THAMES VALLEY NETWORK REPRESENTATIVES’ MEETING

Thursday 29th April 2010

At the Sports Pavilion, Watlington

 

PRESENT: Anthony Burdall (Faringdon) (Chairman), Susie Berry (Ridgeway),  Tony Biddle (Chess Valley), Agnes Budagowska (Swindon), Margaret Bultitude (South Bucks),  Sue Chainey (Ridgeway), Ian Clarkson (Faringdon), Pat Davey (Maidenhead), Clive Dray (Newbury),  Margaret Edmondson (Wallingford),  Rita Fidler (Thame & District), Avis Furness (Reading),  Anne Gould (Abingdon), Wendy Griffiths (Princes Risborough),  Pam Jones (Witney), Paul King (Wokingham), Deirdre Mann (Greater Thame),  Martin McBride (Carterton),   Nancy Mclellan (Abingdon),  Mike Midgley (Haddenham),Colin Mitchell (S.E. Region),  Jeanette Morgan (Windsor & District), Louis Moss (South Bucks), Pam Palmer (Bracknell Forest), Mark Phillips (Thameside), Mike Price (Greater Thame), Chris Seagrave (Wendover), Colin Sear (Chinnor),  Brand Sharpe (Wendover),  Len Smith (Wokingham), Patsy Thornton (Wokingham), Jacky Wagstaff (Ridgeway), Ruth Waddle (Headington),  Ann Mary Ware (Marlow),  Peter Westby (Chess Valley), Vic Ware (Marlow), Geoff Young (Aylesbury Vale).

 

1.0.. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE: Joan Airey (Oxford),  John Brandis (Haddenham),  Peter Jarvis (Thatcham), Mary Trout (Reading), David Vincent (Goring Gap).

 

2.0.   MINUTES OF LAST MEETING

2.1.   Comments on last Minutes: None

2.2.  Actions arising: None.

2.3.  Any other matters arising: None.

 

3.0.  REPORT OF NETWORK COMMITTEE

3.1. Chairman’s Report:  Anthony Burdall reported that, since the last Representatives’ meeting, there have been two committee meetings.  The Events Team has been set up and has had one meeting.  The committee agreed that their expenses would come from Network funds.  In view of the price of petrol, the committee raised the mileage allowance from 20 pence per mile to 30 pence per mile.

Fees for Study Days for future events were discussed and it was felt that they fell into 4 categories:

a)  Delegates, who pay full price for the day and food.

b)  Helpers -  there will be a reduced fee for helpers and that will generally be based on how much the job prevents the delegate from enjoying the day.  Organisers of that particular day to decide scale of discount.

c)  Speakers from U3As – no fee, free refreshments.

d)  Outside speakers – as c).

Training Days would be treated differently when the days will be offered free to all delegates, who will only pay for refreshments.

Anthony said that in looking at the Minutes of 3 years ago, he was very encouraged as to how far the Network has come.  Now we have a very comprehensive programme , which will be even fuller next year.  One study day this year was over-subscribed and the music day in June has attracted a very good number and is almost full.  He expressed his thanks to a very supportive committee and especially to Pam Jones for her assistance. In her absence, he thanked Isobel Sheppard for her creative ideas and knowledge.  It is believed that she has moved to Scotland.

Patsy Thornton also expressed her thanks to the committee for all their work in organising the study days etc.  The development of the Events Team, which will organize events and take the pressure off the committee, is very good news for the Network.

3.2.  Secretary’s Report: None.  Len Smith was asked if the Constitution is on the website.  It is not at present but he will put it on.  The only change since it was created, is a change of name to Thames Valley Network (from Thames Valley Region) on 13.05.2009.

3.3. Treasurer’s Report: Accounts had already been circulated.  Martin McBride had prepared accounts for the financial year to 31st December  and up to 31st March 2010.  Overall the account has increased by £1,585 and within that amount there are some fees for the Oxford Study Day in September.  Peter Westby felt that the Network was carrying a large amount of money.   Anthony explained that £2,000 was considered a reserve figure in the event of an occurrence such as the cancellation of a study day after money had been committed.   The committee felt that the remainder should be invested for the benefit of the Network, in events such as training days.  The one in February had been free to all delegates and it was planned to hold one or two in 2011.

Brand Sharpe asked why representatives had contributed to hire of hall for this meeting.  The matter was discussed and it was decided that in future, hire of venue for such meetings would come from Network funds.  Travel and refreshments would be down to individuals or their U3A.

In the absence of any more questions, Geoff Young proposed approval of the accounts.  Peter Westby seconded the proposal.  Accounts approved unanimously.

