Cloud Recording – Volunteers Meeting is now available to view online
I had hoped by now I would be able to update you on Shieldhall matters in person, alas we have some way to go before restrictions on meetings are lifted. The planned onboard meeting scheduled for late October / early November has been cancelled due to the COVID restrictions.
Whilst the ship did not move, my fellow Trustees worked long hours preparing for the successful changeover of the management of Shieldhall from a community Benefit Society, to a registered charity with the Charity Commission. The 13th May was my last presentation to you so I will take this opportunity to explain what is happening in the new charity.
We planned the change to become a charity very carefully, as a result of this, the changeover was completed in weeks and not in the customarily months of correspondence that is often experienced by others in a similar position to ours.
Once we had received the Charity number 1189197, we again targeted a fast handover of responsibilities from Solent Steam Packet Ltd, this was achieved on 1st July when I advised you Shieldhall Charity had been assigned overall responsibility for the management and operation of Steamship Shieldhall.
I am aware some volunteers have not fully understood the implications of this change. Let me explain the key reason, the charity has greater access to potential funding when compared to those available to a Community Benevolent Society. However in so doing, the Charity must take full responsibility for all of Steamship Shieldhall activities and all associated liabilities.
The Board of Trustees must demonstrate compliance with the Charity Commission regulations.
To give you an insight into the recent work of the Board of Trustees:
- Six policies were written;
- All operating working practices were considered and are now including the update Domestic Management System;
- Risk register was created and actions put in place to mitigate risk;
- Conservation Management Plan was reviewed;
- Review of the Risk Assessment of all activities, looking at the safety of passengers and volunteers and at protection of the environment, some improvements being made;
- IT security and online filing was reviewed and endorsement of a new web site that has come online today;
- Consideration was given on how our volunteers work, we designed role profiles for all trustees, officers, heads of departments, superintendents and key members of the crew;
- Last but not least, the creation of a new Administration Manual to pull together all the above paperwork into one source for ease of reference.
For the sake of clarity, Solent Steam Packet Ltd remains the owner of the the asset and the ECM receives an annual operations report on the performance of the Charity. The Charity Commission insists the Charity must be seen to be operating independently of Solent Steam Packet Ltd, therefore the minutes of the Board meetings are not circulated to the ECM. The ECM will normally meet twice per year with the formal report from the Charity presented at the AGM.
It is very important to appreciate, Shieldhall must now seen to be operating as a working passenger ship of historic interest and is no longer a restoration project which the ECM has so ably managed in the past.
The Board has a vision to keep Shieldhall working until 2050, to do this the Board of Trustees has adopted an approach that is often seen in a professional shipping company. The Board resists interfering with routine operations and now concentrates on strategic matters to ensure the ship’s financial survival for the future.
No one is trying to undermine the fact the skills of volunteers are essential in maintaining and operating Shieldhall, these competences and experiences are now channelled through the Operations Committee. This operations team have worked in challenging circumstances, but through strict restrictions using small work teams on four days every week, the Deck and Engineering maintenance work has continued. Evidence of their hard work is clear to see, thank you to those involved in this work, I know more want to be involved but we must restrict the numbers onboard at any moment in time.
The Operations Committee has looked to see how the ship can operate in 2021.
- The next dry dock is now scheduled for Falmouth in April;
- The sailing programme will start 15/16 May;
- COVID compliance review confirmed the signage and screens etc. needed; with tickets sales capped at 100 per sailing until restrictions are lifted;
- Defined passenger tariffs, revised the terms and conditions of carriage, and produced guidelines for Concession tickets;
- Set up a bridge manning sub-committee to address the shortage of qualified volunteers
- Investigated fuel seepage from the Starboard bunker tanks, this will require limited replacement of the side shell plating and will be included in the scope of work for the next dry dock.
- Proposal developed for a short safety video to brief passengers to highlight access onboard and the need for crew to wear safety clothing and footwear.
Turning now to financial matters –
There is a requirement to create new bank accounts for the Charity and to introduce new sources of funding through e.g. the 50/50 lottery, what we had hoped was going to be easy task has proved to be very time consuming but we are now ready to launch this new initiative. There will also need to be some changes to Shieldhall Trading that we will implement at the end of the financial year.
A mention of Graham Mackenzie and a David Rice work, we have again been successful with two more applications to the National Lottery Heritage Funding, our 10th grant to date.
The Board has looked at the Charity’s finances and decided a ‘Reserve Fund’ should be established, this will be used in the event of a major incident or catastrophic failure of equipment. £250,000 has now been set aside as the reserve, this we believe this is a prudent course of action.
