Estate, and we have some plans how some of this money may be spent. Many thanks to Ian Rowat, Clive Hooper and John Hubbard for their work on this committee.
Our membership fluctuates as sadly we lose some members, but others continue to join. A warm welcome to all those who have joined in the past year. Can I please emphasise that the renewal date for subscriptions is 1ST OCTOBER. This has been made clear in every Newsletter for years, but still quite a few members do not pay on the due date. A DECISION HAS BEEN MADE THAT IF A SUBSCRIPTION HAS NOT BEEN PAID BY THE 31ST DECEMBER, THAT MEMBER’S NAME WILL BE DELETED, AND THAT MEANS THAT THAT PERSON WILL NOT RECEIVE THE NEWSLETTER AND WILL NOT BE ABLE TO GO ON OUTINGS, HOLIDAYS OR ATTEND ANY OF THE MEETINGS. PLEASE MAKE IT EASY FOR YOURSELF AND SET UP A STANDING ORDER TO PAY YOUR SUBSCRIPTION ON THE 1ST OCTOBER EACH YEAR.
My thanks to David Sharman for producing the two Newsletters. With regard to our Website, Dave Wardle set up the original one, but it was hacked into and we had to close it down. Dave has been very ill, but I am happy to say that he is now getting better. David Sharman took over trying to set up a new website which the committee feel our support group should have. These things are very complicated and we have decided that professional help is needed, and we are consulting Phil Stokes who understands how to set up a new website so that anyone can understand it. We hope to be able to let you have more details shortly.
We did have a stand at the Autumn Show. Gill Richardson, who has organised the rota for the shows over the last three years will be retiring at the AGM. Many thanks Gill for all you have done both with regard to the shows and producing the refreshments for the talks meetings.
We have a membership of over 550 and we desperately need a new Treasurer. Please will somebody come forward and offer to take on this position. It will be impossible to run our group without one.
I hope you have had a good Christmas, and that you will continue to enjoy your membership of our Group. I too will be retiring at the AGM in February after 3 years as your Chairman which I have enjoyed very much, but I have been on the committee since 2009 helping to organise outings and social events, and I think it is now time to retire. Many thanks for your help and friendship which is much appreciated.
For those of you who were not at the AGM, I want to start by giving you a wonderful piece of news. At the end of January, I heard that one of our past members, Mrs. Marion Donkin Morgan who used to live in Graham Road, Malvern, had bequeathed to our Group the amazing sum of £54,683.95. This is an incredible sum of money and we on the committee will give much thought on how it should be spent. I only wish I could have thanked her personally for her generosity.
During the year our Projects Committee comprising Ian Rowat, Clive Hooper and John Hubbard visited most of the houses in our area to meet the House Managers and discover from them what plans they have. Photographs are taken and then in committee we discuss which projects we can support. This way we build up a good relationship with each Manager which works both ways.
In January we had a superb talk by Roger Smith entitled “Peaks of Achievement”, and we went to the tops of some of the highest mountains in the world. A fascinating talk with beautiful photos. In February after the AGM, Peter Riley gave one of his excellent talks entitled “The Glory of the Garden”, and again we went on a wonderful journey to many NT gardens, all of them delightful in their own way. In March we heard about some of the secrets of Hereford Cathedral, and we finished the season with two members of the Archive team at Baddesley Clinton telling us about the people who had lived in this lovely moated house.
On the social scene, we had another very enjoyable lunch at the Worcestershire Golf Club in April. Our guest speaker, Helen Harding, stood in for her husband and gave a most amusing talk on medieval banqueting, and she brought along a number of interesting objects to illustrate her talk. My thanks to the Social Events committee for organising this excellent event.
We have had outings this year to the Royal Mint in South Wales and were astonished by the numbers of coins produced each day both for this country and 60 other countries. Also produced are medals including all the medals for the 2012 Olympic Games. A fascinating visit. In early May, we went to Woburn Abbey a beautiful home with many lovely paintings, furniture and porcelain, not forgetting all the gold and silver in the basement! Later in May an outing to Attingham Park was much enjoyed by all those who went and had a lovely day there. There was so much to see both inside and outside the house.
