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Notes of the Half Year meeting held on board SS Shieldhall on 6th November 2016

The meeting opened at 11.00 hrs with 42 members in attendance plus the following representatives of the Executive: Doug Brodie (Chairman), David Rice (Treasurer), James Robson (Secretary), Barry Eagles, Tony Holley, Andy Mabbett, Peter Sheppard, Paul Smith 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. He noted that for the second year running, passenger numbers had been the highest recorded and that Shieldhall had again achieved a Trip Advisor rating as the top family attraction in Southampton. Dry dock had gone well with a successful rudder inspection and maintenance works within budget. A meeting with the new Port Director had provided reassurance that Shieldhall was welcome in the port albeit the allocated berth was unlikely to change in the short term.

Derek Burke reported continued good progress for the Trading Company which had benefitted from improved catering services and the upgrading of facilities for passengers. Passenger numbers had benefitted from contracts with coach companies and the range of trips offered appeared to meet public demand.  Plans for the 2017 sailing season were well advanced and a programme of cruises was expected to be released before Christmas. He emphasised the need for continuing improvement in the professionalism of services offered and gave examples of changes that could be implemented. Most importantly the Board was seeking someone to take on the management of Front of House services. 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 2017.

Dave Rice informed the membership that 2016 had been a successful year for the Trading Company with a record level of income in excess of £90,000. For the first time ever the Trading Company had returned a profit and would make a contribution to the Charity reserves. The Catering Company and Shieldhall Shop had also benefitted from increased passenger numbers and would be making a contribution to the Charity funds. The bi-annual dry docking had been completed within budget at a total cost of £72,000. It was greatly appreciated that £50,000 of the total dry dock cost had been raised from member donations. In conclusion, the Treasurer reported a satisfactory financial position with healthy reserves and a strong balance sheet.
James Robson reported the progress of Rule Changes as approved at the AGM. He reminded members of the background and consultation process associated with the changes which had now been approved, subject to minor clarifications, by the Regulator. The new Rules would be effective from November 2016; a copy would be posted on the website in due course.

Jim Cusiter reported that the Society currently has 821 members with a net increase of 5 new members in the current year. He reported that membership currently generated subscriptions of approx. £11,000 per annum. Members were reminded that the fees would increase from April 2017 in line with the AGM resolution, those paying by Standing Order were requested to make an early change to their bank mandate.

Graham Mackenzie reported on the progress of the Heritage Lottery funded refurbishment programme which was now in the final stages of delivery. Expenditure was on budget and provision had been made for officer and crew training to further improve efficiency. Overall the programme had gone extremely well and Shieldhall had been complimented on the management of the grant and efficiency of work undertaken.

The Chairman thanked members of the Executive and Board for their hard work during the year. He also thanked Members for their response to the Dry Dock Appeal. Whilst it was reassuring to hear that the Society was in a much better place financially than had been the case in previous years, it was important to continue fundraising to meet future need. 

A presentation was made of the ‘Highly Commended’ certificate to Graham Mackenzie on behalf of  “The Marsh Christian Volunteer Awards for Historic Vessel Conservation 2016”. Additionally Norman Tulip received an award from our society in recognition of his long service to the ship. 

A number of questions and comments were invited from the floor including:
–    A request that Membership Application forms be made more widely available
–    Suggestions for the locating of publicity leaflets
–    A suggested inclusion of membership application detail on till rolls
–    The importance of and measures to be taken to ensure a timely departure on cruises and delivery of a programme as advertised (which led to further discussion of operational and crew/passenger number issues)

Nigel Philpott updated the meeting on plans for the 2017 sailing season, the introduction of Gift Cards and further improvements to the ticketing process.

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. He thanked members for attending. The AGM 2017 would be on Sunday 9th April at 11.00 hrs.

The meeting closed at 12.10.                                    

JR Hon Secretary 10 November 2016