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2014 Annual General Meeting

Below is the Chairmans report for the 2013



It is hard to believe that it is just 12 months ago that I felt that pain in my arm and back  as I was persuaded to take on the role of Chairman of this august body. As I said at the time of my election, unopposed despite my best efforts I did not feel that I was qualified to take on the role so brilliantly developed by Terry over many years.

I still feel somewhat of an impostor but have tried my best in my own way to fill his shoes. The year has been enjoyable although each meeting is still approached with more than a fair degree of trepidation and butterflies in the stomach. If it doesn’t seem that way to you then the old adage of the duck gliding smoothly over the water  whilst paddling like mad below the surface is clearly proven.

We have had a very good year again. Membership is still hovering around the 100 mark and attendance at the monthly meetings is usually up around 60 members. Your ongoing support is very much appreciated, indeed it is the lifeblood of our Group. You are the people who matter and we do want to hear from you if you think we can improve on what we are doing or if you have any suggestions for speakers and subjects. You will hear later in the meeting about one suggestion that has emanated from a member and which you will be asked to vote on.

Peter Farrow continues to book excellent speakers and we have had some real treats in the past 12 months. I am not going to recite a list of the speakers and their subjects, I realise that attention span at our age may be short, but I will pick out what for me have been the highlights. The 3 “girls” from the Luton Girls Choir in June, 2013, the Police dog Brodie and handler, Peter Madden, in July 2013, Entertaining Organs with Terry and Margaret Pankhurst in October, 2013 and the History of Harrods with Richard Furnival-Jones in February of this year. I know that the last one was very
well received because we very nearly overran our booking time in the hall.

However, saving the best for last I am sure that members will not need reminding of our greatest triumph. That evening in November 2013 with poet extraordinaire John Hegley. John accompanied, from time to time, by his nephew Paul enthralled, delighted and thoroughly amused an audience of 120 people half of whom were members and the other half guests from afar as Luton. It was a brilliant evening which, we are assured, was equally enjoyed by John Hegley and who knows we may yet persuade him to make a return visit.

All of our speakers have been good and I have just picked out my personal highlights but of course the real highlight is the hard work of Peter Farrow through which we are able to reap the rewards every month.
Another of Peter’s triumphs was the annual outing, last year to Bressingham Gardens and Steam Museum in Norfolk. Forty members enjoyed a really pleasant day with the weather almost perfect for the day, not too hot and just an occasional hint of rain. So not only did Peter  select a fantastic venue, he also managed the weather, ensured we had a safe and comfortable journey and generally arranged things to run like clockwork.


Now we come to something that Peter didn’t organise. The annual Christmas Dinner at Dunstable Downs Golf Club. For my sins I have to admit that the event in December of last year was only my second time that I had attended. The first being the previous year. I told you before I was  very much a newcomer to the Group. Anyway the Dinner organised by Terri Aubrey and Terry Oliver was another very successful outing and your Committee have resolved to go back there again this year on Friday 5th December. So please put that date in your diary now.


Whilst we are feeling appreciative can I also mention the other equally important members of your Committee.
Jane Payton – your Secretary – Jane strives to make sense of our committee meetings, not an easy task and, when she is not visiting Ken’s homeland, writes the reports on our monthly meetings. She has also been instrumental in our work with the Village School on the World War  I project.
Terri Aubrey – when she is not organising the Annual Dinner she is filling in for Jane doing the meeting reports, getting heavily involved in the World War I project and doing the refreshments at the monthly meetings.
Terry Oliver – Terry’s job is clearly to keep us on our toes and to maintain the standards he has set over the years. He assists in the arrangements for the  Annual Dinner and above all is the fount of all knowledge to whom we all turn in relation to the history of the Group, the village and anything to do with the War Memorial and the World War I project.
David Lenton – David is the one with the young mind, knowledge of computers  and the one who keeps us old fogies on track, or more accurately, gets us back on track when we wander off it.
Colin Stonestreet – Treasurer – You will hear from Colin shortly unless of course he has carried out his threat to go and research the Cayman Islands as a base for our bank deposit. Seriously though, as you will see from the accounts, Colin is an excellent custodian of our finances and we are all grateful for his efforts in that regard.

