THAMES VALLEY NETWORK
Representatives Meeting held
at The Morrell Rooms, Streatley on 27 November 2009
Present: Anthony Burdall (Chairman), John Brandis (Haddenham), Agnes Budagowska (Swindon), Margaret Bultitude (South Bucks), Sue Chainey (Ridgeway), Pat Davey (Maidenhead), Jeannie Dickie (Swindon), Margaret Edmondson (Wallingford), Anne Gould (Abingdon), Wendy Griffiths (Princes Risborough), Victoria Hammond (South Bucks), Pat Jewell (Ridgeway), Pam Jones (Witney), Colin Mitchell (S.E. Region Trustee), June Morris (Abingdon), Pam Palmer (Bracknell), Charlie Pelling (Carterton), Mark Phillips (Thameside, Wallingford), Mike Price (Greater Thame), Jenny Sakomoto (Banbury), Brand Sharpe (Wendover), Isobel Sheppard (Goring), Len Smith (Wokingham), Joan Thomas (Banbury), Patsy Thornton (Wokingham), Pat Ward (Carterton), Geoff Young (Aylesbury Vale). (27)
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE: Adam Cave (Newbury), Ian Clarkson (Faringdon), Andrew Gordon (Bicester), Peter Jarvis (Thatcham), Martin McBride (Carterton), Colin Sear (Chinnor & District), Mary Trout (Reading)
MINUTES OF LAST MEETING
Comments on Minutes Meeting 22.09.09. a) date missing b) Margaret Edmondson (Wallingford) had sent apologies which were not registered in Minutes. Pam Jones apologized.
Actions arising. None.
Any other matters arising: Mark Phillips queried what was meant by ‘we lack formal research into ourselves’ under 8.0. This was interpreted as 3rd Agers carrying out research on 3rd Agers, rather than other age groups carrying out the research. Peter Jarvis has arranged to meet the National Coordinator on Research. One member of Wokingham U3A has shown interest in learning more about any project on this issue.
REPORT OF NETWORK COMMITTEE
Chairman’s Report: Anthony commented that matters for further discussion will arise on the agenda. He was delighted to welcome newly affiliated South Bucks U3A to the meeting.
He reported that we have a significant financial surplus. The Network Committee had considered how it could best be used and felt that £2,000 should be reserved as a buffer but that the remainder should be used to benefit members. The Group Leaders day ‘Sharing Experience’ is being planned for Wednesday February 17th In the John Mason School Abingdon. This will be free for all attendees from the Thames Valley Network.
The additional fee of £5 for attendance by non-affiliated members is to remain.
An Events Team will shortly be formed to coordinate future activities.
Brand Sharpe asked if information is sent to non-affiliated U3As. Anthony said that we would do so if given contact details. Anthony commented that the Network is still finding its way and its establishment and development are part of a learning process.
Pat Davey asked when financial year ends. Accounting year is January to December but affiliation fees are paid in line with National Office Capitation Fees in April. AGM is in April/May.
Secretary’s Report. None.
Treasurer’s Report: Martin McBride was unable to attend this meeting but details of accounts had been circulated to all U3As in advance of the meeting. Balance in account as at 01.11.09 is £3,536. Buffer to be £2,000. Accounts accepted by the meeting.
Colin reported that in travelling round the Region, it is interesting to see how different Networks operate. We are the second largest. The Sussex Network is bigger. The all run study days and all have problems.
With reference to Crawley U3A’s proposal at the National Conference this year, to increase representation on the NEC for the larger regions, Colin has submitted a report to the NEC, which will be going forward on 9th September. Colin suggests that the South East Region should be split and have 2 representatives, one for Thames Valley and Hampshire and one for the remainder of the Region. That would mean less than 80 U3A’s for each representative to look after. Colin hopes that something can be arranged to allow another Trustee for the Region, without having to change the Constitution, as he does not think that a vote at conference would support this.