A Fundraising Committee has been created to source new methods of funding through sponsorship and new income from hosting events onboard. A request for a “wish list” asking for items that may need replacing in the next 5 years or new additions needed to enhance the passenger experience when visiting Shieldhall. Your response to our request revealed many items costing over £300,000 within the next five years, a sizeable number of these we plan to fund before the start of the 2021 sailing programme. One important improvement will be to enhance the visitors’ experience, this includes first impressions when approaching the ship and includes improvements to the bar and catering capability when onboard, aiming to reduce waiting times and improve the range and quality of food available.
The committee is now focused on recruiting corporate sponsors and other new sources of funding.
The Resilience Project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, was set up to look at the future sustainability of the organisation and from that, the setting up of the charity was a direct result. Governance and succession planning was one of the main items and also, critically looking at our future location and a resulting business plan. We have completed the ‘Bowles Green’ Governance Review and Succession Plan, their recommendations are being considered with action plans in place. The ‘CounterCulture’ Locations study, whilst supporting a berth in Southampton, it also provided alternative ports that could be considered, should the need ever arise in the future. We are now working with CounterCulture to help develop a 5 years business plan.
I will now turn to the work we have been working on to secure a resident berth in the port of Southampton. We have met with ABP managers on several occasions and we are increasingly confident Berth 110 will be the home of Shieldhall in the future. The Port Director, General Manager and Port Engineer have taken time out of their busy schedules to help find solutions to our problems and concerns.
The ABP Port Engineer met with Southampton City Council Heritage staff to clarify any requirements needed to allow improvements in the approach to Berth 110. We have agreed a scope of work with him to allow passengers to safely board the ship at Berth 110 and for this to be the berth for all future sailings, in addition to have the ability to host events onboard throughout the year.
Work has already started on clearing the area and my thanks to those volunteers that approached this work with such vigour. On Tuesday Solent Stevedores workers with fork lift truck will clear old metal covers currently lying next to the pump house, move the blue ticketing container, place piles on the slipway to accommodate more car parking.
We already have an acceptable quote from Acorn Buildings for work to repair the surfaces to the deck and to install wooden decking adjacent to the ticketing office container. We are starting enquiries to install lightweight fence covers that will also depict the story of Shieldhall and to install this on the 50 meters approach to the ship.
The intention for the start of the 2021 sailing season is the Blue container used for ticketing will be repainted and moved with a wood decking close to the area in order to level off the uneven surfaces on the walkway used by passengers who will then be directed by the ‘Herris’ fencing with a lightweight covering with pictures and inscriptions that describe the history of Shieldhall. Arriving onboard we they will see new chairs in the saloon, new tables and chairs on the Boat deck and a new Public Announcement system.
ABP management team are meeting this week with a follow up meeting with me next week to discuss the future use of the berth, the control of passenger car parking and other important requirements need by both parties to secure the long term future use of the berth. I am approaching this meeting with the knowledge that the management are keen to find a solution, they have already expended many hours creating plans ready for this work and agreed to the work that we have already started.
During the winter months we will be actively seeking new Trustees, those that can bring new skills and experience to help the Charity develop Shieldhall. We now have Haydn Chappell as an advisor to the Board and seeking persons with new skill sets we can use to help us enhance the Shieldhall experience by offering the ship as a venue for corporate and private events. We also need to consider how we can offer an active community and education programme. We hope the expansion of events will also see an increase in membership.
That completes my report, I hope you find this useful and informative. In preparing for this meeting I looked back at what has been achieved and where we have been unsuccessful. I am delighted to say, the recent successes with Santander and the new web site means there have been no failure in what we set out to do. In the current circumstances, this is truly a remarkable achievement, all of this is due to the work of you, our volunteers. Take pride on what has been achieved, then let’s set about completing the next stage of improvements in preparation for the 2021 sailing programme and introducing new events onboard.
My sincere thanks to every one of you, whatever your contribution it is making a difference.
I will be pleased to take any questions you may have.
TOPICS RAISED IN DISCUSSION
- It was clarified that Work Group on Bridge Recruitment has yet started and will be launched at the next meeting of the Ops Comm.
- Covid measures for the 2021 sailing season are being developed but will not be implemented until early 2021 in case requirements change.
- It is planned that passenger parking will be provided on ABP land within the port and buses used for transport to the ship. Specific location is still under discussion with ABP.
- ABP are carryout work on the slipway at berth 110 to improve volunteer parking.
- The Charity will cover the cost of other work at Berth 110
- A wishlist of potential future improvements to the ship is being prepared with the intention that future legacies or donations can be linked to a specific project.
- The ‘Blue Box’ will need an electrical supply from a generator/batteries or other means.
- Resurrecting previous work on windscreen stickers that can be used for advertising Shieldhall and double up as parking permits was suggested.
- With the proposed new arrangement for passenger access to the ship at Berth 110, decking needs to be suitable for wheelchairs and the overall arrangement needs to be suitable for ambulance and other vehicle access to the ship.
There were 39 attendees at the meeting.
1st Oct 2020