This is the Committee's Annual Report that appeared in the March 2009 journal:
The Committee would like to thank all who have put so much effort into the running of the Society. The Committee has met regularly to ensure the effective running of the Society. The Society is continuing with its planned programme of sponsoring, preservation and joint agreements for the publication of Parish and other records. The Society also continues to be represented at various fairs and at the meetings of the Federation of Family History Societies as well as at meetings with other FHSís in Kent. The untimely death of our editor, Valerie Pike was a shock to all. We now have a new editor and editorial team in place. A new Treasurer is also in place, Isabel Leslie.
This is my first report as your Treasurer since being appointed in November 2008. Whilst the post remained vacant Mr Alyn Mason coordinated all of the Societies many transactions and presented the accounts to trial balance. The final accounts are now complete and included in this journal. Mr David Williams, Sevenoaks Chair has made a considerable contribution to the organising of the finances of the Society this year. In the absence of an appointed treasurer the efforts of your committee regarding the Gift Aid process has been in the form of an in-house audit hence this item does not appear on the accounts. The monies due for this year will be claimed in due course and appear in next yearís accounts. Members who pay tax and have not completed a Gift Aid mandate are encouraged to do so. During 2008 your committee undertook to open accounts with the CAF (Charities Aid Foundation) Bank that caters exclusively for charities and so offers account access and personal services designed for such groups
2008 has been a bit of a roller coaster ride where the Executive Committee is concerned, but now the year is coming to an end, we are definitely on the up. The year began with our Chair being very ill, and with no Treasurer in place, he was sorely missed. Thankfully David Williams, Sevenoaks Chair, stepped in to complete our 2007 Final Accounts, with the aid of myself and our Bookkeeper, Alyn Mason plus Jean Stirk, our President, acting as a back-up service to us. Having put a plea for help in our Journal, Mel Collins offered his services as our Publicity Officer, for which we were more than grateful as this post had been vacant for many years. Then in August we were all dealt a bitter blow, when our Editor, Valerie Pike died suddenly whilst on holiday. We cannot express our gratitude enough to Pauline Heathcote for stepping forward without hesitation to become our Editor, along with her Ďteamí, as she calls them, David Turner and Mel Collins. What a marvellous job they did with our September Journal, and no doubt, like me, you are all looking forward to their March edition. The year finally ended with the best news of all, Isabel Leslie offered her services as our Treasurer. Now, when reading the inside cover of our March Journal you will see that your Executive Committee is fully staffed, and we can all look forward to a better 2009.
Work continues on digital scanning and writing to disc the original Registers for the parishes that lie in our area. During 2008 over 100 reels of film purchased from the London Metropolitan Archives containing the registers of Deptford, Greenwich, Woolwich, Lewisham & Plumstead parishes, were scanned and published and have proved to be in great demand with several hundred copies sold. The burial registers for the Municipal Cemeteries of Gravesend and Northfleet were also published. It is hoped that in 2009 we shall be able to commence processing for publication some of the records held by the Centre for Kentish Studies at Maidstone and the holdings of the Bromley Archives.
Transcription work on various records continues. We have a large amount of record data available to be transcribed and indexed. It is difficult to get volunteers to help with this work; consequently the progress is rather slow. Those volunteers who are transcribing records are doing a very good job and moving forward. Work continues on a small number of other projects.
We have helped over 500 members during 2008 and hope to double this in 2009. With the internet connection in January more help could be given to members as various web sites could be accessed as well as the huge variety of CDís, microfiche and books. Queries from members by email have been researched by David Turner and answered. Mel Collins, Tony Rowley and David Turner have been available on most Wednesdays to help visitors to Hextable. These numbered up to 16 each session, the three library laptops plus helpers' own laptops have been in constant use each week. One visitor came from Santiago! Several new members have been recruited at the Library. We are looking forward to the 1911 census coming on-line in 2009 and more information becoming available on already existing websites, enabling us to help members further with their research. We are open every Wednesday from 10am to 4pm. During 2008 work on a variety of projects has been carried out on the 2nd and 4th Fridays of the month, from 10am to 2 pm. Up to 8 people attend and the work is co-ordinated and checked by Maureen Wilkins. Projects which are on-going include Stone St Maryís baptism, marriage and burial registers dating back to 1716 and other churches: Stone, the Brent and St Albans Road Primary Schools registers and minute books from Bexley Hospital. New members are always welcome to join us - no experience is necessary, as teaching is available and people to check the inputted data also needed. The end result of all the work will be CDís on sale to members and the public, releasing hundreds of thousands of pieces of information to assist in their family history research. Thank you to every one who has helped in anyway to make the Library/Resource Centre a success. Please look on the NW Kent website to view the items we have available.
