The meeting started more or less on time and Ruth Bond welcomed everyone, we all stood to sing Jerusalem and then the EGM began. The EGM was for a Special Resolution to pass the new Articles of Association for the various Constitutions for the WI.
Questions were asked from the floor and answers given by various members of the board as well as the legal representative. Some people wanted more plain English rather than legalise. It was explained that this can be difficult due to having to conform to the Charities Commission as well as Registrar of Companies. There was quite a lot of discussion about this as each different Article had to be read. These were the various booklets we were sent to read, pink, blue, green and white. They were all passed, and will be brought into use as soon as possible.Ruth Bond gave her address which was very interesting as usual.
Stephanie Fort gave the Hon Treasurer’s Statement and the accounts and auditor’s report were adopted. The auditors are McIntyre. Voted and passed. Denman made a £300k loss this last year, WI Life remained on target profit and WI Foods is growing. A VAT refund of £500k is expected, membership subs are VAT exempt. However membership subs will be going up in 2014 and this will be decided in July and announced at the ANC in October.
The Standing Orders were voted on and passed.
The adoption of the Annual Review was voted on and passed.
The guest speaker was William Shawcross the new Chairman of the Charity Commission for England and Wales.
Presentations of the cups; Lady Denman & Huxley, Elizabeth Bell & National Quiz Trophies.
Anne Harrison then spoke about Denman. Only 5% of members responded to the questionnaire which was sent out. However the numbers are growing; they are 88% capacity at the moment, there are new courses and new tutors so they are hoping for a further increase. However Denman has been subsidised and this cannot keep happening; it has to be self sufficient. Some of the VAT refund money was used for this. Denman is still struggling so to keep it we need to use it and keep on Doing it for Denman to raise some more funds. If you wish to make a donation make it to Denman.
Anglesey Federation to become incorporated and a discussion and vote taken – passed.
Griff Rhys-Jones who is the President of Civic Voice (Trust) then spoke about the television series he had done for the restoration of old buildings and touched on the buildings in the high street. He was very amusing and made some good points, he really wants to preserve as many old buildings and streets as he possibly can.
Then time for the resolution on the decline of our high streets and town centres.
Lots of discussion and questions from the floor about this; don’t like the wording of the resolution it was not very clear, this caused a problem, there was a lot of discussion about this; too little too late, some members did not think it was a good resolution, car parking seemed to be a major problem in small high streets, quite lively.
Sean Speer from the Campaign for Rural England spoke for the resolution. He wants to revive the high street, which means that money spent locally will stay locally and help the community which is very important. William Micky CBE spoke against the resolution and he said that 25,000 shops had closed between 2000 and 2008 before the recession had started. The fastest change in retailing has occurred with the internet, mobile phones and out-of-town shopping areas which he feels that local shops should have more presence and help themselves more
However the resolution was passed 5,266 for and 758 against = 87.4% majority.
John Humphries from Mastermind and Radio 4 programme was the next speaker and he had asked for questions from the floor, and we could not get through all of them there were so many. However he did answer them with humour and he was serious as well. He had interviewed Margaret Thatcher and the one thing he did say about her was that she always answered the questions put to her. She did not have spin doctors around who she had to speak to first! She also rang him up one morning from the kitchen to discuss something she had just heard on his programme. He asked the Queen if he could interview her and she said no twice and the last time said it would not be by him anyway. I asked who was the most inspiring woman he had interviewed and he said that he was in Soweto when the first votes were being cast by the black people and there was a long queue. He went up to a very elderly woman who was with a younger woman who was heavily pregnant. He asked the older lady what difference this vote would make for her and she said to him nothing, he was taken aback as this was a live interview and he thought it had come to an end, however, the lady then put her hand on the stomach of the pregnant woman and said “but it will make a lot of difference to this baby.” He said he was quite moved by this statement. A very entertaining speaker.
The next guest speaker was Jonathan Willcocks, who is a musician and he had written a little song, and put us through our paces learning the chorus, then we all had to stand and sing the chorus and do some exercises to it at the same time, quite good fun at the end of the afternoon.
Both anthems were sung, and the National Anthem as well.