June 2018 Acting Chairman's Chat
As you will read in Colin Bower's report on the latest Executive Committee Meeting, we again discussed the lack of new volunteers and the possibility of recruiting a part-time paid Centre Coordinator for a trial period of 4 months. After much discussion, the proposal was accepted and Geoff Tilston will take up this post on 1st June.
He will be responsible for overseeing the running of the Centre as a whole, including maintenance and caretakers' duties. Of course it will take him a little while to get established, but he does hope to be the person who everyone goes to if they need help or advice, thus relieving Treasurer John Revill of these day-to-day queries so that he can concentrate on his own very important, time-consuming job of looking after our finances. I am sure Geoff will gradually make himself known to you all and he will, of course, be at the AGM.
To date I have not seen any committee nominations for the AGM which is almost upon us. We do need a full Executive Committee to keep the Centre running so do please look at the notice board and vote for at least one person.
May 2018 Acting Chairman's Chat
I was delighted to be invited to join the Art section to celebrate their President's Day when Jan Wells, who has been a member of the section and Centre for 48 years (making her their longest serving member), was appointed their first President. A specially-made trophy will serve as the President's Cup, to be presented each year to the winner of the best picture, as voted by group members. The section's Past Chairman attended and all had very glowing stories to tell about Jan and how she had helped everyone over the years. A very enjoyable afternoon.
I am sure many of you will remember John Chambers, a very loyal, long-serving receptionist and member of the Bowls section who died last October. John's family presented the Centre with a Cup in his memory and the Bowls group is in the throes of a knock-out competition for the award.
In June this year I will have been Acting Chairman for six months (how the time rolls by!) and, with the AGM looming large and nobody coming forward to take my place we are going to be in a sorry position.
The Centre has always prided itself on being volunteer-led, but you must all be aware of our difficulty in recruiting volunteers, particularly for principle roles such as Chairman and Centre Coordinator. As you will see in the summary of the Executive Committee minutes, this problem has been constantly discussed to no avail and, therefore, a proposal has been put forward to take on a paid part-time Centre Manager to oversee day-to-day operation of the Centre. I personally believe this would bring more stability to the Executive and the Centre as a whole. As this is such an important issue in that it deviates from our normal "volunteers only" system, the committee is taking longer to consider it. However, a decision will definitely have to be made at our May meeting in preparation for the AGM.
We have attracted more new members so far this year than we have for several years past, and taken part in a number of town events. We are also adding to our affiliates list and have more hirers coming forward. This is all good for the Centre and its progress, but in order to help us continue in this way we do need your support. I am, therefore, asking you to use the forms in Reception to nominate members you would like to see on the Exec. Committee members to take us through a successful year ahead.
April 2018 Acting Chairman's Chat
I had hoped to start my April report by welcoming Spring, but perhaps that was wishful thinking! So I will start by saying we had a very successful New Members Evening last month. The weather was rather unkind but the Common Room looked warm and inviting. Appreciative thanks must go to Pam Badcock, who was responsible for the catering and decorations. Brochures and the Newsletter were distributed, and committee members explained what the Centre has to offer. Four of our sections were represented - the Art Group’s Chairman Barry Richardson, Chess Group’s Geoff Tilston, Jubilee Singers’ Janet Trow and Table Tennis Chairman Glen Kennedy. Each gave a short description of their activity and new members were invited to take part, making use of the Taster Voucher to see what might interest them.
I have been trying to visit various sections in my “acting” capacity and last month looked in on the Beading Group. What a talented lot of ladies they are, producing a variety of items. A very friendly group who welcomed me and described what they do while, at the same time, enjoying themselves.
I would like to emphasise what the Editor has said about the car park. This an ongoing problem since, with a membership of more than 1,000 and so many activities taking place, there are going to be times when we cannot find a space in our very small car park. Whilst it helps to identify a legitimate member, having a parking permit does not guarantee a space! Also, we do have three designated bays reserved for visitors/speakers which are clearly shown as such and need to be observed. Please do not ignore the notices and take up those spaces. It is very embarrassing for the section involved if their speaker has nowhere to park, even though a space was promised. Your cooperation in this matter will be greatly appreciated.
I will continue to be at the Centre each Friday morning for the next month or so, happy to have a chat with you and get your suggestions and feedback.
March 2018 Acting Chairman's Chat
Well, I seem to have survived the first month in my “acting” role and thank all who have given me help, support and encouragement.
I was extremely pleased and delighted to welcome Reception Manager Brian Barton back to our Executive meeting last month. He has been receiving some quite intensive treatment over a long time, so it’s good to have him with us, hoping he will continue recovery until his health is fully restored. I would like to take this opportunity of thanking Gill Ferguson who has taken over during Brian's absence, and she will continue to assist him for the time being.
