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Notes of the Half Year meeting held on board SS Shieldhall – 26th November 2012

The meeting opened at 11.00 hrs with 43 members in attendance.

The Chairman, Doug Brodie (DB), welcomed all present and called for a silence in memory of recently departed colleague John Hollis and members who had “crossed the bar” since the last General Meeting.

DB explained that the Half Year meeting was a less formal event than the AGM and served primarily to keep members updated and to answer questions. No formal business would be transacted but notes of the meeting would be made available to members.

DB reminded members of events that had caused an unexpected return to Falmouth in May 2011 and the subsequent extended period of time in dry dock. He reported the significant strain this had placed on financial reserves and consequences for the 2011 sailing season. Following hard work by many members of the working crew and supporters the ship had been returned to a state of seaworthiness and allowed to undertake a limited sailing programme in 2012.

Overall, 2012 had been a successful sailing season in spite of poor weather conditions for many sailings. The year had been profitable and finances at the year-end were healthy. Securing a stage 1 Lottery grant had enabled investigations to be carried out to develop a thorough understanding of remedial work needed to bring the ship back to a full operational status and to improve our passenger’s experience. Considerable energy was now being applied to secure a stage 2 Lottery grant which would enable us to make significant improvements to the ship, apply for a more flexible registration and thereby create the opportunity to attract greater revenue in the future.

A number of personnel changes had taken place. A new catering team had taken up post at the beginning of the season which had been beneficial for the ship. More recently Richard Walker had been obliged for health reasons to relinquish his roles as Treasurer, Web Master and Ticket Manager. Dave Rice had taken on the Treasurer position and Lewis Folland was now the Webmaster. A vacancy currently existed for the Ticket Manager. Chris Lowe had taken on marketing as an interim measure although he and the Executive felt he could make a greater contribution in the training role, this left an urgent vacancy for a Marketing Manager.

DB asked all members to consider how they might further assist in the running of the ship. Whilst working parties were the visual face of maintaining Shieldhall, important tasks needed to be done behind the scenes. Urgent and essential posts needed to be filled including those of MD of the Trading Company, a Marketing Manager and the Ticketing role. He appealed for volunteers to come forward.

DB commended the work of all involved in preparing the stage 2 Lottery bid, in particular Graham Mackenzie who was leading the project. A vote of thanks to Graham was passed unanimously. 

Finally, DB announced plans for a major heritage event to take place in Southampton on 5th and 6th of May 2013 to mark the arrival of the tug Challenge in the port. Further detail would be published on the website in due course.

The report of the Trading Company was read to the meeting with key messages as follows:

  • We are making good progress with the stage 2 Lottery grant application but the amount of money we are seeking is considerably higher than earlier estimates due primarily to the cost associated with asbestos removal and hull repairs.
  • If successful with our bid, work is planned to start on conclusion of the 2013 sailing season and we will become an “employer” for the first time.
  • We will know the outcome of our bid mid March 2013.
  • It has been a good trading year with in excess of 2,000 passengers carried. All departments have worked well to make this year a success.
  • We have an urgent need for new volunteers, particularly people willing to take on the key roles currently vacant and identified for the near future.
  • 2013 will start with the Maritime Festival on 5&6 May. We plan to attend the start of the Cowes to Monte Carlo powerboat race and in addition to our regular cruise programme plan to offer dining and short cruises as a new venture.
  • Our biggest challenges and risks looking ahead are the cost of fuel and maintaining Certificates of Competence.
  • As MD of the Trading Company, Graham Mackenzie appeals to all members to take at least one trip on Shieldhall next year in what will be the 25th anniversary of her ownership by Solent Steam Packet Ltd.

The Treasurer confirmed a satisfactory year-end financial position with all creditors paid to date.

The Membership Secretary reported a current total membership of 917 which compared favourably with 905 members one year previously.

Fundraising suggestions from the floor included further work with the Nuffield Theatre, a real ale event, cruises linked to new arrivals in the port, the selling of advertising opportunities and improved availability of publicity leaflets.

Bob Stevens registered a request on behalf of Dunkirk Little Ships for the supply of a Gardiner engine or similar.

Peter Sheppard reminded members of the mobile phone and ink cartridge recycling scheme.

In conclusion, a presentation was made to Barry Eagles in recognition of  his 9 years as Chairman of the Society. Similar acknowledgements of service would be made to Alan  Haslam and John Everett by opportunity.

The meeting closed at 12.50 hrs

JR

Hon Secretary

26 November 2012.

Post meeting announcement

The Annual General Meeting of Solent Steam Packet Ltd will take place on board Shieldhall on Sunday 7th April 2013 commencing 11.00 hrs.