Martin went on to say that of the £4,103.96 in the account at 31st March this year, £774 were advance fees for the Music Study Day in June.  He reported that the Historic Towns Day in Henley made a profit.

6 U3As have not yet paid affiliation fees for this year.  Princes Risborough has joined the Network., bringing totals number of affiliated U3As to 35.

Discussion took place about events making a profit.  Anthony confirmed that they are planned to be self-funding with the aim to cover costs.  Some have a surplus but if there were to be a loss, it would be covered by the reserve.  It was suggested that study days could be subsidized but it was felt that at present the Network should fund the training days.  It was agreed that the two put on by the Network have been very beneficial.  One for committee members and potential committee members was discussed.  Representatives were asked whether they would like one or two each year.   A repeat of the Group Leaders Day was suggested.  The general feeling was to have two each year.  Vic Ware thought that numbers had been restricted at the Group Leaders’ Day in Abingdon.  Anthony explained that there was no restriction on the number of attendees.  His problem had been to find people willing to be workshop leaders, which would have affected numbers attending.  It was agreed that the best venues for these days are schools.  Mike Price said that considering that schools are supposed to reach out to the community, it is very difficult to get suitable venues.  Ann Mary asked whether we could have study days at weekends.  The Creative Writing day in Witney was held on a Saturday but again, it is finding a suitable venue.  Mike Price suggested that it might be worth asking all Network U3As if they have a good school in their area.  Anthony felt that it is essential to see the head of the school.  As a section of the local community, we can solve their problem of community involvement.  He encouraged members not to sell that ‘tick in the box ‘too cheaply.  The school in Faringdon is a good venue but public transport is not good.  The John Mason School in Abingdon was just over £200 for the day.  Mike felt that it is also important to see the workers who will be assisting on the day e.g. caretakers.  

 

4.0   ELECTION OF COMMITTEE

The committee consists of four officers and four members, plus the Regional Trustee, who is ex officio and cannot vote.  Members can stay on the committee for 3 years and can stand again after the 3 years, apart from the Chairman.  Anthony Burdall, Isobel Sheppard and Clive Dray will be leaving the committee, which leaves Mike Price (Vice Chairman), Martin McBride (Treasurer), Pam Jones (Secretary), Len Smith and Peter Jarvis.  Four nominations have been registered:

Agnes Budagowska

June Morris

Brand Sharpe

Ann Mary Ware.

Anthony suggested to the meeting that the four should be proposed en bloc with Pam Jones as the new Chairman. Clive Dray put forward the proposal and Patsy Thornton seconded it.  Members were unanimously elected.  Peter Jarvis will be co-opted on to the committee to report on adult education and on the U3A Research Project.

Anthony said that there would be a slight change of emphasis in the work of the committee as the Events Team had now been formed to organize study days.  This would free up the committee to concentrate on other matters although they will compile the programme of study days and other events.  Ann Mary Ware, who will head the Events  Team, will send out contact details.

 

5.0    REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE

5.1.     Regional Representative’s Report:  Colin Mitchell reported that there are now 153 U3As in the

South East Region.  There had been two conferences in the Region recently, one in East Grinstead and one in Wellington College.  Ian Searle, Chairman of the Third Age Trust and Colin, spoke at both of these.  Ian Searle was challenged about the size of the Region but he is powerless.  He has no authority to change the size (nor have Trustees).  Change can only happen through the AGM and at present, there is no proposal going forward.  It would be defeated anyway as the rest of the country thinks we should be represented by Regions.  Colin gave some examples :

South East Region has 153 U3As

Scotland has 33

Northern Ireland has less than 20

Wales has about 50

South West has about 100

Colin reported that his NEC colleagues are unanimous in believing there is no need for change.

Looking ahead, 2 more conferences funded by the Trust will take place:

a)13th October in Tonbridge Wells – Terry Hardie and Lin Jonas will be the speakers

b)26th October at Wellington College.  Cost £15 per head, including lunch.  Colin has invited Dr Janet Lippett to speak.  She works in the Royal Berkshire Hospital and is an expert in care of the elderly.  The rest of the day will include discussions on problems affecting U3As.

Pam Jones asked Colin what he would like to happen in the Region.  He said it is a matter of working out how we can best play to our strengths.  He said that there is a lot happening in the Networks with events such as the Riverside Project and also in Sussex and Surrey.  Hampshire is a little more backward in terms of networking.  A single conference was suggested but Colin said that the majority does not want one.  Colin will finish as Trustee in September 2011 and he hopes that someone will take over and build on the foundations.  He feels that we should be driving the rest of the country.  He can get expenses for a Regional Team.  Anthony Burdall felt that this is a very big issue.  Len Smith objected to the fact that the Network does not get back any of the Capitation Fee unless through the Region and that comes with strings attached.  Anthony issued a plea to keep the Region and the Network totally separate.  The Region is our channel of communication to National Office.  The Network must not be part of that.  We exist for the benefit of our U3As.