All Regions organize themselves differently and none has taken the National ‘perfect’ model. The South East Forum (Kent, Sussex and part of Surrey) holds a Summer School, which is advertised nationally and an Annual Conference targeted at themselves but open to us as well. The National Treasurer has indicated that if Thames Valley Network wishes to organize a conference open to all in the South East Region, they will fund it.
Colin stated that he may not seek a 3rd year in office. There are presently 152 U3As in his Region and it is more than he can cope with.
Patsy Thornton of Wokingham U3A is in charge of organizing the Thames Valley Network Conference this year in Wokingham and it is hoped that all delegates will attend at no charge. Agnes Budagowska asked how much funding National would give. Colin hoped that everything except travel would be covered. Agnes then asked what restrictions had been imposed. Colin replied that there can be 2 conferences per year and that one officer of the Third Age Trust must be invited, plus a member from National Office. This would take up the morning of the conference. Patsy Thornton said that the conference is a great forum for meeting each other in workshops and over lunch. The meeting agreed that if the condition of funding is to invite members from the rest of the Region, that should be the case. The South East Forum will be holding a conference too. They have not yet applied for funding but know they will get it. Len Smith commented that Wokingham pays costs for its members attending Conference, so he hopes other U3As will pay travel costs for their members. This might encourage more to come. Anthony told the meeting that they must make the decision. He hadn’t realized that the conference would attract 100% funding but queried if there was not 100% funding, does Wokingham make a loss. He made the point that in the past, organizing U3As passed any surplus to the organizers of the following year’s conference. Since the formation of the Network, the conference would be sponsored and Network would take any loss or profit. Anthony felt that we still need a Thames Valley Network Conference. Can we call it that and still invite neighbouring U3As? Would the name be a stumbling block? Anthony felt that it is up to the host U3A to decide whether or not to apply for funding and to deal with any resulting associated matters.
After much discussion, the proposal that Wokingham should apply for funding for the 2010 Network Conference was accepted by the meeting, subject to the undertaking that should the conference not cover its costs, Wokingham U3A would cover the shortfall. Patsy Thornton agreed to forward results of their application to Anthony Burdall or Pam Jones.
Contacts List: there are new details for Banbury U3A. List will be circulated.
Database of Speakers: no report.
Network website: Len reported an increase in hits to 173 in November. He asked that website details go on all communications. Dissemination of information was discussed. Some U3As send newsletters out by e-mail and post, some all post. Wokingham U3A puts all its newsletters on website but still send out hard copies too. South Bucks had used the website to download Network affiliation form. Len to put a new form on website asking members what they want from the Network.
Programme for 2009: there will be one more Study Day on 28.11.09. ‘Creative Writing’ at Henry Box School, Witney. 55 people had signed up for the day. Pam Jones had been left to do the admin and organization of the day with Isobel Sheppard and this highlighted the need for a committee to share the responsibilities. Anthony asked members what sort of study days, events etc. they want. He always welcomes suggestions/ideas.
Mark Phillips said that Thameside U3A has prepared an Antiques Study Day and is ready to put it on. He outlined the programme, which would involve several venues and all delegates making their own arrangements for lunch. They were arranging speakers, some of whom had accepted. They would be looking at silver/porcelain/jewellery/rare books. Members could bring items for valuation during lunch hour and there would be an ‘Antiques Roadshow ‘ to end the day. Mark was asked for more detail on budget, venues, lunch etc. The Network Committee would be meeting on 4th December and would consider taking this on as one of their Study Days.
Anthony reported that an Events sub-group is being formed to coordinate and mange events. It will meet on 9th December. It is felt that a separate group is needed to deal with the detail of these days. They might need 3 meeting per year and would need to visit venues, negotiate prices, contact speakers etc. Agnes wondered if individual U3As could take on Study Days and work with the Events Team. This would be an ideal arrangement.
Programme for 2010: Network Conference: planning is going well. Budget has been firmed up. If a charge is necessary it would be £16. There are some interesting workshops (one on Study Days!). It is hoped that the Network Chairman will open the conference. Brochure is on website.
