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Berkshire Family Historian
September 1999

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Berkshire Family Historian
Main PageSeptember 1999 contents

Minutes of the 24th Annual General Meeting

Held on Wednesday June 30, 1999 at Prospect Technology College, Reading

The Chairman welcomed everybody to the 24th Annual General Meeting of the Society and informed the Meeting that the AGM will follow the Agenda set out in the March 1999 edition of the Berkshire Family Historian.

1 Apologies for Absence. The following apologies were received: Lady Palmer and Pat Deane.

2 Minutes of the 1998 Annual General Meeting. The Chairman reminded the Meeting that the Minutes of the last AGM had been published in the September, 1998 issue of the Berkshire Family Historian. The Chairman asked the Meeting that the Minutes be accepted as read. This was proposed by Jean Debney and seconded by Sue Bouchard.

3 Matters arising. There were no matters arising.

4 Chairman's Report for 1998-99. The Chairman delivered his report.

Last year I started my report by saying that the Society had two principal assets; you-the members-and the Research Centre and I make no apology for starting this report with the same topics.

The final membership total for the 1998-1999 membership year is 1,611. This compares with 1,523 for last year. Thus, the increase in the membership year on year is 88 members or 5.28%. You may not realise that there is generally a 'wastage' of about 200 members each year representing those people who do not renew their membership of the Society for one reason or another. This means that we actually found about 300 new members this year.

This is a splendid achievement and I would like to thank our Membership Secretaries Dawn Garlick and Margaret Pyle for all their hard work. The Membership Secretaries are the first points of contact with many of our new members. I know that new members raise many queries and we are grateful to Dawn and Margaret for all their hard work.

Members will recall that at last year's AGM Robert Houseman retired from the post of Secretary of the Society. You will not know that Robert has nevertheless continued to manage the membership database and to be responsible for distribution of the Berkshire Family Historian. Robert has informed us that he now wishes to retire completely from working for the Society and his last duty was the distribution of the June Berkshire Family Historian. I would like therefore to thank Robert again for all his hard work for the Society over the years.

I am told that the membership in the Society year 1993-94 was 1,141-so that there has been a growth of 41% over the five years since that time. This is a splendid achievement by all concerned.

One reason for that growth has, of course, been the Research Centre. During the year a total of 1,829 people - members and non-members - visited the Research Centre. The total number of visitors is a little less than last year's total. In some ways this is not unexpected. We were lucky, I think, to open the Research Centre just as the indexes and transcripts of the 1881 Census were being published and there is no doubt that this generated a huge interest. There is, of course, a limit to the number of people in the Census that members can look up and I think that this accounts for the slight reduction in visitors to the Research Centre.

As you all know, at Christmas 1998 we were given notice to quit the Research Centre on 31st July, 1999. The intervening period has been quite traumatic for the Society and for a long time it looked as though we would have difficulty locating new accommodation in time.

However, I am pleased to say that we have now agreed with Reading Borough Council to lease some space in Yeomanry House. Those of you who are-or have been-residents of Reading will already be familiar with the building in Castle Hill at which you register births, deaths and marriages. The new Berkshire Record Office is being built in the grounds of Yeomanry House. Reading's Director of Museums and Archives, Karen Hull, kindly led us to this accommodation. Karen is keen that we should be near to the new Record Office and that we should work closer with the Record Office. The Society has for some time thought that there are ways in which we should co-operate. Since we are soon to share the same site this will now be possible.

The accommodation we are to lease has been completely refurbished as part of the new Record Office project. However, the entrances to our accommodation presently remain behind the Contractor's security fencing.

A fly in the ointment is the cost of the rent for the new premises, which is about double what the Society pays for the rooms here. The Executive Committee and the Research Centre Committee have ideas for increasing the revenue from the new Research Centre. Some of these are mentioned in the Chairman's Notes column of the June Berkshire Family Historian. It remains the case, however, that the prospect of charging members for use of the new Research Centre is very real.

On the other hand, there is one way that you could help. Presently only a small proportion of the membership - something like 150 - have covenanted their subscriptions to the Society. Very briefly, a covenant is a procedure whereby the Inland Revenue refunds to the Society the tax that members have already paid on the cash from which you pay your subscription to the Society.

