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
1 Apologies for Absence. The
following apologies were received: Lady Palmer and
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
11 Any other Business. There was
no other business.
12 The Chairman closed the meeting.