Minutes of the 2020 Annual General Meeting held by previously contacting Members individually on-line and/or by telephone. For the sake of good order, these Minutes are dated 11th November 2020.
A.CHAIRMAN’S OPENING REMARKS: You are all aware that 2020 has been an unprecedented year. Although the RBL has waived the rules that require us to conduct an AGM this year, we thought we would try to do so. Therefore, towards the end of last month, we contacted everyone by e-mail, and where you are not on-line, by hard copy through your door. We also endeavoured to telephone you. By doing that we hope we have given you the gist of this, effectively this year’s “meeting”, and the opportunity to contribute if you wished to do so. That opportunity is still open to you because these Minutes are required to be accepted at the next AGM. So, if you feel the need to challenge, amend or add anything, you can still do that by contacting one of your Committee Members.
A.1 The Act of Remembrance 2020: Each Member Remembered in their own way. Some stood in their doorways at home and observed the two-minutes silence. Some passed by their War Memorials during their permitted daily exercise and paused there, and some showed their feelings by decorating their windows with poppies. We were particularly pleased to see our children being conscientiously led by their elders at Schools and in Beavers, Cubs and Scouts, all of whom kept-up the Remembrancetide traditions in their own innovative ways - see Poppy Appeal.
A.3. Members “Present” - that's every one of you. Unusually this year, by the aforementioned means, we were able to involve everyone. Normally we have about a dozen attendees. This year we hope we got to all those, and also all those who couldn’t otherwise be with us at those gatherings, so, maybe this could be a glimpse of a future way to do this, thereby involving you all?
A.4 Minutes of the last Annual General Meeting of 4th November 2019: Almost twelve months ago you all had a copy of last year’s AGM’s Minutes. As there has been no feedback about those not already dealt with through the year, they are now accepted as a true and accurate record of those proceedings and have been signed-off as such by our Chairman.
B. MATTERS ARISING: There were no other matters arising from the last AGM that need further discussion.
C. OTHER MATTERS:
C.1 2020 National Conference: We had no motions to be submitted and we did not take part in this year's National Conference, which was a “virtual” event. To the uninitiated, that meant participants were sitting in front of a computer somewhere and were linked by video and/or audio – like a video telephone call. However, if you are interested, and 'connected', as they say in these technical times, you will have received a Web link from us that gave you access to the video recording of that conference, which you could still look at if you wish.
C.2 County Conference Next Year? This is due to be held on 16th January 2021. It is of course possible that it will also be a “virtual” affair. As for the last County Conference on 11/01/2020, Chris, Joy and Alan attended and as requested by the Branch, we did protest about the closure of the Respite Centres and Handy Van Service but to no avail.
C.3 President’s and Chairman’s Combined Address: You have all received a hard copy of our two Newsletters to date, one in February, and one last month. Those (really a paper copy of our Web site) gave details of everything we've done this past eighteen months, which relates all that would have been said under this item. For the future, we can only hope we can meet again soon
C.3.1 In the last twelve months we have lost two of our most faithful Members, Russ Mallace and Vernon Hurst. Russ passed away just over a year ago and is sorely missed however, we hope that he would have been pleased with our progress during this extremely difficult year. Vernon followed him this spring. Vernon was one of those who, for any occasion, you could rely on for his participation and/or contribution; he too is very much missed by all.
C.4 Secretary’s Report: Apart from the wealth of advice, sometimes contradictory, about Covid-19, we have had little other official correspondence that we need bother you all with this year. We did apply to Highways for a Road Closure Notice for Remembrance Sunday, only to subsequently be told by the RBL that we were no longer allowed to do that. Apparently from now on, only public bodies like the Parish Council can organise parades and the like. We’ll see what next year brings.
C.5 Election of officers: Our President, John Russell BEM, our Chairman, Chris Kiley, our Treasurer David Bradshaw and our Secretary Alan Bailey have all agreed to continue in their roles, therefore voting for them is not necessary. However, Alan has given notice that for age related and other personal reasons, on or before the end of October 2021, he wishes to stand down and hand-over the Secretary’s job to a younger person. As planned, Joy Rees has stood down as Vice Chairman, so there's another vacancy but whilst desirable, the Vice Chair, unlike the Secretary, isn't an official position that's essential for keeping the Branch in operation. And Terry Hoyle is moving to Colchester, so yet another change is being made. Therefore, the current situation with your committee is as follows:
Office Elected or retained
President John Russell B.E.M.
Chairman Chris Kiely
Vice Chairman To be appointed
Secretary Alan Bailey (see Note below)
Treasurer David Bradshaw
Membership Secretary Graham Pattenden
Recruiting Officer Graham Pattenden
Branch Community Support Reps. To be confirmed
Poppy Appeal Organiser Tom Smith
Parade Marshall John Russell B.E.M.
Standard Bearer Danny Fewins (took over from Chris October 2020)
Deputy Standard Bearer Yet to be appointed – volunteer required
Byfield War Memorial keepers Not appointed as this is the responsibility of Byfield Parish Council
Others as required Yet to be nominated
Chaplain To be appointed: Byfield is currently in an interregnum.
