Extra-ordinary Meeting to be held 27 October 2011

Posted 30th September 2011 by Ian Campbell
Newsletter Vol: 97, September 2011

Those of you who heard or have read the Secretary’s and my comments at the AGM will have understood that we are concerned about the future of this Society. We feel that it is slowly subsiding into a lethargy which might in the end prove terminal. In order to address this problem, I have arranged a meeting in the Supper Room at 7.30 pm on October 27th, at which we can get together to identify the problems and possibly come up with some solutions. We are listing our concerns below, so that you can think them over before the actual meeting, which will help to make our discussion relevant.

Please come to the meeting if you can – the future activity and structure of YOUR Society will depend on your enthusiasm and opinions.

Questions that need to be considered at the Extra-ordinary Meeting

The Society seems to me to be stagnant, and gently snoozing its way to oblivion, and I want to discuss how to remedy this with as many of you as can turn up at the meeting. Because you have to change things, not me. I am publishing a list of things we have to discuss in good time before the meeting, so you can think about them, and come up with miraculous solutions to them all!

We are finding that about six people seem to wind up with the bulk of the work that maintains the Society as it is and I do not think this can continue. We need more of you to take part, even in a small way. If enough people volunteer to help, the tasks can be split down so that everyone does a relatively small bit, more and more members are involved, and the labour is more equitably shared. People do not have to be Committee members to do their bit – they can beaver away, and report to the Committee at their convenience.

Let us look at our activities and see how much help is needed.

1. Meetings. The meeting programme that we have in place seems to be very popular, and can be readily financed from subscription income, though this and the Newsletter (see below) use up the bulk of the funds, leaving little cash for the Archive and other payments. Bob and Mandy Burns have really got stuck into providing a good series of speakers. Now, do we want this to be the only activity of the Society, apart from the Archive? Or do we want to continue with other activities, as outlined below.

Present workers – Bob and Mandy – successful and not overworked.

2. Refreshments. Even with the successful meeting programme, we have a problem, however. Marjorie has reluctantly retired from providing refreshments at the meetings and, after September, Anne Crosby will also retire. No-one has stepped forward to take their place regularly. We have several willing volunteers who will turn to “on the night”, but we need people to be responsible for organising the coffee and biscuits for 5 of our meetings in the year. The sixth meeting, before Christmas, is traditionally provided by your Committee, but even that needs a co-ordinator and supervisor. And we also have a Coffee Morning. So we need a volunteer, or even better, two, to take on refreshments.

Present workers – Anne Crosby and several assistants. Soon to lose Anne.

3. Publicity. Not really being done well just now. Bob and Mandy leave notices around the area, Maggie Clowes writes occasional pieces for The Herald and Heart of Eden. One or two people needed for this, able to compose simple pieces for the press and posters.

Present workers – Maggie, Bob and Mandy.

4. Newsletter. Can we, should we do without a Newsletter? Is it popular enough for us to continue to fund it? Vivienne Gate edits it well, and enjoys doing it, but it would be prudent for her to have a deputy in case of emergency, and this task might well be dovetailed by getting another person to assist with production and organise the distribution of the Newsletter, which Vivienne does in addition to her editorial task. Commitment, about 2½ hours every two months.

We really do need more people to contribute – never mind the grammar, we’ll sort that, give us your experiences and thoughts!

Present workers – Vivienne, Ian, Maggie and a team of deliverers.

5. Website. Coming to fruition, largely due to Vivienne’s efforts. We will need one or two people to be trained in handling this and able to update it. This is an essential for a modern Society. The present Committee does not have proper time to take this on. We are employing someone to create it, but then we are on our own!

Present worker – no regular worker.

6. Recruitment. Judith Sowerby has taken on Membership Secretary without being a formal member of the Committee, but her job now is recording and monitoring members and their payments- we need someone to take on the task of continually looking out for recruits to our diminishing membership.