Sales of CDs produced by the Society have been excellent throughout the year. Our publications are sold via postal sales, handled by Barbara Attwaters, and via the Genfair and Parish Chest websites, which Bob Woodward manages, and at a number of fairs and events that we attend as a Society. In 2009 we shall be attending both the Who Do You Think You Are? Show in late February and the Family History Event on 3 May.
During the year, Bob Woodward successfully completed negotiations with the London Metropolitan Archives, resulting in the production of parish register image CDs for Greenwich St. Alfege, Woolwich St. Mary Magdalene and a number of other churches on the London/Kent borders. The Publications Committee also converted our existing microfiche MIs, parish registers and other miscellaneous records into digital format on a set of CDs. As usual, I would like to give sincere thanks to everyone involved in projects, publications and sales at meetings and fairs. All these people give their time voluntarily to both bring in funds to the Society and to assist anyone researching their ancestors in the area we cover.
Society Web Site
After a major re-launch of the website in 2006, Iíve continued to make a number of small changes, such as uploading new church photos from time to time and replacing existing photos with improved digital versions. Thereís now also a page describing significant new additions to our publications list. The addition of searchable data to the website has already proved useful, especially the listings of MIís in Brockley & Ladywell Cemetery. Iíve received positive feedback from users of these listings, and have also been given some corrections. Weíve now decided to upload more of our census data to the website for free searches, this will initially cover a large chunk of 1891. Given the volume of data involved, it may require a different approach from the 1861 data thatís already on the site.
As a new family historian and member of the Society the last year has been one of learning about the Society's overall publicity needs. With a number of years professional marketing experience for an international manufacturing organisation it has been necessary for me to refocus on the needs of an essentially local charitable organisation. I believe that 2009 will be a year with many challenges for the Society but with greater exposure in local and national press I would like to see an expanding membership and a greater involvement of younger members.
Our meetings have been well attended by our standards and we have enjoyed a full and interesting programme of talks thanks to Lynn Woodward. Subjects have ranged from the Met Police, Cockney language, the Pilgrims Way, National Maritime Museum to the railways of SE England. Speakers have included Robert Barltrop, Maggie Bird, Douglas Chapman, David Taylor and Ron Cox. Our committee is still rather small under the leadership of Angela Verrells but our bookstall has prospered under the safe hands of June Vaisey and Constance Kemp. Despite constant searching, we have still failed to locate a cheaper and more convenient meeting venue so this will very much remain a project for 2009. Finally, it would be rather nice if more of our Bromley area members were to make a New Year resolution and come along to our meetings, or even better put themselves forward to provide talks, help or even better join our aging committee.
Dartford Branch has gone from strength to strength during 2008. In the first quarter of the year the average attendance at the Saturday morning meetings was 87, but this increased during the year, culminating with over 120 members attending the December meeting. All the task holders at the Dartford meetings contributed towards the congenial atmosphere and are to be thanked for their continued commitment. It was with sadness that we heard of the death of Charles Hammond who has done so much to support the Dartford Branch. Sandra and Bob Shepherd increase the ambience by providing hot and cold drinks and biscuits. The 12 speakers have covered a wide range of interesting subjects and offered advice, information and food for thought each month. Thanks to Barbara Phillips who has managed to find such a good selection for so many years. 55 members attended the Christmas buffet. Thanks to Sylvia Hammond for organising the soft drinks table and everyone who helped to make the meal a social occasion. As the school where we meet is moving a hundred yards down the road to new building in 2009, we will be moving too. The date hasnít been finalised yet, but notice will be given of the move. To conclude I would like to thank Paul Wilkins for producing our informative Dartford Dartboard every month and Shelia Elisak our Branch Secretary whose enthusiasm and efficiency contribute towards the success of Dartford Branch meetings. Thank you to everyone who is involved in any way with the branch.
The Sevenoaks branch has continued to hold its regular monthly meetings and to welcome a small but steady stream of new members. There is still a hard core of regular attendees and I am grateful for them turning out in all weathers. The talks ranged from one of Michael Gandyís entertaining offerings, this time nominally on 17th and 18th century records but which ranged far wider than the title, through a delightful talk from Cecil Humphery-Smith, one of the fathers of family history, on the work of the IHGS in Canterbury to your chairman having to fill in when a speaker was unable to attend on "Port Sunlight and the Soapmakers". Chris Barnett, as usual, produced a varied list of speakers through the whole spectrum of serious to flippant that made every talk entertaining in its own way. Many thanks to her. My thanks also go to the rest of the committee and our almost ever-present three non-committee members, Jean Stirk, our President, Linda Meaden and Geoff Webb for keeping the meetings going. The branch still desperately needs new committee members, not least a new Chairman, as I will be standing down in March.