STRACHUR MEMORIAL HALL COMMITTEE
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
Sunday 6th NOVEMBER 2016 - 4.00 pm
Tom Peebles, Chairman – Clare Brathmere, Vice-Chair – Douglas McHugh, Treasurer – Evie Campbell, Booking Officer – Gordon Neish, Events Organiser - Teresa Hunt-Earle, Secretary
Chairman Emeritus – David Fiddes
Jackie Scott-Mandeville (Country Dancing), Anne Fiddes (Friendship Group, Quilters), Anne Craig (Friendship Group), Cathie Montgomery (History Society, Smiddy), Catherine Harrison (SWRI Strachur, Ladies Keep Fit), Ian Asher (Strachur Hub), Margaret Asher (Ladies Bowling), Drew Stewart (Newsletter), Evie Campbell (Fiddle Workshop), Sheena Dowse (Youth and Drama Club), David Fiddes (Piping Association), Les Earle (Strachur & District Community Council and co-opted ‘Resources Officer’)
Strachur residents Frieda Bos (Strachur.org website), Hazel Logue, Patrick Gibb
Tom welcomed everyone, and thanked them for coming.
Rita Mackellar, Robbie Coull, Willie Montgomery, Alison Roy
Minutes of Last AGM of 15 November 2015
Approved as correct, proposed by Les Earle and seconded by Gordon Neish.
Any matters arising are covered in the course of the meeting.
It has been a quiet yet successful year in most respects. Douglas, as treasurer, bore the brunt of the greatest problem of this year : the pedantry of the Bank of Scotland apparently designed to frustrate any attempt to make alterations to accounts.
The Halls continued to be much in demand, with just under 1000 bookings, about the minimum required to maintain sufficient income over the year. At almost 2000 hours, this is an exceptional level of use for a rural hall. We have around 20 regular local user groups, with three new groups joining us this year : Dog Training, the Strachur Hub and Knit & Natter. Three weddings and two elections also helped to boost funds.
Ken Finlayson stepped down as treasurer in March. We cannot thank him enough for all his hard work, both as treasurer and in undertaking maintenance work around the halls. He has been ably succeeded by Douglas McHugh, who has our warmest thanks. Financially, the Halls’ reserves are in good shape, relieving us of anxiety should any emergency works crop up at short notice.
In terms of legal requirements, all licences and insurances are valid, with none due for imminent renewal. The fire alarm system and fire appliances have been inspected and renewed where necessary.
- Heating system
Both heating systems are operational and the low oil price has greatly reduced our year’s heating bill. The heating has been switched over to biomass for the winter and has been running so far without a hitch. The long-standing problem with the biomass boiler was finally traced to a minor electrical fault, now fixed by Alistair Mirrlees. A delivery of very wet, steadfastly unignitable, chip was dug out by the suppliers and replaced with dry wood.
Our venerable oil boiler has functioned well since the replacement of the pump (£500); proposals to replace it, at a cost of £5-6000, have been deferred, but it is likely that a new boiler will be required in 3 or 4 years.
Although retiring from the committee this year, Tom was willing to help look after the heating for a further year. However, it was essential for some other interested bodies to come forward to learn how the systems work and share the job of checking on the boilers and ordering oil or woodchip as required.
- Hall and Grounds Maintenance
The Council Community Services ‘Payback Team’ has recently repainted the external rendered walls and the internal walls of the Memorial Hall, the only cost to us being £120 for paint. Enough paint remains to do other internal areas should the new committee wish to arrange this with the Team. The Team also cut the grass and refurbished three wooden benches from the wee garden at the end of the new hall. The garden itself is still to be tidied, and the benches are currently stored in the refloored storage container. We have quantities of daffodil bulbs, donated by Ken, and need a squad of volunteers to plant these (and help with suitable locations…).
Our storage issues have largely been resolved. New shelving was installed in the middle store cupboard of the new hall, providing more storage space for the Friendship Group, Country Dancers, Ladies Bowling and others. Shelving has also been erected in the Playgroup’s Toy Library, operational on Friday afternoons, and all toys are now stored there. This allowed us to move material out of the room behind the stage and into the refloored container. Rita McKellar has said she will check through the playgroup equipment now stored there.
