MEMBERS PRESENT – 25
1. ACT OF REMEMBRANCE: In the absence of the President the Chairman read out these names: Ian Usher, Alf Sewell, Nick Jones, and Mrs CJ Hare, all Branch members who had passed away in the past year, and recited the Act of Homage.
2. TO CLOSE THE AGENDA: There were no additional items and the Secretary closed the Agenda.
3. CHAIRMAN’S WELCOME AND OPENING REMARKS:
I would like to welcome you all to this year’s AGM and thank you all for making the effort to attend. I know some of you have travelled considerable distance and at significant expense to be with us today. It is sincerely appreciated.
Later in the agenda we will be looking at how we have matched up to the branch objectives which I set out when I took over as Chairman a year ago. One of those objectives was to
Promote more active participation by the broader membership in the business and social activities of the branch.
I believe that the numbers attending this meeting are up on those who have attended our AGM’s in recent years, so I will be delighted to report that we have gone some way to meeting this particular objective.
Your secretary, John Neal and I have spent a lot of time over the last twelve months discussing and planning how we can make attendance in Loughborough at Remembrance Weekend more attractive to the membership. We hope that this new AGM venue and the cheaper and less formal option of the Premier Inn will prove to be a success. One day perhaps we will attract similar numbers to those who attend the Spec Op, Langeleben and Dannenberg reunions. That may be a pipe dream – but we can only try.
I hope this will be an enjoyable and productive meeting. Your committee wants to hear your opinions, please feel free to contribute to any debate at any time. I want to keep it as informal as possible.
When the meeting is over, I hope we can all enjoy a couple of hours together in the bar. Later this evening, those of us who are staying in Loughborough, will be enjoying an informal meal in the Premier Inn and we would be delighted to have as many of you join us as possible.
4. MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING:
The minutes of the previous Annual General Meeting held on Saturday 10th November 2012 had been made available to members attending. The Secretary asked if there were any comments, and as none were forthcoming, he requested they be accepted as a true record. It was:
Proposed by: John Farrell
Seconded by: Bob Oldfield
That the Minutes be accepted as a true record
5. MATTERS ARISING FROM THE PREVIOUS MEETING: There were no matters arising not on the Agenda
6. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE: The Secretary stated she had received apologies from: Terry and Sue Whittles, David, Chris, and James Whimpenny, Carol Armstrong, Tim and Jacky Smith, Brian Alan Thompson, Jennifer Crane, Roy Poulton, Ian Henderson, Peter Benstead, Joan Nicholls, Terry Stanley, John ‘Skip’ Skipper, Dave Hopkins, Clive Sanders, Dennis Underwood, Alistair Roy, Stuart Osborne, Mike Frankish, John Swann, Dave Street, Steve Haynes, John Lymm, Martin and Linda Foster, Bob and Joy White, Ian Neal and Paul Ball.
7. PRESIDENT’S ADDRESS: In the absence of the President who was unable to attend due to his attendance at the Festival of Remembrance, the Chairman read out his address:
Ladies and Gentlemen, they say in all the books on public speaking never start with an apology. However, on this occasion I feel I must, as regrettably I am unable to join you for our annual November gathering for which I am sorry; my absence is due to my commitment as a trustee to host guests at the Festival of Remembrance this evening.
Turning to events of the past year which has been busy for both the Legion and our branch.
Change has continued across the organisation and the way the Legion does its business under “pathway for growth” is now producing results. The National Contact Centre and Knowledge Base are paying dividends and will further improve the long term delivery of welfare.
Welfare is at the heart of all we do as an organisation and Armed Forces Families are as much a part of this as are serving soldiers and veterans; the poppy appeal messaging this year reflects this. To assist service families the Legion are providing adventure breaks for children, the National Independent Inquest Advice Service is supporting family members in relation to service deaths as well as offering practical help and assistance when it is needed. The legion continues to run six residential and respite care homes and improvements are currently planned for several of these facilities. Serving soldiers, sailors and airmen are benefiting hugely from the £50M commitment to the MODs Recovery for wounded injured and sick personnel.
As custodians of Remembrance the legion is a key player in the further development of the National Memorial Arboretum into a national centre for remembrance; and of course the acts of remembrance in Whitehall and around the country, including our own service at St Mary’s, tomorrow and the silence in Trafalgar Square on Monday will keep in the minds of the public the sacrifices made by many over the years in defence of our freedom.
