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.