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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.

Warm regards

David Ebsworth

 

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

David