Notes of the Half Year meeting held on board SS Shieldhall on 15th November 2015
The meeting opened at 11.00 hrs with 35 members in attendance plus the following representatives of the Executive: Doug Brodie (Chairman), David Rice (Treasurer), James Robson (Secretary), Sam Dobell, Barry Eagles, Tony Holley and Rosie Jacob.
The Chairman welcomed all present. He 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.
Doug Brodie reported a very busy year for the Charity with the continuation of works supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. He offered thanks to the lottery team and to all crew members in supporting a busy sailing season which had been extremely successful in spite of difficulties relating to berth changes and weather. He noted that passenger numbers had been the highest recorded and that Shieldhall had been listed on Trip Advisor as the top family attraction in Southampton.
Derek Burke reported continued good progress for the Trading Company which had benefited from improved catering services and the upgrading of facilities for passengers. He stressed the importance of attracting new members and offering an innovative program. Plans for the 2016 sailing season were well advanced and a programme of cruises was expected to be released before Christmas. Negotiations with ABP to mitigate the effect of using berth 110 as a base for operations were on going. The Board structure was now well established with clear roles and a sharing of the workload across all Board members. He thanked the Board for their support and assured the Membership that the Trading Company would continue to develop a broad appeal programme of sailings and activities for 2016.
Dave Rice informed the membership that 2015 had been a successful year for the Trading Company with ticket sales in excess of £80,000, representing a record level of income. However, against this achievement, a number of exceptional costs had arisen attributable to the change of berth, in particular costs relating to towage and generator hire. Overall the year had been a financial success but he was not expecting any significant contribution from the Trading Company to the Charity. The Catering Company and Shieldhall Shop had also benefitted from increased passenger numbers and would be making a contribution to the Charity funds. As the Society moved toward 2016 and the essential dry docking of the ship, the Treasurer considered that reserves of approximately £60,000 could be used to fund the dry dock costs plus an additional £11,000 raised so far from members. Whilst this represented a very positive start to the fundraising process he considered that the challenge of reaching the £100,000 target for dry dock should not be underestimated. In conclusion, the Treasurer reported a satisfactory financial position to members.
The Chairman reinforced the need to raise additional funds and invited the Secretary to outline the fundraising structure currently in place and plans for the future. James Robson reported on work that was on going in attracting both funds and benefits in kind to support the viability of the ship. He described the strands of fundraising in place and the progress of each initiative. He emphasised the need for greater support and investment into raising funds on an ongoing basis.
The Chairman congratulated all involved in raising the funds so far available and thanked Members for their response to the Dry Dock Appeal. He considered this to be the single greatest challenge faced by the Society and urged a redoubling of efforts to reach the financial target. He invited further comment and ideas from the floor which included:
-Giving members something back for their donations
-The launch of the Shieldhall calendar for 2016
-Increasing membership subscriptions
-Improved benefits for members
-Greater discounts for Life members
-Introduction of Direct Debit
-A membership lottery scheme
-Improved discounts on bookings
-First sailing discount
-Registered disabled discounts
-Removing all discounts
Graham Mackenzie provided a comprehensive report of work undertaken to date utilising the grant provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Key progress during the year included improvements to passenger facilities, machinery installation and interpretation signage. Early in 2016 a new emergency generator would be installed and work would commence on the Saloon refurbishment. Excellent progress had been made in delivery of Learning and Community activities with the continued development of youth training, Heritage Open Days and attracting Music in the City. The Lottery Project would continue to the end of 2016 and would now enter a critical phase of evaluation to ensure that we had delivered all that we had promised in order to secure the final phase of funding.
A report was read from the Membership Secretary in which he advised that current membership stood at 792 a reduction on the previous year caused in part by a correction of historical records but reflecting a drop in the number of new members joining. He reported on plans for improving membership administration and attracting additional members.
Norman Tulip reported in his capacity as Superintendent Engineer on work to be undertaken during the winter maintenance period and at dry dock in 2016. He advised the meeting of an unexpected addition to the work programme whereby the MCA required that a specific survey of the boilers was required necessitating removal of all cladding and specialist seam testing at an estimated additional cost of £21,000. Plans were in hand to engage a company to carry out the work and to secure the funding required.
Doug Brodie thanked all contributing officers for a comprehensive update for members. He reminded the meeting that the future of Shieldhall depended solely on the volunteer effort and urged all present to introduce more members and active volunteers. In 2016 a number of the current Executive would reach the end of their term of office and he encouraged all members to become further involved and to consider applying. Continued uncertainty over berthing arrangements cast a shadow over future plans that needed to be resolved urgently and he was aware that the Trading Company was doing everything possible to resolve this issue. If 110 berth was to become Shieldhall’s home for the foreseeable future, work would be needed to improve the environment and ensure crew and passenger safety. Such an arrangement would also impact on the ability to attract function business to the ship. However, he was confident that these issues would be overcome and that 2016 would be another successful season. He thanked members for attending.
The meeting closed at 12.30.
The date of the Annual General Meeting 2016 has been set as Sunday 17th April at 11.00 hrs on board Shieldhall.
20 November 2015