Membership numbers are down once again across the organisation but remain on the up in the National District with the addition of two new branches formed by the Young Professional in the City of London and The South African Ex Services League and I am sure Dennis will tell you that our own numbers have risen this year as last, which was reflected in our collection of second place in the Churchill Shield at Conference this year. Additionally with the introduction of the on line military membership category there are currently over 1500 potential members whose details are held at Haig House who clearly have empathy with the Legion, let’s get the details of those with leanings towards Y Services or who live in our areas and bring them fully into the fold.
From a branch perspective this has been a busy year and very much one to remember. I would like to formally welcome our new chairman and branch secretary to their first AGM in post since their election last year; gentlemen welcome and long may you continue the good work. As many of you will be aware, thanks to the tremendous generosity of Tom Neal and the hard work of members of the JSSU(V) the Y Services plot at the NMA has been refurbished and re-dedicated and I have to say from my visit last month is looking good and no longer the poor relation to those around it, so a sincere thanks to all those concerned. Dennis in his initial thoughts as chairman urged us all to make a big effort this year in terms of fund raising and whilst I do not have the figures to hand, I am confident that this year has seen our biggest ever contribution from the branch to the Poppy Appeal, thank you all and well done.
The branch remains very active in its contribution to the National Branches District with the posts of Chairman and Standard Bearer held by branch members. As founder members of the district organisation I am delighted to see this support continue and look forward to seeing the nomination for our representative to the committee as Bob White’s replacement, whoever that may be I promise you will be in for an interesting journey and one that is fulfilling and not too onerous.
On a personal note my tenure as president comes to an end next year; it is a position that I have been proud and privileged to hold and I thank you all for the tremendous support you have given me over the past nine years. I will remain a loyal member of the branch and as I stand amongst the falling poppies this evening and in Whitehall tomorrow I will be thinking of you all.
With my warmest wishes this Remembrancetide and for the coming year,
8. CHAIRMAN’S REPORT AND OBJECTIVES:
Before I go into detail in my report on our progress this year in respect of our stated objectives, I would like to thank all of the committee for their on-going very positive contribution to the running of our Branch.
We should be particularly grateful to John Neal for taking on the position of Branch Secretary and carrying out his duties so effectively.
Pete Derrick’s efforts with regard to increasing our membership and to ensuring better communications with our existing members have also been outstanding.
Our treasurer, John Farrell, continues to be indispensable to the smooth running of our finances and has even found time to learn the Legion’s new on-line accounting system. Who said you cannot teach an old dog new tricks?
As your new chairman at the end of last year, I was determined to move things forward with regard to the effectiveness of the Branch, so in the Branch Plan for 2013 we set out the following objectives as our priority:
Increase awareness of welfare needs and welfare support available
Promote Comradeship and Communication and a more active participation by the broader membership in the business and social activities of the branch Achieve a 20% increase in Branch Membership
Achieve a 20% increase in funds raised for the Poppy Appeal
So how have we done?
Well I believe we have done all we can on the Welfare Front, bearing in mind that, as a National Branch, we are not permitted to actually deal with welfare cases and have to refer them to the appropriate county representatives where Legion funds are required. We have used our website to report the passing of members of the Y Services community and, on at least one occasion, we have informally contacted the family of a terminally ill ex Y Services soldier to ensure that no welfare intervention was required.
So on the subject of welfare I think we can grade ourselves Very Good
As far as promoting more active participation across the membership is concened, I believe our better use of the existing website and the introduction of a Face Book page has allowed us to get more people involved in our activities. Pete Derrick’s updating of our database and his use of it to keep all our members informed has also been a great success. Thanks again to Pete for his efforts.
I am pleased to report that we have now identified a new Webmaster, Sarah Drummond, a Royal Signals IT professional from Digby. Sarah is in the process of taking over from John Clark and has promised me she will carry out a complete revamp of the site. At this point I will ask John to formally minute our sincere gratitude to John Clark for his contribution as webmaster over many years.
Our summer gathering and Golf tournament at Digby was reasonably well attended and it is hoped that this event will continue to expand. A very early option under consideration is to hold next year’s event in Cheltenham.
So on the subject of Communication and Comradeship I think we can once again grade ourselves Very Good
Our Third Objective was to Achieve a 20% increase in Branch Membership.
With that in mind, I asked specific members of the committee in particular and the broader membership in general to make a special effort to actively recruit new members. I even went so far as to offer to sponsor a trophy for the best recruiter with the proviso that the winner would have recruited at least 10 members.. Now you all know me and you know my tendency for bluntness, but I am obliged to report that the only person who got remotely near winning the trophy was very probably Mister Facebook. He has probably attracted half a dozen new members.
