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Notes of the Half Year meeting held on board SS Shieldhall on 2nd November 2014

The meeting opened at 11.00 hrs with 38 members in attendance plus the following representatives of the Executive: Doug Brodie (Chairman), David Rice (Treasurer), James Robson (Secretary), Sam Dobell, Tony Holley, Rosie Jacob, Edwina Cooke, Peter Roberts and George Sloss.

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 busy year for the Charity with the continuation of works supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. He offered thanks to the lottery team in overseeing the works in dry dock at the beginning of the year and to all crew members in supporting a busy sailing season. He noted that passenger numbers had increased with a wider range of cruises on offer. Particular success had been noted with the introduction of short cruises, family activities and themed sailings. Alongside activities had also been busy with an increase in the number of youth training days. He commended the work of all volunteers in keeping the ship in good order and supporting a busy programme of activities. The year ahead would present further challenges as refurbishment of the ship continued. Continued growth in passenger numbers, attracting more members and volunteers and fundraising for future dry dock and maintenance would all be priorities.

Derek Burke reported progress of the Trading Company which had been restructured with clear roles and responsibilities for all of the Board members. He commended the work of Mike Lawler in the galley in delivering catering services during a busy season. Further assistance had been introduced this year with the exploration of external caterers  to support a number of cruises, this would be reviewed and further developed for the 2015 season. Licensing of the ship had taken a long time but had now been resolved with the appointment of a Premises Supervisor (Derek Burke) and formal authority to those serving behind the bar. More help was needed both in catering and front of house activities to ensure the continued improvement of customer services.

Dave Rice explained to members the requirement for a formal audit of accounts as a consequence of the Lottery funding and increased activity. A new external accountant had been appointed to support us in this task. Income and expenditure for the year would be significantly higher than in the past, due in part to the work being carried out and an increase of 60% plus in passenger numbers in 2014. There had been some beneficial effect from a small reduction in fuel cost and savings on Port Dues and Pilotage. Overall it was likely that the Society would show a loss for the year due to the high levels of in year expenditure. However, cash flow was positive and both Trading and Catering companies would be in a position to make a contribution to the Charity. He reported a satisfactory financial position to members.

Edwina Cooke reported that membership stood at 468 annual paying members of whom 31 were new members. In addition there were approx. 400 life and honorary members. The role of membership Secretary was soon to pass to Jim Cusiter. Members thanked Edwina for her contribution.

Graham Mackenzie reminded members of the parameters for the Lottery grant and the complex administration process. He provided a comprehensive report of work undertaken to date and encouraged members to visit the website for a photographic record of this year’s dry docking and further works. He commended the work of Paul Smith and Lewis Folland in developing the new web site and on line ticketing. A new logo had been designed and was now in use with templates for correspondence etc. Graham noted the success of short and themed cruises this year and hoped these would be continued. Bulwark and funnel repairs were now taking place and a new generator would be delivered at year end. Early next year work would start on a number of internal refurbishments and upgrades which would further improve the passenger experience and improve crew facilities. An Interpretation Consultant (Henry Lyndsay) had been appointed and work with Culture Force was on going. Graham thanked all of his support team for help in an exceptionally busy year.

Doug Brodie thanked all contributing officers for a comprehensive update for members. He reminded all present that the future of Shieldhall depended solely on the volunteer effort and urged all present to introduce more members and active volunteers. He pointed out that decisions were taken on behalf of members by the Executive who were representative of the members and voted in by the membership. Involvement of the members in the Executive was important and provided the opportunity for new and different approaches to be introduced. A number of Executive posts would fall due for renewal at the AGM and he urged all members to consider applying. As the lottery works drew to a close attention would have to turn to fundraising for future dry docking and maintenance of the ship, help was needed to take these challenges forward. It was the view of the Executive that attracting more corporate business was essential and again support and expert help would be needed, members were urged to engage in the process.

Questions and comments were invited from the floor;

-A suggestion that Southampton football club be invited to become involved in activities and corporate events was discussed. Marketing representatives and others had tried to engage in the past without success but it was agreed that the possibility should remain on the agenda

-Availability of the 2015 programme was discussed and a first draft was now with the Board to consider. The programme would be published in due course.

-A question was asked in respect of filming income which had improved this year but represented a single contribution with no on-going royalty payments.

-The history and current management of the on board Gift Shop was discussed with a variety of views put forward on how income might be increased.

-It was confirmed that the new logo had been agreed by a majority of the Executive and was now formally adopted.

-The Shieldhall magazine editor emphasised the importance of meeting copy deadlines if the magazine was to be distributed on time and provide sufficient notice of meetings and activities.

The meeting closed at 12.30.

The date of the Annual General Meeting 2015 was set as Sunday 12th April at 11.00 hrs on board Shieldhall.

JR

Hon Secretary

04 November 2014