AGM 2012 Report

Bumper attendance at Buckingham (and a surprise package)


Following 2011’s successful AGM it was decided that this year we needed a larger hall, which turned out to be a very good decision.  59 members and 11 guests braved the January cold and helped to make the evening a very enjoyable one.   Not many organisations can boast that about 30% of their members attend their AGM!

Greater space meant more room for displays, book sales, raffle prizes and Helene Hill’s splendid supper.  As a result, despite the greater costs of the larger hall, the evening made a comfortable profit, which was particularly welcomed by our Treasurer.

The usual reports were presented by the Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer and Work Party Organiser and if anyone would like further details or a copy of these reports this can be arranged. The Chairman thanked the committee for their hard work this year particularly including the Treasurer, Vernon Draper, who undertook the Membership Secretary role until Jean Beddard (ably assisted by husband Chris) was able to take on the post.  Special thanks also went to Len Barrows who produced several editions of Navigator before Richard Lewis became the new editor

Athina detailed the extensive and wide-ranging work undertaken by volunteers this year.  She was very pleased to report the successful completion of Little Hill Bridge, of which the Society is justly proud.  She also thanked the landowners, without whom the work would not be possible, Nick Hawes of Home Farm, Bourton Meadow, Clive Pullin of Foscott, Mike Edmondson of Little Hill Farm, BBOWT, owners of the Hyde Lane site and British Waterways who own the Cosgrove length.

Athina expressed her warm appreciation to assistant Work Party leader, Tony Dawe, and to Jonathan Brown, the Equipment Manager for all their support throughout the year and to the increasing numbers of volunteers who turn out on Thursdays and Sundays in all kinds of weather.  She announced that last year an astonishing 2,272 hours were worked on site by volunteers.

The Secretary reported on the successful negotiations for a lease from BBOWT on the Hyde Lane site and was pleasantly surprised to be presented with a package by Vernon Draper containing the completed lease paperwork, signed on the 25th of January.  This was greeted with generous applause.

Relationships with AVDC and South Northants DC have been formalised and there has been closer working with BW.  Helen was pleased to note that redundant lock gates donated by BW arrived at Hyde Lane the day before the AGM.

Helen reported that a lot of hard work had gone into a planning application for the re-watering of Bourton Meadow and Terry Cavender confirmed the application would be submitted the following week.

The Treasurer presented an upbeat report with a number of grant awards from organisations such as the Bedfordshire and Luton Community Foundation, BCC Community Leaders’ Fund, Santander and Braunston Marina among others.  The only large item of expense this year has been the legal fees for the Hyde Lane lease

Vernon referred to the record profit from the boat festival and thanked all the active fund-raisers with particular mention of Athina, Jonathan and Tony who achieved such success with the bric a brac stall.

The committee was delighted that all available committee places are now filled.   Following the retirement of Hélène Hill, Jim McIlroy has joined the committee as Health & Safety Officer, Richard Lewis as the new Navigator Editor and most recently, Kirsty Willette, who will be helping to improve the design of all our promotional material.  With so many projects under way the committee will be looking for additional support from members on working groups to be set up for specific tasks.  If you have something to contribute do get in touch

Before closing the meeting the Chairman announced two presentations.  Athina was delighted to mark the retirement of Hélène Hill with the gift of a witch hazel shrub for her garden.  Helene has been a member of the committee from the very early days of BCS and has been an important fount of knowledge about all things “Buckingham”.  Her contribution (with the help of her sister Kay Meadows) to the refreshments at the AGM has been legendary.

Athina then introduced Hazel Hedges of the Buckinghamshire Community Foundation who presented a cheque for £619 to fund the updating of the membership leaflet.  Mrs Hedges was particularly pleased to be making this award to a north Buckinghamshire charity as it is under-represented in the numbers of applications.  Vernon accepted the cheque on behalf of BCS with grateful thanks.

Following a sociable supper interval, Ed Grimsdale, celebrated local historian, gave an entertaining and thought provoking illustrated talk about the effect that the canal had on the town of Buckingham. He described a town previously cut off in the winter because of the glutinous state of the roads.  He showed us the changing architecture of the town as it became possible to import roof slates as an alternative to locally made tiles.  We were told of the chemical industry that developed in the 19th Century when it was possible to bring in bones from London and guano from Chile for the manufacture of fertiliser.  Ed’s talk was very well received and completed a very successful evening.


Helen Preston, Secretary