Finally a couple of other people to thank. Sheila Farrow, who,along with Terri Aubrey, provides the refreshments at the monthly meetings,  Norman Aubrey who helps in the background quietly going about his work without people really noticing what he does and Sallie Stonestreet and Joan Bunyan for their sterling work on the door. No I didn’t mean that they are Bouncers!!!


I have made several references to the World War I project and I ought to expand on that a little. With the 100 year anniversary of the start of World War I taking place this year and to commemorate the lives of those men from Caddington who gave their lives in the Great War members of the Committee have been working on the production of a booklet. The booklet will contain information researched and collated by Terry Oliveron the 20 servicemen and 1 civilian from the 1914-18 War whose names appear on the village War Memorial as well other information about the men that has been put together by members of the Committee. It is intended to publish the booklet before August 2014.

As an adjunct to this work Jane has been coordinating work with pupils from the Village School in relation to research for a trip they have since undertaken to France and Belgium to visit various sites relating to the First World War, particularly in regard to servicemen from Caddington who were killed in the conflict.

There is no doubt that the project, whilst in many ways rewarding, has been hard work.

As you may be aware 2015 will be the 21st anniversary of the establishment of Caddhist and your Committee are proposing that we should mark that occasion in a suitable way. Nothing has yet been decided on how we might do this other than the publication of an anniversary booklet so if you have any bright ideas please talk to one of the Committee members.

I was recently approached by a member who queried why the single membership subscription is disproportionately high compared to that for a couple.  The thinking behind the subscription structure historically lies in the cost of producing our newsletters and the fact that couples received only one newsletter between  and not one each.
The suggestion by the member that higher single member subscription “penalised” those members has met with sympathy from your Committee and it coincides with a review of the Group’s finances and the way in which we want to distribute newsletters in future. Many of us are now on e-mail and we are proposing to use this method more frequently for our correspondence. This will, for example, reduce the printing costs associated with the newsletter.
But, I hear you ask, what happens if I don’t have e-mail? Don’t worry you will continue to receive correspondence including newsletters in hard copy. It is essential that no-one gets left out.
So, what are we proposing on subscriptions for the future? Unfortunately it is a little late for the current year as most, if not all, of you will have renewed your subscription for 2014/2015. However, you are now being asked to vote on the subscription levels for 2015/2016. This is very much a matter for the membership and not just for the Committee.
As Chairman I would like to propose a flat rate subscription of £5.00 per member with effect from 1st April 2015.
I am happy to listen to any comments, counter proposals but is my proposal seconded?

Thank you and that leads me nicely on to my next topic the position of Distribution Officer.
The Committee recognises that we need to be smarter, more efficient and more timely in our distribution of correspondence and information. Although only one Committee member is in “proper” employment all of the others do have calls on their time. You know how busy it can be being retired!!!
We are therefore looking for a volunteer to be the Group’s Distribution Officer. The duties will include:
The assembly of the newsletters  and the annual subscription pro-forma.
Coordination of the delivery of newsletters by e-mail and by hand– hopefully we still have a volunteer to tramp the streets – many thanks to Sue and Maurice Taylor
Upkeep of the Group’s library.
Any questions? You don’t have to volunteer right now but we would like to know if you are interested.

Officers of the Group
Shortly we will have the elections for the Group’s officers and this is an example of where we have slightly fallen down on our communication with the membership. For this I apologise.
Therefore although I understand that all of the current Committee will, however reluctantly, stand for re-election I would invite anyone who wishes to stand for any of the posts, including that of Distribution Officer to make their position known as we go through the election process. I can assure you that none of us will be in the least embarrassed if there is someone else who wants to take on our role.

Departed members
Sadly during the last 12 months we have lost 3 of our members, David Moore, Ethel Green and Valerie Lee. We remember them with fondness and our thoughts once again go to their families.

Finally then and to much sighing of relief I have come to the end of my report. If you wish me to continue next year I will certainly do so but equally I will not be offended if someone else wants to take on this role.
Thank you for your patience, your kind comments throughout the year and for being so supportive of this Group.

John Harper