Also at that meeting (as you will see from Colin Bower's summary) we were able to welcome not one but two new members onto the committee who, I have no doubt when they have settled in, will bring some valuable skills and new ideas, helping us to move forward with a stronger team.
We have a number of events to look forward to this month. On Friday, 9th March, we have a New Members evening from 6.30 to 9 p.m., with drinks and nibbles in the Common Room. If you have joined us over the last six months do come along and meet your Executive team and learn what the Centre has to offer you for your enjoyment and interest.
On Wednesday, 14th March, Mary Bishop and Gill Ferguson will host a Homemade Cake Day where you can get a drink of your choice along with a slice of cake for 85p. Where else in New Milton could you get that? You are welcome to bring a friend.
I will continue to be at the Centre each Friday morning for the next month or so, pleased to have a chat and get your suggestions and feed-back. I look forward to meeting as many members as I possibly can.
February 2018 Acting Chairman's Chat
Slightly belatedly but nonetheless sincerely meant, I take this opportunity to wish all members, volunteers, affiliates and hirers a very happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.
I also wish to welcome back Sue Lewis, who is responsible for the beautiful, artistic flower arrangements always to be seen in the Centre. They gladden the eye and are very much appreciated.
As mentioned in the editorial, our Chairman has unfortunately decided to resign and I start by joining Phyllis in thanking Michael for all he put into the six months he was with us. He had some good ideas which we will be pleased to review and hopefully implement in the months to come.
Being Acting Chairman was not something I had anticipated as a New Year gift but will do my very best to ensure everything runs smoothly until a new Chairman can be appointed.
At the January Executive meeting I said we should all be very proud to belong to this Centre, run completely by hardworking volunteers, and I thank them ALL for their commitment. We really do appreciate the time and effort put into keeping everything ticking over.
I hope that, by now, you have all renewed your membership since we also need YOUR support over the year ahead. I have visited one or two sections since the Centre opened after the holiday break and hope to call in on more shortly. However, if there is anything you feel will help to keep the Centre viable for everyone please do not hesitate to contact me; my details can be found on page 11 of the latest Newsletter.
If you haven’t already made a New Year Resolution can I suggest that volunteering at the Centre would be a good start? Or you may feel you could help on our Executive Committee. You will be made very welcome to work with like minded people .
I plan to be at the Centre each Friday morning for the next several weeks so please do come and have a chat as I would appreciate receiving your suggestions and feedback. I look forward to meeting as many members as I can.
January 2018 Chairman's Chat.
I wish everyone a Happy New Year. It promises to be both interesting and challenging. For personal reasons Malcolm Swan is stepping down from chairing our Publicity Team where he has done so much to make it successful and worked hard on events for a number of years, finding and motivating teams of volunteers. He will be hard to replace and so, on your behalf, I record appreciation of his support and thank him for the years of effort. The Centre needs someone with enthusiasm to bring the team together, raise our profile in the town, encourage us all to work together especially on future programmes and events. Ideas will be welcomed.
The town's Christmas Festival in November was held on a very cold day, as those volunteers found out when manning our gazebo. Many passers-by took our brochure and leaflets promoting our Open Day. Indoors the smell of hot sausage rolls was a real welcome, and we had a good crowd coming in to enjoy the Centre, learn what we and our affiliates do, and express appreciation of the "welcomers" and café staff. We are grateful to all the volunteers and behind-the-scenes workers. It raised our profile and confirmed our commitment to provide a highly valued service to the community.
The brochure produced by our clever Members Secretary Nigel has been well-received by everyone and, if you have not yet got your copy they are available in Reception. The brochure gives a lot of information about the Centre, both for members and contacts.
Membership renewal is progressing and the questionnaire is an innovation which helps us find out what it is you value about the Centre. To some it may well be a "second home" as there is so much to enjoy. Over the coming year let us work on this together, get to know each other more and put the word around on the benefits of joining us. Social Secretary Pam Badcock is starting work on a get-together of new members and activities in March, so would appreciate some help. She deserves our praise for the Christmas decorations which brought the Centre to life.
Financially, we ended the year in very good health, so thanks are due to John Revill for his work on our accounts. As I mentioned last month, our investments are under review to ensure they meet the new challenges in the market and are appropriate to our future needs in maintaining and enhancing this quite remarkable building. It is a place of consider-able warmth, friendship and enjoyment, and long may it continue to grow. To do so it will need your support as existing volunteers can only do so much.
Missed the 2017 Chats, they can be found HERE.
Missed the 2016 Chats, they can be found HERE.