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Berkshire Family Historian
September 2000

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Berkshire Family Historian
Main Page, September 2000 Contents

Minutes of the 25th Annual General Meeting

Held on July 10, 2000 at the Baptist Church, Ock Street, Abingdon

The Chairman welcomed everybody to the 25th Annual General Meeting of the Society and informed the Meeting that the AGM would follow the Agenda set out in the March 2000 edition of the Berkshire Family Historian.

1 Apologies for Absence. The following apologies were received: Lady Palmer, Eddie Spackman, and John Gurnett.

2 Minutes of the 1999 Annual General Meeting. The Chairman reminded the Meeting that the Minutes of the last AGM had been published in the September 1999 issue of the Berkshire Family Historian. The Chairman asked the Meeting that the Minutes be accepted as read. This was proposed by June Dickason and seconded by Ken Marsden.

3 Matters arising. There were no matters arising.

4 Chairman's Report for 1999-2000. It is my very great pleasure this evening to present my third report to you as Chairman of the Society. The Society has this year hit the headlines with our journal Berkshire Family Historian when we won the coveted Elizabeth Simpson Award, presented by the Federation of Family History Societies. The presentation was made at the AGM of the Federation in Bath in April. Our Editor John Gurnett was there to receive this magnificent trophy and the acclaim of all those present.

This brings me to one of the great assets of the Society-our Research Centre. 1 said in my report to you last year that we were about to pack up the library and put it into store. Thankfully, the Research Centre is now open for business. The premises were converted from an empty shell into the new Centre by the efforts of volunteers. Principally by Ed Pearce and his band of helpers who put up the shelving; bv Chad Hanna and Gillian Stevens who put the entire library back on the shelves in good order; and by Sally Pellow who reconstructed the Bookstall. She was, I think, very pleased to have the Bookstall out of her garage. Thank you all for your efforts. 1 must make a special mention of Bill Boyall. Through his good offices, a firm called Blind Date Blinds kindly made vertical and roller blinds for the entire centre completely free of charge. Bill Boyall then fixed them all. Thank you both for your splendid contribution to the centre.

I have mentioned the Library In many ways, a Library is only as good as the books that can be found on the shelves. For that, we have to thank the late Lesley Hanna. Lesley died in February after a short illness. Lesley had been the Society's Librarian for seven years; before that she had been one of the Membership Secretaries from 1987 to 1992 so that she had contributed a great deal to the Society.

Once again, we need to thank our Membership Secretaries Margaret Pyle and Dawn Garlick who so patiently guide a growing number of applicants through the process of becoming members. Dawn Garlick has been one of our Membership Secretaries for some seven years now. She decided that seven years is quite long enough and has retired. Thank you Dawn for vour efforts on behalf of the Society. 1 am pleased to say that Liz Longhurst has agreed to replace her and we wish her well.

The public face of the Society is greatly enhanced by our publications. Our Publications Manager is Jocie MeBride and under her direction, several publications on microfiche have been published by the Society this year. We continued our series of Monumental Inscriptions. The first releases were made in what will hopefully become a complete set of indexes and transcripts of Berkshire Parish Registers. We have released a set of fiche recording the locations of War Memorials in Berkshire together with indexes of the people commemorated on them. We have also released the first instalment - for Thatcham - of the complete indexes and full transcripts of the 1851 Census of Berkshire.

In a few moments, Ron Dobreé will be giving his last report to the Society as Treasurer. At this AGM Ron has to stand down as Treasurer since he has served as a member of the Executive Committee for five years and that is the maximum allowed under the Society's constitution. Ron's wise counsel on all financial matters will be greatly missed. Thank you, Ron for all your work for the Society.

I have mentioned a number of people who have contributed to the running of the Society. There are others in addition to those 1 have mentioned directly: for example, the Branch Committees; the Library Assistants who staff the Research Centre; the members who work on projects; and, of course the members of the Executive Committee. I estimate that, in one way or another, the Society has between l00 and 120 members working for it. Since the members resident in Berkshire are only around 850, this means that about 1 in 8 of you contribute to the Society's affairs. I think it is a splendid achievement that we should have such a large body of helpers.

In conclusion, 1 would like to express my personal thanks, not only to the Executive Committee, but also to all those members who continue to help behind the scenes. Without the contributions made by each and every one of you the Society would not be the success that it is.

5 Treasurer's Report for 1999-2000. This is the final report of my five year tenure as Treasurer of the Society, and the first in which 1 have had to strike a rather gloomy note. Our income was severely affected by the closure of our Research Centre from July last year until April this year. This resulted in the elimination of the income from temporary members, and the fiche printer and caused a large reduction in bookstall sales. At the same time the rent was replaced by a storage charge, which, while necessary to preserve the Society's assets, did not earn any income directly or indirectly.

We have been fortunate to find premises which are just large enough for our current library and for research facilities of a standard that allows proper research to be under-taken, They may also provide a future opportunity of extension. However they are twice the cost of the previous rooms at Prospect School, and also required a large amount of expenditure on security and fitting out. Nevertheless, we do appear more fortunate than the Berkshire Record Office who remain homeless, while Newbury Council fight it out with the builders. Your Executive Committee took the decision that this additional cost had to fall on the Research Centre users, rather than the general membership, and introduced a fee for access to the Research Centre. At the same time it was recognised that the users should expect more for their money, and a lot of effort has gone into extending the information base available to researchers and improving their working conditions.

For the general membership, improvements in presentation of the magazine and in producing new members packs have improved the value for money of the membership fee. While they also won the Elizabeth Simpson Prize, they did not come without an increase of expenditure, some of which should not recur next year. In looking at these figures, one also realises the savings that were achieved in prior years by Robert Houseman in bribing his young family to stuff the envelopes, and by carefully regulating the weight of the magazine. 1 feel that this year the bookstall sales have not reflected properly the efforts that go into dealing with the enquiries. Apart from the effects of the closure, there have been relatively few branch sales, and our attendance at other society open days has suffered. This year has been the worst for many years, despite many new publications of registers and MI records, and the Society has missed the subsidy provided by these sales.

Your Executive Committee felt that it was still premature to make any judgement on the contribution to be expected from the new Research Centre or from the bookstall in its new home. However, 1 must warn that unless there is a contribution from both these areas of activity, the increases in other costs of the Society services to all members will require a subscription increase for the year 2001-2002 - the first increase for at least 6 years. Finally before stepping down may I once again thank all those who have contributed time and effort towards running the finances of the Society. They have been many but I must thank in particular the two Membership Secretaries, Ed Pearce, who maintains the Research Centre records and Sally Pellow and her helpers who maintain the bookstall records. The Accounts were approved by Sid Quartermain and seconded by Chad Hanna.

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 2000-2001 year, and they were duly elected.

7 Election of Officers for 2000-2001. 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 Secretary - John Gurnett
There were no nominations for the post of Society Treasurer.

As no other nominations were received they were duly elected to serve as Officers of the Society for 2000-9001.

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 2000-2001.

Bracknell - Pauline Wales
Newbury - Wendy Maskall
Reading - Liz Longhurst
Vale of White Horse - Ken Marsden
Windsor - Barbara Swiatek

9 Appointment of Executive Committee Members for 2000-2001. As no other nominations had been received the existing Committee members were re-elected.

10 Appointment of Auditor. The present Auditor, David Muzzlewhite, does not wish to remain as Society Auditor. No nominations were received. 11 Any Other Business. There was no other business.
12 The Chairman closed the meeting with an announcement that the next Annual General Meeting will be held at Windsor.


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