However, it is not all bad news, as you will hear shortly in Pete’s membership report, we have inched forward, but we have got nowhere near a 20% increase.
Our grading for this objective must unfortunately be COULD DO BETTER.
Now I hope I have not ruffled any feathers here. That was not my intention. But hopefully, I have pricked a few consciences and we will see an improvement for next year.
I know that it is difficult to seal the deal, but please let’s make a collective effort to achieve that 20%.
Poppy Appeal Fund Raising
Our final objective was to encourage more people to get actively involved in fundraising activities in order to achieve a 20% increase in our Poppy Appeal contribution.
As you will hear later in Stephanie Harris, our Poppy Appeal Organiser’s report, we have increased this with ease. We have, however, not achieved our sub-objective of getting more people involved in fundraising. Apart from the sterling effort of our President’s army colleague, Kerry Clark - who is not even a member - in the London Marathon, and a very generous donation from Graham and Nikki Barber to commemorate their Ruby Wedding anniversary, it has been down the usual efforts of JSSU(V)in the Lincoln 10km, the church collection and our branch contributions.
I think we can grade ourselves Very Good in respect of this objective, but we should bear in mind that a large chunk of the funds raised came from a non-branch member
a. Secretary: John Neal reported as follows:
Various circulars regarding the Festival of Remembrance, elections of National and District Officers, election of Trustees have been received during the year and actioned accordingly. Highlights are:
Confirmation of Terry Whittle’s election to the post of National Vice-Chairman (in three years he could be National Chairman and if so he will be second from our organisation after John Hawthornthwaite).
Confirmation of David Whimpenny’s election to the Legion’s governing body, the Board of Trustees (some trustees are appointed while others are elected).
Sarah Drummond takes over from John Clark as our Webmaster
John Clark remains the National District’s representative on the Membership Council.
David Street was elected Chairman of the National District earlier this year.
Bob White is not standing for re-election to the National District Committee
A Christmas Newsletter was sent by email and snail mail to some 400 members (we do not have current addresses for the remainder). Attached was a Questionnaire through which the Committee sought the views of the membership in respect of where to hold meetings, social events, and our Remembrance Service. Our thanks to the 3% of members who replied (this is equivalent to a commercial mail-out response). Based on the opinions in the returns, the Committee decided to continue to hold the AGM in the Loughborough area and to continue to support the St Mary’s in the Elms Remembrance Service. Bob White continues to liaise with the Church, Parish Council, and other local interested parties in organising the Service.
Following resignations and re-organisation at Head Office, Lara Dobbie (ex-service person) was appointed as District Secretary in September. She is responsible for administering National District Branches including ours and the Riders, and she is our point of contact for all Branch queries, problems, reports etc..
Shoe Boxes and Parcels for Troops: This initiative was debated by the Board of Trustees in 2010 and Legion policy is not to support it although individuals may of course do so. No Legion money (including Branch funds) may be used. Members may be aware that the parcels tie up valuable transport assets and donations of money can provide more of what is needed as goodies can be purchased local to theatre.
b. Membership: Pete Derrick presented his report:
We have 425 confirmed Members with 4 new or transfer memberships being processed so as at the year end we shall have a confirmed Membership of 429. Since the July 2013 Report, we have lost 8 Members and gained 11 Members.. 363 of our members are male and 66 are female. 420 pay by Direct Debit and 8 by Cash (we have 1 Life Member). Pete concluded by expressing his gratitude to Stephanie Harris for her assistance in solving Membership queries.
c. Welfare: NTR. Welfare matters are dealt with by professional staff
d. Branch Standard Bearer: Tom Neal stated there was nothing to report, with the exception that he had attended the Y Services Arboretum re-dedication in April.
e. National Branches District: David Street, as Chairman of the National Branches District, sent his greetings and submitted a report which was read to the Meeting by the Secretary.
“In terms of District business, one of the main areas we are presently working on is with St James Branch where Sandy Davie is exploring the development of ‘E-Business’ and ‘E-Commerce’, which, if successful, will greatly assist national branches like our own and the way that we run them remotely, especially in terms of secure online voting, donation and joining.
Our numbers have been increased over the last year by the creation of two new national branches, SkillForce, an organisation which is assisting those members of the armed forces who are leaving the services into employment by education and practical support, (the first year of the Legion membership being paid on their behalf) and South African branch who has a membership drawn from South African veterans who have served the Crown.