In the June Berkshire Family Historian you will find the usual membership renewal form but this year you will also find a covenant form. Please do complete it. If the Society were able to recover all the tax that we have paid on our subscriptions, any worries we may have on funding the new Research Centre would evaporate.

And the beauty is that it would not cost any of you a single penny.

Some highlights of the year include:

A second successful Family History Week was held at Maidenhead in conjunction with the Maidenhead Heritage Trust. Some 400 members of the public attended the display and were encouraged to start or continue their family history-and of course, to join the Society. We have been invited to go again in October this year. However, we do need a couple of volunteers to take charge of arranging the display.

In January we were able to form a new, fifth, Branch of the Society in Abingdon called the "Vale of White Horse" Branch. Like many other societies- ourselves included - the origins of the Vale Family History Group can be traced to an evening class whose members decided that they should continue to meet after their formal classes ceased. Wisely, they decided they needed the strength of a larger Society around them and we were pleased when the group decided that they should become a Branch of our Society. Welcome to you all.

We had our Open Day here on 29th May. As I understand it some 500 people attended. I spent some of the day in the Research Centre and it seemed to me that all 500 were in there at the same time. All efforts to persuade people not to enter because the Research Centre was full seemed to be of no avail. We have since had several messages from both exhibitors and visitors thanking us for a good day. I am pleased to say that we made a profit. The Open Day was organised by Jocie McBride and Barry Boulton and I would like to record the Society's thanks for their splendid efforts.

Two stalwart members of the Executive will not be with us next year. Chad Hanna has served the Society well over several years including a period as Chairman of the Society. He is presently our Projects Co-ordinator. Nevertheless, he has now served on the Executive Committee for the full period of five years allowed by the constitution and is not therefore able to seek re-election. Thank you, Chad for all your hard work.

Cliff Debney is retiring from the Executive Committee at this AGM. This is because he became Chairman of the Federation of Family History Societies at its April meeting. This is a demanding job and Cliff feels that he should withdraw from his activities for the Society. Cliff is also a former Chairman of the Society. I think that over the years Cliff has done nearly all the backroom jobs that the Society has to offer. In a mad moment the Executive asked Cliff for a list of his current jobs - we were amazed at the length of the list. Thank you, Cliff we all wish you well with your work for the Federation.

Needless to say, the Society therefore needs volunteers to take over some of Cliffs former jobs. Some of the most important are mentioned in the Chairman's Notes column of the June Berkshire Family Historian.

5 Treasurer's Report for 1998/99. The Treasurer's report for the last financial year was presented to the Annual General Meeting. The Chairman asked the Meeting to approve the audited accounts. This was proposed and seconded and the meeting agreed unanimously.

6 Election of President and Vice-President. The Chairman informed the Meeting that the Executive Committee had invited Lady Palmer, our current President, and Dr. Peter Durrant, our current Vice President, to continue in those posts for the 1999/2000 Year, and they were duly elected.

7 Election of Officers for 1999/2000. The Chairman informed the Meeting that the following nominations were received by the Secretary by the closing date in the last issue of the Berkshire Family Historian:

Society Chairman - Ivan Dickason

Society Treasurer - Ron Dobree

Society Secretary - John Gurnett

As no other nominations were received, they are duly elected to serve as Officers of the Society for 1999/2000.

8 Branch Committee Appointed Ex-officio Members. The Chairman informed the Meeting that the Branch Committees have nominated the following Members to serve as their Representatives on the Executive Committee for 1999/2000. Bracknell -Pauline Wales Newbury -Rick Maynard Reading -Liz Longhurst Slough -Barbara Swiatek

9 Appointment of Executive Committee Members for 1999/2000. The Chairman informed the Meeting that the Secretary had received the following nominations by the closing date in the Berkshire Family Historian: Jocie MacBride and Eddie Spackman. As no other nominations were received they were duly elected to serve on the Executive for 1999/2000.

10 Appointment of Auditor for 1999/2000. The Chairman informed the Meeting that David Muzzlewhite FCA has kindly offered to remain in the role of Auditor of the Society. The Chairman asked the Meeting to approve this appointment. All were in favour.

11 Any other Business. There was no other business.

12 The Chairman closed the meeting.


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updated 10th June 2001