My thanks to all those who organise outings which are so enjoyed by the members. Unfortunately the number of those willing to give up some of their spare time to do this has decreased over the years and as a result we do not have as many outings as we used to which is a great pity. Please help if you can.
As Members will know we have had a stand at the Malvern Spring Show for many years. We were therefore surprised to be told this year that we could not have a stand because the organisers were not giving free stands to charities. Naturally we were very disappointed, and hope that we will be given a stand at the Autumn Show in September.
When you read this report we shall have been on the holiday to East Sussex and Kent. The itinerary is excellent, and my thanks to Clive Hooper who will once again be the Tour Leader. The holiday to Northern Spain in September will also visit lots of interesting places and I am looking forward to going to that part of Spain very much. Details of the holidays for 2018 are shown at the back of this Newsletter.
The job of Treasurer is still vacant. We have a membership of over 550 – please will somebody come forward and offer to take on this position.
I hope you will all have a wonderful summer and enjoy the outings and holidays. Thank you for your support without which our Group would not flourish.
I am very sorry to have to start on a sad note, but I have to tell you that our dear Treasurer, Bill Pearce, has passed away and I am sure you will want me through this report to send our deepest sympathy to his wife Jan. He was a lovely person and he said to me he really enjoyed working for our Group. We will miss him very much at the talks and on the outings and holidays, and I would like to place on record my thanks for all his help. John Hubbard, who was our Treasurer before Bill, has very kindly taken over again but on a strictly temporary basis, so I am desperate to find a new Treasurer. Could you do that job for our Group?
Please help if you can.
I am happy to report that we have had another busy year with many enjoyable outings and two lovely holidays to the Scottish Borders and Tuscany and Umbria in Italy. These are excellent ways of meeting other members and making new friends. As I write this report, the holiday to Kent and East Sussex in June next year is already fully booked, but there are spaces on the holiday to northern Spain in September, so please contact Clive Hooper if you are interested in going. My thanks to Clive and Peter and Marina Riley, Hazel Cartledge, and Dorothy Grinnell for giving us so much pleasure on the outings and holidays. Dorothy is now retiring and many thanks to her for all her efforts over many years.
This year 14 outings were organised, but we have been unable to replace Dorothy inspite of trying very hard, and so next year there will only be 10 outings. This is very sad for us on the committee, but if members do not come forward and offer their help, the situation will not improve. Please consider whether you could help with outings, and if you could, contact me.
We have also had a wide range of interesting talks during the year organised by Joan Ainsworth. Joan will be retiring at the AGM in February, and I would like to thank her very much for what she has done for our Support Group. Rod Pardoe will be taking over and we welcome him to the committee. We had a very interesting talk about Stanbrook Abbey at Callow End in November, and the Social Events committee are organising an outing to Stanbrook with a guided tour and refreshments in September 2017. Full details later.
Thank you Gill Richardson for organising the rota for our stand at the Autumn Show in September. If you would like to help on the stand next year in May for the Spring Garden Show, please contact Gill. All volunteers receive free entry to the show in return for being on duty either in the morning or the afternoon. Gill, Karen Collins and Pam Pardoe also organise the refreshments at our talks meetings and my thanks to them too.
The Projects Sub-Committee have been hard at work too visiting NT properties in our area and seeing where the money donated by our Group has been spent. Ian Rowat will be giving a short presentation after the AGM in February.
Our latest membership total is 628 which is excellent, and we recently had 1 person join as a Life Member. A warm welcome to all those who have joined in the past year. I hope you enjoy everything that our Group has to offer. Some members are still not paying the correct amount for their subscription - £7 for an individual, and £3 for each additional member of the household at the same address. Please alter your Banker’s Order if you are not paying the correct amount.
Our Newsletter Editor, David Sharman, had a surprise a few weeks ago when he discovered that our website had been hacked into. Why would anyone want to do that? For the moment the website has been closed down, and David will be investigating starting a new website.
My thanks to you all for your support without which our Group would not flourish. I am looking forward to another enjoyable year and I hope you are too.