Study Days: Historic Towns of Thames Valley: This will develop into a project. A venue is needed for the launch, possibly Rewley House, Oxford. After that, there will be projects in towns in the form of a Shared Learning Project. A lot of people from the towns are needed. Part of the project will be to walk the Thames Path (or parts of it). Groups can take different aspects of it e.g. birdlife on river, painting etc. This will all culminate in a Summer School in 2011. This has to be discussed in depth, with a focus on 3 or 4 towns. The Riverside Project will take in walks and rambles. It is hoped that discussion will sprout further ideas. People interested were asked to talk to Isobel Sheppard after the meeting. Anthony and Patsy have been to see the Rowing Museum at Henley and feel that it would make a good launch-pad but it only holds 80 people(max. 100). The middle of March in Henley was suggested for the launch.
Music Day: Isobel would like the day to be concentrated on composers with anniversaries in 2010. Musicians are considered essential. Brand Sharpe recommended pupils from the Purcell School, Bushey.
Food Science: will definitely be held at the Museum of Rural Life, Reading. There is parking reasonably near. Day to be based on food ethics/marketing/food science. Probably held in October 2010.
History of European Painting: Joanna Hughes would like to be involved with this.
It was emphasized that early dates are vital for publicity.
Sharing Experience – Wednesday 17th February – John Mason School, Abingdon. The day to be based on the publication ‘Time to Learn’. The Chairman of the Third Age Trust, Ian Searle will be the keynote speaker. There will be workshops both morning and afternoon and leaders are required for these. Anthony asked all U3as to propose one or two of their leaders. An after-lunch speaker is required to give a whimsical/humorous talk before the more serious workshops. The day is free but delegates will pay for lunch. The school hall will hold 200 and we can have as many classrooms as we require. Much debate took place about allocation of places vis-a-vis size of U3A. It was decided to initially allocate 6 places per U3A and remaining places would be allocated according to size of U3A. Committee to discuss further.
Summer School, Oxford: only 6 applications received, so probably not viable. Deadline is 31.12.09.
Network Forum: briefly discussed and agreed not necessary.
Network Lunch: Anthony outlined details of a day at Waddesdon Manor, Bucks with lunch. Stumbling block was price differential of £10 between National Trust members and non-members. Day would include a private tour of the house, lunch with waitress service, an after-lunch speaker (possibly on National Trust Conservation), a further look round the house, optional visit to Wine Cellars etc. Price £28 plus the addition for non-members. Agnes Budagowska had done such a trip in the past and the differential had not caused a problem Len Smith felt that the differential pricing was wrong. Much discussion took place but the general feeling was that this was not popular. The overall opinion was that just a lunch was needed and therefore another venue would have to be found.
Programme for 2011: Swindon U3A had agreed to host the conference for 2011. Agnes felt that it would be self-funding. Anthony expressed thanks to Swindon U3A for taking on this project.
Anthony asked if there were any additions to the list of possible topics. Len Smith felt that very few people would be interested in the ‘Global Economy’. Perhaps a smaller venue would work. It was agreed that such issues should be tackled.
Network Training Day: Officers/Recruitment were suggested as topics. If Group Leaders Day is oversubscribed, it could be repeated.
A ‘Bridge’ Day would be discussed at the Events Team meeting.
Summer School: This would be the culmination of the Riverside Project to be held at Wellington College. The school has good facilities and is offering a daily rate of £45. Rooms are not en-suite but there are two hotels close by if people would prefer en-suite facilities.
A request was made to put together a publication at the end of the project. This will be borne in mind.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
A request was made to supply information about groups between U3As. This is deemed impossible because it would always be out of date. The best way of finding out the situation between neighbouring U3As regarding group membership, is to contact the U3As direct as each one has its own rules about dual membership and opening its groups to other U3As.
DATE AND VENUE OF NEXT MEETING: Mon. 22.02.10 in Swindon at 10 for 10.30am. Venue to be notified.