The very old hub upstairs was replaced and the new one gives an excellent Wi-Fi signal in the Memorial Hall and as far as the door of the meeting room, but no further. The 40 metre cable to the secondary hub downstairs is probably broken and will need replacing. An attempt to use a Wi-Fi extender proved unsuccessful, partly because of a lack of appropriately located sockets. At present, if any bookings require a Wi-Fi facility, they should be booked into the Memorial Hall, not the new Hall. As the Wi-Fi signal is excellent in the room behind the stage, a possibility under consideration is to move the computer and printer/photocopier into this space and make it the office.
Tom thanked Drew on behalf of the committee for all his hard work on the production of an excellent and generally acclaimed Newsletter. We now have a ‘Hall News’ section to keep people abreast of hall issues and events. He looked forward to an article by the new committee giving the new contact names.
- Wedding Booklet
Fiona Campbell and Elspeth Ferguson have agreed to collate information for a booklet on the Strachur Halls as a wedding venue. Hitherto, Fiona and others have needed to have several pre-wedding meetings with clients covering all the questions which arise as to equipment, décor, catering, celebrants etc etc. Drew reiterated that he was happy to print the finished booklet.
Tom expressed the committee’s wholehearted thanks and appreciation to Fiona, without whom this establishment could not function as well as it does. She is a treasure and we cannot ever do without her.
- The Comments Book continues to prove a good means of communicating any problems to committee members. We had very few comments/complaints this year, hopefully an indication of general satisfaction. A reminder to the new committee: whenever you are in the Halls, check the book to see if anything needs fixed or if users have any concerns.
Finally, Tom thanked all committee members for their support and hard work throughout the year and over the past 5 years :
Teresa for her helpful secretarying, and organisation of the 50-50 Club;
Ken and Douglas for looking after our finances impeccably – our reserves stand at over £13,000, a recovery from a low of £6K and comparable with the £14K held when Tom took over as chair in 2011;
Frieda and Evie for being such unfussed and efficient booking officers;
Gordon for his hard work in organising the Variety Shows and the Commonwealth Games torch event, among others, which made such a substantial contribution to hall funds.
Others too were thanked, including Andrew Weir, all too briefly vice-chair, Stefanie McGunnigal as interim booking officer, and Les Earle, recently co-opted as resources officer to seek out grant funding.
Warm thanks also went to all the group representatives over the years who have ensured the continuance of all the various activities. We have a wonderful community here, and he hoped helpers would come forward from the younger generations to take on responsible roles and continue to maintain the social fabric of the village.
Tom had enjoyed his 7 years on the committee, 5 as chair. It had enriched his life and brought many friendships, and he hoped he had succeeded in his aim of leaving the halls in as good a state as he found them. But it was time for fresh ideas and personalities and he looked forward to seeing the facilities continue to be well run and well used – he was happy to help or advise if required. Thanks to all.
Booking Officer’s Report
Evie said her 2 years in post had been rewarding and the job not difficult, although the invoicing side could be a bit time-consuming. She requested everyone to please check your invoices in case of the very occasional error.
We had 958 bookings this year, an increase of 150 over last year. No charge had been made for time booked for Variety Show rehearsals. There had been 3 weddings and 2 elections in the year, both excellent for income. We now have several new groups using the Halls: Knit and Natter, the Strachur Hub, Dog Training and Circuit Training. All was running smoothly and people were booking by email, which was very helpful. Following the Newsletter reminder that bookings do not continue indefinitely, there had been a flurry of people renewing their bookings for the new year.
Please allow enough time for clearing up when booking – always check the website and ensure you leave the hall clear for the next user.
GET IN TOUCH by phone or email (firstname.lastname@example.org ) if you don’t receive confirmation from Evie that your booking has been received.
Event Organiser’s Report
The Variety Show in spring had been very successful but it had been a quiet year for brought-in events. Proposals received had been for acts not appropriate for this area or unlikely to attract a large enough audience. No further approaches as yet from Scottish Opera or the National Theatre of Scotland. Gordon would like the committee’s approval to join The Touring Network, which promotes professional music, theatre etc. events across the highlands and islands. Membership is £75. Performers’ fees would be payable for events but the shows would be of high quality and attractive to audiences.
Gordon proposed that he share the Event Organiser role with Sheena Dowse.
