What a terrible month it has been. I am sure that our hearts go out to anyone affected by flooding and the additional threat of Coronavirus, here and abroad, It is all a timely reminder that mankind can be so helpless when faced with natural phenomenon.
However, life does go on, and here we are at the end of February already. Since our AGM on the 8th February, Wendy Hill led a very successful trip to see the ‘Swan Lake’ ballet in Birmingham on the 20 February. Glowing reports have been received for both the production and Wendy`s organisation. Thank you Wendy.
Our next Talk, which is by Mike Hayes, is titled, "Nothing Like a Good Conspiracy Theory" and is on 10 March at Powick - 7.30pm with refreshments available from 7pm. Look forward to seeing you there.
At our AGM I gave a strong warning about the future of our Centre if more volunteers did not step forward to help with our programme. I am pleased to report that we have had some encouraging response, but it is by no means enough. Many members seem to be afraid of committing themselves. However, most of our roles ask for just a couple of hours a month, yes, a couple of hours a month, and many jobs can be basically done from home.
EXTRA EXTRA EXTRA
Following on from our AGM, one of our members, Alan Bull, has very kindly offered to lead a trip to Hellens, at Much Marcle on Wednesday 16 September. Starting at 10.30 am for a guided tour of the house and free time in the garden, with members providing their own transport. This trip is £10 a head, Please write to Alan Bull, 106 St Andrews Road, Malvern, WR14 3PP, including your cheque to WMNT Centre for tickets you require at £10 and an SAE.
UPDATE FOR OUTING AVAILABILITY
Malmesbury Abbey is full with waiting list
Chavenage House is full with waiting list
Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, plus Jewellery Quarter - 20 places
St Fagans - 12 places
Berrington/Croft Castle - 25 places
Spode Museum - 15 places
National Arboretum - 25 plus places
Surrey/Sussex/London trip is full with waiting lists
The Loire still has two doubles and 7 singles available.
There are still about 10 places available for our Social Lunch and Talk at Worcester Golf and Country Club on Saturday 4 April. Our guest speaker will be the ever-popular Jan Long, whose talk is entitled "Elizabeth Barrett Browning". Please contact Pam Pardoe (or myself) for tickets.
As always, a busy schedule ahead. Do look at the Outings, I feel sure that we all need to get out and about after all this rain.
I look forward to seeing many of you soon.
FEBRUARY 2020 CHAIRMAN'S LETTER AS PUBLISHED IN THE NEWSLETTER
By the time that you read this Newsletter Christmas will be far behind us and a New Decade begun. Let us all wish for good health, happiness and a positive 2020 for our families, friends and fellow members.
2020 will be an exciting and fully charged year, as it marks National Trust`s 125th Anniversary. Wow. Throughout the land there will be a number of Special Events held to celebrate this amazing landmark and we must all keep a lookout for National Trust publications and notices in local newspapers. If we receive any notifications ourselves we will add them to our monthly Email newsletters. You will see a fuller National Trust report in later pages.
Let us all take a moment to reflect on 125 years! I wonder if the founders, Octavia Hill, Hardwicke Rawnsley and Robert Hunter could have dreamt that one day there would be over 6 million members benefitting from their dream and philanthropy?
With over 500 properties under their management and protection, National Trust are, beyond doubt, the Keepers of our nation’s heritage for the benefit of all. Linked to this, National Trust holds a portfolio of seven Unesco World Heritage sites. Our favourite is the Lake District, where we have held a Timeshare in the Langdale Valley for 35 years. We signed up as members there in the early 80`s, and still marvel at the foresight and generosity of Beatrix Potter and her friends that has ensured this beautiful place and others can be enjoyed by all.
Closer to home 2019 has been a good year for our local NT properties, with a record number of visitors recorded, plus steady progress made on restoration and renovation projects. Your committee has received some lovely letters of thanks for the support that WMNT Centre has provided. It is very clear that our efforts are greatly appreciated.
For our Centre, a New Year means a new itinerary of Coach Trips, Talks, Social Events and Holidays. This Newsletter contains details and booking forms. Should you wish to keep your Newsletter intact, then either photocopy the relevant form or send your application on a separate sheet of paper. The coach trips that were organised in 2019 were fully subscribed and it is worth recording that every one of them was on a dry and sunny day! I think our organisers have special access to advance weather forecasts!
Throughout the land, National Trust Supporter Groups work hard to promote the National Trust, raise funds for local projects and share member fellowship. However, many groups are reporting a variety of difficulties such as recruiting new members, finding committee volunteers and fund-raising ideas. WMNT has recently joined a small group of Chairmen from the local (Midland area) Centres with the aim of sharing our problems and hopefully, finding solutions. We hope to hold our first get-together in the first two months of 2020
Clive Hooper is our holiday guru. Each year he organises two trips, one in the UK and one on the Continent and he has provided many of our members with wonderful memories. This year, the first trip is to the Loire Valley in France, (17th to 23rd May) and incorporates visits to great Chateaux and Gardens set against the glorious backdrop of the Loire. Felicity and I spent two weeks there last May and heartily recommend that you take advantage of this opportunity. Clive tells me he has places available in all categories (doubles, twins, singles).
Clive`s second trip is to the Historic Houses and Gardens of Sussex, Surrey & London form the 6th to the 11th September. This trip is fully subscribed but Clive is happy to keep a reserve list, as sometimes members plans go wrong and they have to drop out.
On page 19 of the Newsletter you will see the menu choices for this year’s Lunch. Numbers are restricted so please do not delay – post your form asap.
Wendy Hill has very kindly taken over from Marina Riley to organise a trip to the Birmingham Royal Ballet on 20th February to see Swan Lake. Wendy may still have one or two tickets available (people do have to cancel sometimes) so do call if you would like to join this trip. This is a chance to see a first class production with your friends and fellow members that would be so much more difficult to do on your own.
Pam Pardoe and myself (with support) hope to organise several Social Events/Trips this year. They will usually be for small groups (around 20) to local places of interest where we can share our own transport to keep costs down. We will do our best to announce these projects at our Talks, but please also log on to our monthly emails for further details
Talking about our monthly Newsletter emails (Mailchimp) I would like to reassure you that they are very safe to open. Your email addresses that we hold for this purpose are not stored with your address or telephone number and therefore of no commercial value to third parties. We will never send you an email requesting you to carry out any financial transaction or other dubious request. If in doubt, do not open, but ring one of your committee members.
No Newsletter would be complete without a request for help with our activities. We are currently between Treasurers and urgently need someone to help. “Treasurer” can sound rather daunting, but please let me assure you that this is not the case. Mainly it is a question of simple book-keeping, very light workload and with behind-the-scenes help available at all times. We also need someone to take over from David Sharman, who is stepping down as of our AGM, to act as a collection point for our Newsletter content. With just two Newsletters a year this is a pleasant task that can easily be done at home and even shared with a friend. The role simply collects/collates details of Talks, Trips and Holidays and other articles that are then forwarded “en masse” to me for setting out and printing our Newsletter. So, please, please will someone step forward.
CHAIRMAN’S REPORT JANUARY 2019
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 30th November. 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 July 2018
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