Present worker – none regularly committed

7. Civic watch. We do not at present have anyone specifically keeping an eye on civic affairs, which Graham Coles did. We need one or two people prepared to attend Council meetings and report on them, and to keep an eye on developments in the town, so that this aspect of our remit is fulfilled. Or do you want to drop this ‘watchdog’ element? But then who keeps an eye on Appleby’s affairs? Commitment – three hours every month (observing Council meetings), plus the writing-up. This is a job that could well be shared.

Present worker – no regular person

8. Visits. Vivienne has not had time to pursue our policy of regular visits. It would be great if someone else could take this on, to fix about two visits per year, probably in the evenings.

Present worker – Vivienne (when available).

9. Submissions. We fairly often wish to put an Appleby point of view about questions raised in a wider context, or even very specific matters. The Town Council seems tardy about such contributions. It would be a great advantage if we could create a team of people willing to collaborate to write submissions to authority, (like the one requested about Conservation areas, requested by Eden DC; or like the submission we have prepared re. the Story development, &c, &c) presenting an Appleby Society view, probably under the supervision of the Chairman. These are very time-consuming to prepare. At present, I seem to have to take them all on, and I would appreciate some help. Or would you prefer for the Society not to stick its oar into any local affairs? More routine letters, &c Vivienne and I can cope with.

Present workers – Rosemary, Ian, Vivienne.

10. Projects. We think that a Society like ours should be undertaking small projects about the history and heritage of the Town. I have suggested a couple of things that might be of interest, and got no support for them at all. Is this what members want – no involvement at all in their historic Town? Let someone else do it, and we might buy the booklet? We would like to assemble a small group of members that might consider taking on such projects as Date-stones in the Town, or histories of houses? Or trades. Or anything.

Present workers – none

11. Exhibitions. Anne Coles, mainly, and Vivienne, in a supporting role, are responsible for assembling the exhibitions we produce. They do it and man them (woman them?) almost single-handed. They do a super job, but could use more support, especially attending the exhibits when they are on show. And the Society needs to expand this activity, as it is essentially part of our remit, and is tied in with publicity (see 2. above)

Present workers – Anne, Vivienne.

12. Oral History. Through lack of people, this aspect of our recording has lapsed, which is very sad, as our heritage is dying before our eyes, and we are not preserving it. We have the equipment ready and waiting and would not expect volunteers to be sent off without prior discussion/’training’.

Present workers – Vivienne and Ian (not active).

13. Fundraising. This is a tedious, time-consuming but vital part of what we have to do to stay viable. We have had some small successes, but we really need to get Archive premises that are comfortable, and paid for by grant or revenue donation. We would like to pay an archivist to help and guide our work on the Archive and direct our amateur efforts. We need help from anyone who can give us advice and time for this purpose. Archie Spence is working on our behalf, but he is very heavily committed elsewhere, and so we need more help.

Present worker – Archie.

14. Fundraising events. These are got together by your Committee, with various individuals taking lead roles (usually the names that we have mentioned already). It would be grand to have someone who would take the over-all organisational responsibility for these events.

Present workers – the Committee

15. Archive. To my mind, this is a very important part of what the Society does. People in Societies may come and go, but we must found the Appleby Archive on as sure a footing as possible, so that it can be maintained and expanded by our successors for the benefit of the Town. We have a good team of helpers, and one or two more have volunteered, but it could still be expanded. It is fascinating work, and you really seem to get to grips with what went before in our town.

Present workers – Vivienne, Ian, Evelyn Harrison, Anne Crosby, Joyce Davidson, Davina Osman, Anne Coles.

It seems to us that the Society has come to a halt, and is gently sliding into a comfortable inactivity, where people basically come to the meetings, get a nice talk, have a coffee, have a crack, and go home for two more months. Enthusiasm to improve things in the Town seems to be sadly wanting. So what, if anything, do we want to do about the situation? Or are we content to allow this admirable organisation to subside unsensationally into nothing?

So what we have to decide at our extra-ordinary meeting is:-

  • which of the activities I mention above do we want to keep alive;
  • how we can provide the human resources to do so;
  • how we can raise more money to progress,
  • and how we can encourage more people in the Town to take an active part in the work and rejuvenate the Society

See you on 27th October