Douglas thanked Ken Finlayson for all his help in getting started as treasurer, and also Evie for her help with the operation of the bookings system and invoicing. Sheets detailing the accounts examined by Hammond & Company of Helensburgh, were made available.
Our funds at 30.06.16 stood at £9449 in the General Account and £4190 in the restricted Fabric Account (£2K being SSE grant), totalling £13,639. This figure is despite some major repairs/maintenance costs in the course of the year, including the £500 cost of the new oil boiler pump. Expenditure had held reasonably steady. Woodchip/ oil expenses were down (cheaper oil). Donations/fundraising were slightly down at £3942. Income from lets and the Newsletter had increased compared with the last financial year and the figure for overdue accounts was down. Although printing costs were up, Newsletter income/expenditure more or less balanced overall. Douglas was encouraging users to pay their invoices within the month. He reminded users to please put an account reference when paying invoices directly – or put the invoice number on cheques to facilitate accounting.
BoS has finally approved Douglas as a signatory for our two bank accounts and he has online access to the accounts. He is arranging for the accounts to be merged, so that we are not exposed to charges.
Page 4 / 5
Drew reported an exceptional year for the Newsletter, with the extra 200th Edition and a plethora of contributions sent in, particularly from Youth and Drama and the Primary School. However, more pages means increased printing costs, but no increase in copies sold. A sheet summarising the Newsletter accounts from 2007/8 to the present showed that the Newsletter had contributed just over £2000 over the years to Hall funds. The printer/paper costs shown for this year were in part incurred last year. Advertising revenue was down slightly but some £600 remained outstanding. The e-Newsletter was doing well. Drew warned contributors not to expect prompt confirmation of receipt of articles, as he dealt with Newsletter business late on in the month.
To our shock and horror, Drew gave notice that he plans to retire next year and will give up the Newsletter after 10 years of sterling work. We therefore need to find someone to take over the Newsletter from the end of 2017.
Resources Officer’s Report – update on SSE switchgear
Cost of installation (quote to be verified): £3000, plus VAT, which A&B Council will cover.
We have a pot of £2800 comprising the SSE grant of £2000; gifts from the Friendship Group (£100) and Strathlachlan Community Centre (£200), and the promised Hall contribution of £500.
Shortfall : £200.
An approach to Western Ferries yielded only the promise of ferry tickets for an ‘event’. No response from Stuart Shaw re an alternative quote. Les will make an application to Bank of Scotland. It will be for the new committee to decide whether to press on or to repay the grants and gifts.
Appointment of Office Bearers
Honorary President : Douglas Currie, proposed by Tom Peebles, seconded by David Fiddes.
Chairman Emeritus : Tom did not wish to be known as Chairman Emeritus, and suggested the position be removed. He was simply the ‘past chairman’.
Chair : Clare Brathmere, proposed by Tom Peebles, seconded by Les Earle.
Vice-Chair : No nominations received. Interested parties welcome.
Treasurer : Douglas McHugh, proposed by Gordon Neish, seconded by Evie Campbell
Booking Officer : Evie Campbell, proposed by Anne Craig, seconded by Jackie Scott-Mandeville
Events Organiser : Gordon Neish and Sheena Dowse, jointly proposed by Margaret Asher, seconded by David Fiddes.
Secretary : Patrick Gibb, proposed by Clare Brathmere, seconded by Frieda Bos
Resources Officer : Les Earle agreed to continue in this honorary capacity.
Any Other Business
David Fiddes noted that Fiona was taking on more responsibility for weddings etc. and suggested that she should have a committee position. Tom and Clare would discuss it with Fiona, but the fact that she is a paid employee may preclude this.
Evie Campbell mentioned a problem with the rubbish and recycling. Fiona was obliged on occasion to sift through rubbish removing (and emptying!) glass bottles – particularly if the outside bins were overflowing. A sign should be displayed asking bookers to separate out glass bottles and take them to the recycling point.
The state of the multi-court was mentioned. A regular user over past years from St. Catherines had kept it basically maintained and considered the surface good for tennis. The broken winding gear posts were replaced but are kept indoors to avoid damage. It was suggested the court might be used for bowling. The sign about charges should be removed and perhaps replaced with an honesty box.
There being no further business, the Chairman thanked everyone for coming and the meeting closed at 5.30 pm.