We have also received a proposal of the formation of a ‘Cyclist’ branch and possibly a ‘Ghurkha’ branch as well.
In terms of ‘Y’ Services, hopefully, I will be welcoming a new member to our committee to represent our Branch after your AGM and look forward to working with whoever that might be.
This may be the last occasion that we receive nominations to the District Committee in this way because Lara wishes to professionalise the District to some degree and adopt the election practices observed in the Legion as a whole.
To that end she is seeking clarification in our bye-laws to reflect this position, which may mean that in future, members of the Committee could come from any branch within the District if nominated and elected.
I bring you my best wishes for the coming year, especially to Dennis, John and Tom, who by now will be conducting their second regular meeting and first AGM in their present roles as Branch Chairman, Secretary and Standard Bearer and hope to see you all in the near future, especially two of you as delegates to our Annual Meeting of District Conference on Saturday the 11th January 2014.
f. Poppy Appeal: In the absence of the Poppy Appeal Organiser, Stephanie Harris, the Secretary read her report and explained the breakdown of figures.
The total which was raised or donated and recorded against the name of our Branch in the Poppy Appeal year ending 30 September 2013 was £1944.36. This figure does not reflect payments made to the Appeal or not yet allocated as raised in our name in respect of the Lincoln 10km and the Kerry Clark Marathon sponsorship. The totals for these activities which are being allocated in the Poppy Appeal year commencing 1 October 2013 currently total £4707.75, but a further £700 has also to be recorded making the total in excess of £7000 since November 2012.
The Secretary added the following points: Each year the Branch considers the amount of money it needs for administration– website, delegates’ costs, room hire etc, and after keeping enough for such purposes we transfer regular amounts to the Poppy Appeal. This way, every one of our members is contributing to the Appeal through the annual £5 subscription we charge for administration. So the more members we have, the more potential income to the Poppy Appeal and, as time erodes the value of the fee - which has been fixed since 1996 – the longer we can maintain the current fee.
The Chairman had mentioned that we tend to rely on the Lincoln 10k, the St Mary’s Church collection, and direct Branch Funds donations to keep our figures up. So we NEED the likes of Kerry’s wonderful Marathon sponsorship efforts and the Barbers’ generous donation in lieu of anniversary presents. Many of us may no longer be able to do marathons, triathlons, etc etc but there are many Fundraising Opportunities where our kith and kin could help out, as well as young service personnel. Examples: The various Marathons, for Bike Riders the annual 465km Pedal to Paris and the Remembrance Ride; your Golf Club could host a Poppy Appeal Classic Golf Day involving perhaps the Seniors or Ladies Section if not the whole Club?
From the floor, Eric Sambell clarified some Gift Aid points relating to Just Giving, explaining that the recording of all donations was automatically increased by 25% by the website where a Gift Aid declaration had been made.
10. COMMENTS ON THE REPORTS AND ADOPTION OF OBJECTIVES:
Concern was expressed from the floor in respect of the District report indicating the proposed changes to the election of District Committee members, whereby they could come from any Branch within the District and ultimately could all come from one branch.
Members requested the Committee report their concerns back to the District Committee and sought assurance there could not be a takeover of all Committee posts by one branch.
The Chairman requested that the reports and objectives be accepted.
Proposed by: John Farrell
Seconded by: Art Weaver
11. PRESENTATION AND ADOPTION OF ACCOUNTS:
The Treasurer presented a detailed explanation of the audited accounts, explaining that due to changes in the Financial Year they were for a 9 month period ending 30 June 2013. (Note – the audited accounts for this period are appended to these Minutes.) He then moved on to provide a Financial Statement as at 9 November 2013, shown below, and explained details of Receipts and Payments from 1 July 2013 – 9 November 2013. From the floor, Gerry Kane, a former Treasurer of the Langeleben Reunion Association, commented that the annual cost of our webpage, 95.99 was almost double what Langeleben had paid. The Chairman agreed that the Branch should look at swopping the web host and it would be referred to our new Webmaster.
FINANCIAL STATEMENT AS AT 9 NOVEMBER 2013
HSBC Bank £2199.91
Cash in Hand £0.59
RBL Branch Funds Initiative £3515.84
In view of the healthy balance and mindful of requirements for administration over the next 12 months the Committee at its pre-AGM meeting had agreed to transfer a further £1500 to the Poppy Appeal following the AGM.