Web Site & Social media Bob Cubit
Publicity (writing only)* Caroline Crewe
Village Hall Representative David Bradshaw
Flag Officer (Byfield only) Rob Crewe
Deputy Flag Officer (Byfield only) Yet to be appointed – volunteer required.
Note: As discussed, Alan Bailey has given notice that he wishes to step aside by this time next year. We do need a Secretary to replace him. If no one steps-up to take his place by this time next year, the Branch’s administration will be taken over by Northant’s County RBL. If after a period (to be determined) a Secretary isn’t found, the Branch will have to close!
*Caroline is willing to write articles for us but she will need to be fed material to work with. She will not act as a 'reporter', just a scribe for things like the entries in The Byword, Eydon Village News, Woodford Signpost etc.
D. TREASURERS REPORT:
Our books had been signed off as satisfactory for the last financial year, as usual by John Freeman, with a healthy current Account and even healthier investment in the Branch Fund Initiative. This allowed our biannual cheques, each for £500 to be been sent to the Battle Back Centre and Galanos House, the Galanos one specifically towards the garden for its new “Hub”. Although we can be specific with regard to Galanos House, cheques to Battle Back now have to me made-out to the RBL. This begs the question, will the Battle Back benefit from our specific donation? Alan has asked Battle Back to comment and will advise about their response later.
For this financial year, which began on 1st July 2020, the interest rate on the BFI has reduced from 2.0% to 0.5%. Note that the BFI is available to us should it be necessary. Withdrawal of any sum greater than £1,000 needs approval by the County Chairman but there is no limit to the number of times less can be drawn, up to the balance.
On the proposal of Chris Kiely, and seconded by Alan Bailey the Accounts were unanimously adopted, and David Bradshaw is thanked again for his hard work as Treasurer.
D.1 Branch Administration Fee. It was proposed by the Chairman that we follow previous practice and not impose any Branch Administration Fee and, seconded by Terry Hoyle, this was accepted.
D.2 It was agreed, as usual, to make a donation of £50 to Byfield’s Byword
D.3 It was also agreed to pay the DACT Annual Affiliation Fee of £30
E. POPPY APPEAL REPORT: Our new PAO Tom Smith has commenced this year’s (2020/21) Poppy Appeal under very difficult circumstances. He has certainly been baptised by fire. Because of the Covid-19 crisis, there was no door to door sales this year but after an initial ban, static boxes in pubs and shops were allowed. Wreathes and wooden crosses were available but because the RBL's Poppy Factory and warehouse had been closed, our stock of poppies could not be replenished. Our Beavers, Cubs and Scouts therefore took all the old wreaths from War memorials and wove those into posies and displays to sell, making a significant contribution to the PA.
Tom wrote to all those who usually lead the collections around our District, fully explaining how this year’s appeal was affected and how it was to be conducted.
Because 2018 was an exceptional year for donations, probably because of all the centennial celebrations going-on, this last years (2019/20) were expected to be down, then Covid hit to make things worse. Even so, we managed to bank well over nine thousand pounds. Due to the changeover of PAO the final count has yet to be confirmed but we’ll advise you of that soon.
F. BRANCH COMMUNITY SUPPORT REPORT: Members have been prevented by the pandemic in making home and hospital visits when needed. However, we have now expanded our “ringaround” scheme to include all Members, not just those over the age of 80. From that we can report that thankfully, apart from the aches, pains and ailments of advancing age, our Members seem to be coping well with these strange times we are living in. By this medium we do however remind you all, that your Committee and colleagues are here to help if you need it; there’s no harm, or stigma in asking.
G. MEMBERSHIP: Our Membership remains stable at 71. Unfortunately, we lost a member this year (and not to the grim reaper) but he was replaced only this week by another, who had lapsed but has now returned to us. Of course, this year we were unable to attend face-to-face Fêtes and fundraisers, which after trying everything else has proved to be the only real way to recruit. The dreaded Covid put paid to all that, and to our annual BBQ, and Quiz, which was most unfortunate.
Theoretically we have also lost Culworth and Moreton Pinkney from our District to Wappenham, due to RBL Northant's County re-drawing the map but nobody seems to have progressed that, so at the moment, we are still “looking after” those villages.
H. ANY OTHER BUSINESS:
H.1 Byfield War Memorial’s refurbishment: At Les’s suggestion, we investigated repainting the names on Byfield’s now 100-year old War Memorial. However, that’s turned-out to be a bigger job than expected. Some carving has eroded and needs chiselling out by a professional first. We do intend to get that done after next winter’s frosts and we hope to get HS2 to pay for it. They have a fund for such things for villages affected by the new railway’s construction and as Byfield will have to put up with excessive lorry movements, we qualify.
H.2 The Centennial of the British Legion: That’s May next year and needs to be remembered. It has been suggested that we fund a memorial bench SO, funds need to be raised for that and we need somewhere to put it. We need your input for both those tasks.
J. Date and Time of next Annual General Meeting (Covid or other disasters permitting): 8pm Monday 1st November 2021 in Byfield Village Hall’s Meeting Room NN11 6UT.