The 2022 SRS AGM in Words and Pictures
Martin Fisher, the Company Secretary reports:
Due to Covid 19, this was the first Society AGM since 2019 to be held in a traditional manner. With the Hallmark Hotel in Derby currently unavailable, the 2022 AGM was transferred to Crewe Heritage Centre although this meant we were unable to hold our gathering in close proximity to that of the Austrian Railway Group. It was decided to dispense with both a Friday evening talk and the formal Saturday evening meal and talk.
About 100 people signed in and some 70 members attended the AGM itself. Four layouts were on view in Saturday’s exhibition. John Brightwell brought his N-scale “Alpenbahn and Gordon Wiseman exhibited his N-scale “Chamossaire” influenced by the SBB/BLS. “Santa Maria”, an HOm layout with an RhB theme, was shown by Dan Spalding and Axel Klozenbuecher exhibited “Preuninger Alm”, his HOe Austrian layout, although unfortunately damage in transit made the layout inoperable on the day. John Evans brought a display of over 50 models of Swiss postbuses. There were several trade and Society stands. The former included Contikits, NScaleCH, Hornby International and Gerald Savine. The Italian Railways Society had a stand and we discovered the answer to the long-standing question “Where’s Heidi?”- as she was present with her partner and father (Tony Bagwell) running a family sales stand. The SRS’ customary Bring & Buy stall was supplemented by a stand offering surplus publications collected in the course of work on the Society’s archive. As usual on these occasions, the Society’s Sales stand had a range of products, including the new book about Swiss steam locomotives.
The Chairman, Roger Ellis, noted that in the three years since it had been possible to hold a conventional AGM, a number of members had sadly passed away including Brian Hemming, Jan Howsam, Bryan Stone and the society’s President Alan Pike. During the pandemic, the Board had agreed the award of honorary Life Membership to Malcolm Bulpitt and John Jesson; the present meeting was the first opportunity since to thank both for their service to the Society. Roger also thanked Glyn Jones for arranging the present event and Pam Jones for running the reception desk and taking a note of the formal meeting. The minutes of the 2021 AGM were agreed by the meeting, as were the various reports by directors and the annual accounts for 2021. It was also formally agreed that Giles Baker be appointed as auditor for the 2022 accounts in due course.
When presenting his own report, the editor, Bill Salter, said he acknowledged some members had continued to have problems with envelopes used for mailing out Swiss Express but it was his intention that envelopes with a wider wrap be used for the June edition. The Chairman said it would be good to appoint an Assistant Editor, partly because of the overall workload but also because there was no cover should Bill become indisposed. Bill’s role now extended to publications as the current programme was approaching an end. Members were invited to come forward with ideas for new subjects (whether for books, magazine supplements or conventional magazine articles) and, indeed, volunteers to research & write these would be most welcome. The Chairman emphasised that back-up was available from Board members who had experience with this work.
There were no changes at the AGM to the composition of the SRS Board or of the editorial team for Swiss Express although changes taking place later this year were announced. Nominations will be sought in the usual way for the 2023 AGM for the posts of Chairman, Membership Manager and Director of Publicity & Exhibitions although the current postholders are willing to continue in office. Glyn Jones will be standing down as the Sales Director (but remain a Director for website matters) and Gary Eldridge will be co-opted by the Board in July to run Sales. In October, I will stand down as Company Secretary and Hywel Rees will be co-opted to take on that role. It follows that Gary and Hywel – both of whom were introduced to to members at the AGM – will stand for election when these two posts are also advertised in the run-up to the 2023 AGM. The Chairman noted that Glyn had been the Sales Officer/ Director since the AGM in 2000; an astonishing achievement for which the Society was very grateful. David Stevenson’s intention not to seek re-election as the Archive Director remains but, assuming no one comes forward in the meantime, David indicated he would be prepared to remain in post until his term ends at the 2024 AGM.
The formal meeting closed at 13.40 but there was then an Open Forum which included the following:
- Ian Athey said that it had been well-nigh impossible to hear what Board members were saying in the meeting, a view endorsed by those sitting further back than Ian who had even more difficulty. In future, he said, a public address system was needed, especially if the present venue was chosen again. Gordon Heddon (Chairman of the Crewe Heritage Centre and an SRS member) said that in that circumstance, a PA system would be available.
- Ian also drew attention to the June 2021 Swiss Express which stated that decisions about awards of honorary Life Membership were made by the Chairman – which was wrong if this was the case. Roger Ellis replied that the article had been drafted inaccurately. Martin Fisher maintained statistics about members’ voluntary input into the running of the Society and gave the Chairman an annual update. The Chairman made a recommendation to the Board if & when he felt there was someone who now merited honorary life membership. The decision was made by the Board who were free to accept or reject the recommendation as they felt fit.
- Ron Dawes referred to the level of Bank charges now incurred by the Society’s London Branch. Bernard Davis, replying for the Board in the absence of the Treasurer, said HSBC were acting in line with other High Street Banks who effectively had a monopoly. It was why the Board strongly advocated members use electronic bank transfer or Paypal rather than cheques. The Society is now using WISE for international payments to reduce costs.
- Nick Taylor said Facebook was a useful way to expand membership and asked to what extent it was generating new members already. Glyn Jones said the September Swiss Express would announce replacement of the Forum with a better Blog in the New Year. Board members said there was no record of how new members had found out about the Society as there were several possible avenues.
- Could Swiss Express be made available in PDF format as well as hard-copy? Bill Salter said this was technically feasible but it could make the printed version proportionately more expensive and entail loss of the Royal Mail discount based on volume. Our printers were already increasing their charge for Swiss Express by 16% for the next issue because of the international situation.
- Phil Drake thanked all the Board for their hard work over the last year, a view which was endorsed by others present. The Forum ended at 14.00
The 2023 AGM
The 2023 AGM and Spring Meet will be held on 29 April 2023 but the venue has yet to be decided. The Board needs to take stock of how things went in Crewe and what other suitable alternatives there are. An announcement will be made as soon as possible on the website and then in the September Swiss Express. It is hoped the usual traders will attend and that there can be 5 or 6 layouts in attendance; any offers of layouts, demonstrations or displays will be gratefully received. For any queries please contact email@example.com.
The AGM Brochure with reports and accounts can be downloaded here
The AGM Meet in Pictures
(All photos by Martin Fisher and Glyn Jones –