 

6.0   NETWORK INFORMATION

6.1. Contacts List will be re-issued after this meeting.

6.2. Database of Speakers:  Deirdre Mann has offered to go through list and ‘phone people to see if information is current.  Pam to send her database.

6.3. Network website www.u3atvnetwork.org.uk  Len said that website has links to affiliated U3As and he hopes that U3As link back to encourage more people to look at the website.

 

7.0.   NETWORK ACTIVITIES

7.1. Events Sub-Group:  to be named Events Team. Ann Mary Ware, Team leader, said that one more person is required.  The team’s Terms of Reference are to organize all events, except the conference.  The team is not responsible for establishing programme but to pick it up.  Events will be planned to cover costs.  Any surplus will go into funds and any loss will be covered from funds.  Mike Price commented that it had been very satisfying to organize a conference, working with other U3As and that we should promote the idea to our U3As.  Abingdon representatives committed their U3A to organizing the 2012 conference.

7.2. Riverside Project: Patsy Thornton reported that they had enjoyed a very active planning day with 20 U3As represented.  Susie Berry was congratulated for getting the report out so promptly.  Seven interest groups had been set up and the ‘pioneers’ would welcome support from all over the Network.  Patsy will circulate the journal to all those interested.  Newsletter Editors will be asked to put dates in their journal.  It would be good if different U3As could go to Swan-Upping.  There will be a follow-up meeting on Friday 17th September in Goring Village Hall.  Next year it is hoped that there will be a 3 day Study School at Wellington College in October, where all the findings and presentations will be demonstrated.  Costs were not covered on the Planning Day but it is hoped that they will be for any subsequent day.  Agnes Budagowska pointed out that costs for activities will be covered by the individual U3As, not by the Network. As always, communication is a problem.  Discussion took place as to the various means U3As use for disseminating information.  Some do it through group leaders, some do it just at main meetings and on notice-boards, some through Newsletter Editors.  Susie Berry will contact Newsletter Editors.  Brand Sharpe asked if there is a link to the Riverside Project on the website.  There is an immediate link  to the Project calendar.

7.3. Programme for 2010:  Network Conference.  Patsy reported that they are very disappointed with response so far.  The application form is downloadable from the website.  She outlined the programme for the day. She thought that U3As probably pay for their members to attend.  Len Smith will send information to Pam for sending out to contacts.  Several representatives said that they had not received any information about the conference.

Development of Music – Rewley House, Oxford June 28th:  Response has been very good.

Food Science Day at the Museum of Rural Life, Reading - October 7th: agreed to postpone .

The possibility of another Historic Towns day was discussed.  It will probably take place in March 2011 with a different venue and a focus on different towns.  Mary Ann asked U3As to provide local history people.

History of Oxford University – Merton College – September 15th:  Mike Price reported that he has almost enough people and asked representatives to publicise it.  It has gone into U3A News but the date is wrong.  Delegates can have a reduction of about £25 if they do not take dinner.

7.4. Programme for 2011: Conference will be held at New College, Swindon on 4th June.

Global Economy  day planned for April.

Arts and Handicrafts Workshop – end of June, beginning of July.

Philosophy – October

Four Opera Masterpieces – November

There would be a Training Day in February probably for Chairmen and Officers, with the possibility of a second one in the autumn for committee members and prospective members.

Riverside Project Study School- Wellington College, probably 26 – 28 October 2011.

A lunch was discussed but was not popular.

Bridge Day – Faringdon – July:  could take 120 people with 30 tables.

 

Mark Phillips reminded people that Thameside Wallingford U3A is holding an Antiques Day on 5th May and invited them to attend.  It was pointed out that there was no telephone number on the publicity.  Communication was discussed again and it was suggested that there could be a training day on the subject.  Len emphasized that the website is an invaluable resource in this respect.

 

8.0.    ANY OTHER BUSINESS

Colin Sear pointed out that not all U3As have regular newsletters – perhaps only twice a year and this makes communication very difficult.  Deirdre Mann said  that many members do not have e-mail and must not be excluded because of it.  The discussion continues!

 

9.0 DATE AND VENUE OF NEXT MEETING

Thursday 30th September at 10 for 10.30am at the Sports Pavilion, Watlington.