Minutes of the Committee Meeting on 24th January 2020 at Joy’s & the General Meeting of 04th February 2020 in Byfield Village Hall’s side annexe.
A. CHAIRMAN’S OPENING REMARKS: Joy chaired the meeting, as Chris was attending a course elsewhere. She welcomed two new members who joined last autumn and were at this meeting, Brian and Danny. Joy also greeted Richard Woodcock, our Speaker for the evening.
A.1 Richard, who cycles the world raising money for Mencap, started the evening by telling us all about “The Mysteries of Easter Island”. And mysterious it was. Who populated it and why did they sow the seeds of their own destruction by carving those huge statues? Richard had some hypotheses, and some answers.
B. MATTERS ARISING FROM PREVIOUS MEETINGS:
B.1 Thank You letter from Battle Back Centre: Joy read extracts from Battle Back’s Chris Joynson’s thank you letter, including a reference to Russ in a most complementary manner. Terry has posted this letter on our Web site and sent a copy of the letter to Russ’s family.
B.1.1 Brian explained he had completed a multi activity course there and was full of praise for the sympathetic and understanding staff at the centre.
B.2 Richard Buck Concert: Alan had written to thank the Buck family and given them a DVD of the performance. Terry has posted details on the web site. The retiring collection raised £210.
B.3 Donation from Russ’ funeral: After a respectable delay, Alan enquired of the donations made at Russ’ funeral, and was told by the funeral directors that it had been sent to RBL Head Office, so we are unlikely to see this at Branch level. Alan felt it polite not to enquire of the sum involved.
B.4 Six Monthly Newsletter: This will be a communication to all Members started by Russ which the Branch wishes to continue. As only 57 members have “opted in” e-mail addresses, the remainder will need delivering either by hand or by post. After much discussion at the Committee Meeting, it was agreed that those with e-mail should also have the newsletter delivered, at least for the first edition. Deliveries would, where practical, be made by hand by members who lived close by. For those ‘far flung’ members, post would be used. Terry will continue to write the newsletter until he moves, probably early in 2021, so we will need to find a volunteer to take over before then. Having seen some very good examples from other Branches, for edition 1, Terry has felt it appropriate to look back one year and issue it in March. He expects this to be seven pages double sided, colour printed. Danny kindly volunteered to get the first edition’s printing done, although other arrangements would be needed later; if we do this bi-annually, subsequent issues are likely to about half that print run. Feedback is also necessary to allow us to judge its success and whether it’s worth continuing.
B.5 County Conference: Alan reported that he, Chris and Joy had attended at County Hall late January.
B.5.1 The War Memorial competition winners for autumn 2019 were External: Thrapston and Internal: Sudborough; John R suggested that we visit them to see how they compare with ours. This will be arranged at a subsequent meeting.
B.5.2 RBL Strategic Review 2019. This included the decision to close the RBL’s Respite Homes and stop the Handy Van service, which has caused so much concern that County put forward a motion that there should be a Resolution a) A vote of no confidence in the Board of Trustees is expressed by this County and that b) a formal complaint of “Bringing the Legion into disrepute” is to be levelled at the Board of Trustees as a corporate body, not individuals. This was agreed unanimously.
B.5.2.1: Since then County have sent a draft letter to all Branches, saying that if we support County on this issue, we should forward this letter in our name to the National Chairman as part of the County campaign against the Strategic Review. This was discussed and the majority agreed it should be sent.
B.6 Standard Bearer: Efforts to find a new Standard Bearer had so far proved unsuccessful, despite a request being made in an RBL article in the Byword, circulated to all e-mail Members, and Chris’ plea at a recent military group meeting in Woodford Halse. If we cannot find a “full-time” replacement for Chris, we will need a Member to volunteer to undergo some basic training to be able to parade the Standard on the occasions when Chris is not available, a position Alan has filled in the past, although health issues may prevent him doing that in the future.
B.6.1 At the Branch Meeting, Danny said he was willing to consider taking-on the task and would talk to Chris about what was required.