The Chairman asked for the adoption of the accounts which was:
Proposed by: Gerry Kane
Seconded by: Helen Neal
Action: Treasurer, Secretary, PAO
12. ELECTION OF BRANCH COMMITTEE MEMBERS:
The Chairman explained that Chris Haley, who had been co-opted onto the Committee did not wish to stand for election, but that Lt Cdr (Ret’d) John Swann who the Chairman knew reasonably well and although he could not attend the AGM due to his presence at the Festival of Remembrance, had agreed to stand and was expected to make every effort to increase RN membership numbers. Mike Frankish, who had just come to the end of his tenure as a Committee Member had been nominated to stand again and had accepted the nomination. He too was unable to attend the AGM due to a long-standing and important family celebration.
Both members had been nominated and seconded and had submitted CVs which had been made available on the website and copies of which were available to the AGM.
After inviting comments and questions from the floor the Chairman explained that they were unopposed and there were two vacancies following the election last year of John Neal and himself as Officers of the Branch. The Chairman declared that John Swann and Mike Frankish were elected unopposed.
The Chairman explained that there were further vacancies on the Committee. As no further nominations had been submitted the Committee could co-opt members until the next AGM.
Linda McDermott expressed an interest which was welcomed and it was AGREED that she should be co-opted onto our Committee and could stand for election at the next AGM.
Action: Secretary / Committee / Linda McDermott
(Note: Branch policy is that Members who wish to stand for election to the Committee must firstly submit a nomination and CV)
13. ELECTION OF NATIONAL DISTRICT COMMITTEE REPRESENTATIVE
Bob White’s tenure as a National District Committee member had come to an end and Bob had decided not to stand for re-election. No nominations had been received and the Chairman pointed out that the Branch should fill this vacancy, if necessary by co-option, as it was important that we maintained our representation on the Committee, even though the District Chairman was a member of our Branch. The matter had been discussed at the pre-AGM Branch Committee Meeting as a member of our committee would be ideal in reporting our views and concerns to and from the District Committee.
Following discussion, Jim Mc Dermott offered to fill the vacancy. As there were no other members who wished to take this post the Chairman declared that Jim McDermott be Elected (unopposed) as District Committee representative
Action: Secretary / Dave Street / Jim McDermott
(Post AGM note: Jim McDermott will be invited to attend the next Branch Committee Meeting when he will be nominated for co-option to our Committee so that he may represent our interests. He may then stand for election for a full 3 year tenure on the Branch Committee if he so wishes)
14. NATIONAL BOARD OF TRUSTEES NOMINATION
There were no nominations to the Board of Trustees.
15. APPOINTMENT OF DISTRICT COMMITTEE AGM DELEGATES
The role of a delegate was explained and following discussion
Linda Mc Dermott was APPOINTED as delegate to the AGM on 11 January 2014 in London.
As no second nomination was forthcoming, only one delegate will represent the Branch.
Action: Secretary / Linda Mc Dermott
(Post AGM Note – Our vice-chairman Nick Berry has volunteered to be our second delegate subject to work commitments and National District has been advised accordingly)
16. APPOINTMENT OF ANNUAL CONFERENCE DELEGATES
Following discussion Bob Oldfield and Pete Derrick were APPOINTED to represent the Branch as delegates to the Annual Conference at Torquay 17-18 May 2014.
Action: Secretary/Bob Oldfield/Pete Derrick
17. ANNUAL CONFERENCE MOTIONS
The following Motion was put to the Meeting and if successful would be put to Annual Conference through the appropriate channels:
THIS CONFERENCE URGES THE ROYAL BRITISH LEGION TO CHANGE THE NAME OF ‘MILITARY MEMBERSHIP’ TO ‘MILITARY FRIENDS OF THE LEGION’.
Following discussion it was:
Proposed by John Neal
Seconded by Dennis Weir
That the Motion be put to Annual Conference
18. CLOSING REMARKS AND DATE AND PLACE OF NEXT AGM
The Chairman suggested that the 2014 AGM take place on the Saturday of Remembrance Weekend and asked for alternative venues. Jim McDermott offered the Quorn Bowls Club as an alternative venue at a nominal charge. It was agreed that this would be looked at as an alternative. The consensus was that Loughborough was a good venue and the AGM should take place over Remembrance Weekend. The Committee would consider locations and report to the Membership in due course.
At 1527 the Chairman thanked everyone for their support and declared the Meeting closed.