2019 AGM: Chairman’s Report

By | June 10, 2019

WOW! ~ hasn’t the last two years gone quickly, as your Chairman, as I realise I will very soon pass the reins of office onto my successor. In accordance with our Constitution the maximum period of tenure as Chairman is two years.

It is easy to look back, but the success of our U3A must be to look forward and to learn from the past and where appropriate to improve.

I have been fortunate to have worked with a committed Management Committee as well as being a member of the Trustee body. The members of both have worked tirelessly both front of house and behind the scenes to make it all work.

U3A will continue to prosper if and only if members are prepared to share a proportion of the workload and to maintain our forward momentum.

I read recently the chairman’s annual report of a Lake District U3A ~ her plea was to the membership ~ help please with the running of U3A. A message, which has similar, rings in Ormskirk and Aughton. We are all volunteers.

If was disappointing when a vacancy arose for a trustee that out of a membership of 1800 not one person put their name forward. The current constitution, which created the different roles of trustees and the management committee is quite clear, that if more that one vacancy arises then the organisation cannot function until a special general meeting is held and new trustees are appointed.

We are 50% there ~ trustees cannot be co-opted. The membership may have to revisit the constitution to consider a return to the older version if nobody is prepared to stand for a trustee role.

I am indebted, as should all members, to the unstinting work of group leaders. They make the extensive activities work. Their organisational skills are to be commended but they cannot be expected to carry on with out help and some succession planning is essential. What a disaster it would be because a group leader was unable to carry on that there was a risk of that group folding. We must all look ahead and provide support. We cannot always rely upon and take for granted the few.

We are a group from the wider community that benefits the whole local community. We are lucky to be able to draw on the excellent facilities in our area. We pay rent to use and enjoy the facilities ~ the rent in turn helps to provide financial assistance and security for the owners of the premises so the same can be further enjoyed by the community. We are indebted to all our landlords for the opportunity of using their premises.

I have to thank the Scouts and Guides committee for working with us and commend their brave decision to buy ‘the Sands’ which carries with it financial obligations but provides unin­ter­rupted access to our HQ. The opportunity of U3A with its more age mature members being able to provide reliable financial support for those at the other end of the age spectrum is very satisfying.

Your management committee is very grateful for the financial expertise offered by its treasurers and the finance and resource committee. Sadly over my period of tenure there have been changes in the personnel but at no time has the accuracy of our financial position been in doubt. I am grateful for the help and guidance of all those who have worked to keep accurate and reliable accounts. The financial year ended on the 31 March 2019 and within hours our books were into our accountants.

What have been identified are issues concerning VAT and Gift Aid. Guidance has been sought from the Third Age Trust but my take on it is that a general view is not sufficient and that specific professional guidance will have to be obtained ~ a task for our new treasurer when appointed.

As I sign off as your Chairman there are many who I need to thank for helping and supporting me. The greatest sin is to name a number of people but then to leave someone out.

I cannot however say thank you without naming our retiring Trustee chairman. Margaret Gibbon has worked tirelessly in her role as well as manning her normal desk at Horizons. She has provided unstinting support to me in dealing with some tricky issues.

Our U3A will say goodbye to our secretary Linda Burden following our AGM. Linda is the conduit for contact both for the Trustees and the Management committee. She has also been a good listener for issues arising and many potential issues have been addressed before they have snow­balled. Her attention to detail and her clerical skills have provided a reliable service to our U3A.

We should be proud of our magazine ~ a quality product worked on tirelessly by Bill Evans and distributed by the late Pete Trigwell and his team. The recent and sudden passing of Pete was a shock to us all. He worked hard for U3A. Our thoughts go out to Alayne and his family.

The webpage is a compliment to Alan and Joyce Nolan.

I thank individually and collectively the Management Committee. I am aware of the four persons who have stood for election this time ~ they will be received as valuable members of an active management team. They have already shown a commitment to our U3A wearing different hats and I know they will be welcomed.

In this litigious society that we live in I commend the work of the Health and Safety committee ~ we are lucky in our membership to be able to call upon those with skills on this issue. We have addressed this year also the complicated obligations of Data Protection.

The persons however I wish to thank most are you the members ~ this is your U3A ~ you should be proud of what has been achieved, and can still be achieved, when looking to the future. I hope the membership will continue the enjoy the wide variety of activities which are on offer and work with the group leaders and share some of the responsibilities to ensure that current members and future members will be proud to be part of our organisation.

Ian Grant