B.7 Contact with other local Branches? With County’s recent Branch/District rationalisation (without any prior consultation with the Branches concerned), Byfield has ‘lost’ Culworth and Moreton Pinkney to Wappenhan. However, Culworth school has the same Head Teacher and shares its administration with Boddington, so, with regard to our annual school's competitions, we need Wappenham to “agree” to our continuing the same relationship with Culworth, as before. So far Wappenham has not responded to our advances.
Terry has had a positive response from Banbury’s Chairman with regard to our getting together on occasion.
At the Committee Meeting, Chris agreed to contact his opposite numbers in Daventry and Middleton Chaney, the latter being a new Branch formed last year, with whom Russ was in contact; it was thought they might not even know Russ has passed away.
B.8 2020 Barbecue: This will be early this year, on Sunday 17th May, in Joy’s garden providing she has not already sold her property. If it is not available, then the School field beside the new Hall could be suitable. Terry will speak to the School PTA about this. We discussed whether the event could be linked to possible VE Day celebrations but felt it would be too complicated and detract from what is our second highest fund raising event. Joy will speak to Tim & Lynn to ask if they would be available to cook.
B.9 VE Day Celebrations 8th May: Terry has contacted the other parishes in our District to find out what their plans are, as well as others nearby. So far he has learnt:
. Chipping warden have replied ‘No’ but have said the Church might be arranging something.
. Byfield – nothing, but maybe we could hold a small service at the War Memorial?
. Boddington – will be holding a tea party in their Village Hall on the Friday (8th May)
. Banbury – They will probably have a parade and we could take part if desired.
London – there will be celebrations in London and the RBL will be funding the weekend of 8th to 10th May for up to 750 Veterans still living who took part in WW2, plus one carer or family member. Terry will circulate this by e-mail to see if anyone in our District is interested in attending.
VJ Day is on Saturday 15th August.
B.10 New Royal Charter and Membership Handbook: Both these have been updated. The new Royal Charter can be found on https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/quick-links/the-royal-charter The new Membership Handbook, has been renamed the Membership Management Handbook. It has no changes to the content but removes repetitions and modernises the language. It is available on the RBL Office 365 system that can be accessed by some Branch Officers.
B.11 Training Courses: HQ had now published a list of various management training courses but unfortunately, the only ones easily accessible to us were already fully booked. County sometimes conducts courses of their own but as yet, had not published any.
C. CORRESPONDENCE: There was no relevant correspondence to discuss.
D. FINANCE: In David’s absence due to illness, Alan reported our finances to be satisfactory.
E. WELFARE: 8 visits to sick or elderly Members and other veterans have been reported. Sadly another, a resident of Bell Lodge died last month.
F. POPPY APPEAL: John reported that to date he had banked £9,379.32.
F.1 Graham reminded us that in February '19 (Item H.7) he had commented about other villages benefiting from wreath sponsorship from local businesses and proposed we do the same. Although this idea hadn't been followed-up, he reported that Judd's Garage would be willing to participate. We all agreed that idea should now be progressed.
G. MEMBERSHIP: Remains at 75.
H. ANY OTHER BUSINESS:
H.1 Annual Quiz (November): Bob announced that he was volunteering to prepare the questions for this year’s quiz and was thanked for this.
H.2 Byfield Good Neighbours Scheme: Alison advised this group would be holding an “Info Café” in the Village Hall on 14th May from 1.30 – 4.30 pm and that the Branch had been invited to attend; A number of other charities have also been invited and it was felt it would be beneficial for us to be there.
H.3 Branch report to Byfield’s Annual Parish Meeting: Terry agreed that he will present this in 2020 but not the following years due to his impending move away from the District.
Dates of next meetings:
Committee: Friday 21st February, 10am at Joy’s house.
Branch: Monday 2nd March 8pm in Byfield Village Hall’s Meeting Room.
Lunch: Wednesday 26th February 12.30pm in The Cross Tree, Byfield.
Flag Flying Days:
6th February: Her Majesty’s Accession
19th February: Birthday of the Duke of York
9th March: Commonwealth Day
10th March: Birthday, the Earl of Wessex.