This is the Committee's Annual Report that appeared in the March 2011 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 also continues to be represented at various fairs and at the meetings of the Federation of Family History Societies.
Due to the economic down turn and the requirement by the Charity Commission to examine expenditure the Committee is reviewing and considering the future income and expenditure for all aspects of the Society, including risk management for expenditure on existing and future projects. Consideration has to be given to the rate expenditure on projects affects other areas of the Society and if such expenditure can be recovered in a reasonable time and re invested. The effects of Postal and VAT increases as well as income from Membership also have to be considered in all aspects of future expenditure. By the careful use of income and resources the Society can continue to remain secure in the future.
It is hoped that a Task-holders meeting will have been held in March of 2011 to look at the aims and objectives of the Society for the next 5 years, taking account of the effects of the rapidly increasing digitisation and availability of records by commercial companies on the Society.
A new research service was started in January 2011. The aim is to offer members research based on our holdings at the Society Library.
The annual income of the Society for 2010 shows a downturn on previous years but overall the underlying finances of the Society remain sound. Throughout the year we have continued to fund our full programme of branch meetings as well as making further investments in our library facilities and educational activities.
As a Society we are still committed to investing in the conservation of records and archived documents and further monies have been allocated in this year’s accounts for project work now in hand.
The Society is grateful for the effort in processing our major income streams by the Membership and Renewals Secretaries and the Publications and Projects Subcommittee members together with the other volunteer task holders who help to keep administrative costs at a low level.
The year has proceeded well, with a full complement of Trustees on the Executive Committee thanks to Mike Weeks who stepped forward to offer his services as Publicity Officer during the year.
The Society Executive Committee meets on a regular basis throughout the year at our Library in Joydens Wood. It can sometimes get quite lively but with Janet Rose ordering our sandwich lunch interspaced with cups of coffee/tea it is all done on a friendly basis. Mentioning Janet, I am sure you will all agree with me, as to what a wonderful job both she and David Turner, plus helpers, have done with the Library – how did we ever manage without it?
My new role as Research Co-ordinator will be commencing in the New Year and I look forward to hearing from those of you who feel they need help with their researches and hopefully we will be able to assist you to further your aims to find that illusive ancestor who may be in our extensive Library resources. Sadly, due to family commitments, I will be relinquishing my role as Honorary Secretary at the 2011 AGM. If there is anyone reading this who would like to offer to be our Secretary please contact us, as although the job is not too intensive, it is a very important one to the Society.
Projects and Publications
Work has continued on our Project for the filming, digital scanning, writing to disc and publishing the original registers for the parishes that lie in our area. Despite our best efforts it was not possible to access very many of the records held by the various Archives in our area. However, we carry on trying and are hopeful that work on some of the holdings can commence in 2011. We published a number of Parish Chest type documents held by the Medway archives and a number of burial indexes for the Bromley area parishes.
During 2010, transcription of various records continued and some were published. This is a work in progress and we hope to publish more in 2011. However the future of Project & Publications work generally is uncertain since the Society Committee has decided to reduce substantially the funding that had been made available.
Notwithstanding the introduction of some LMA London records online by the pay-to-view site Ancestry, our sales of Deptford, Greenwich, Woolwich, Lewisham & Plumstead parish register discs held up reasonably well. Other parish records also sold well. The accuracy of the transcriptions made by our Volunteers is of a much higher standard than much of that available online.
Sales of publications at Events and by Post & Online amounted to £6700 - £2250 of bought in publications, both books & discs, together with £4450 of Society publications. It is estimated that these sales provide approximately £3000 of profit and largely offset the investment made into project & publication work by the Society.
Numbers attending each week have averaged 22 and at least 10 new members have been enrolled this year. Help is given to those unsure about computers and Family History research on the Internet and with other sources. Both Lorraine and David regularly assist new members get started. Book donations have continued, not only leading to an increase use for research but in the need for more book cases.
The collection of CDs and DVDs has also been increased and are constantly in use. We are able to use the Libraries 3 Computers and members can use them to access Ancestry.com and other Internet sites. It is hoped that Wi-fi will be soon be available at the library. The furthest travelled visitor to the Library has been from Australia.
Projects are carried out at the Library and the 2nd and 4th Friday of each month. The 10 Bexley Hospital Books (from 1905) are being indexed and a searchable data base index should be available for members sometime in 2011. Many thanks to Maureen Wilkins who overseas and co-ordinates the work, which also includes indexing parish registers. The Minute Book of The Milton and Graves End Gas Light Company, 1845, has been acquired by the Society and is also in the process of digitally copied to allow members to be able to search for information and preserve the original book.
David Cufley and David Turner supported by several volunteers are in the process of completing the new Library catalogue and it should be available in 2011.
The idea of moving from Bromley Civic Centre has occupied a great amount of time. Looking for an alternative venue in Bromley and seeking the views of our current members has kept the Committee busy.
This is not the first move by Bromley Branch. In 1978, when the Society first began, it was located in Bromley Library, which was rapidly outgrown when the numbers exceeded 200. The next move was to Bromley Civic Centre on a Friday evening. When the Council doubled the fee in 2001 the meeting changed to a Wednesday night. Over the years, our numbers have diminished, though there still remains a faithful core of regular attendees. I hope you will wish us luck in our latest move. There is a wide variety of speakers this year, thanks to Lynn Woodward, taking us to Barbados, along Ley lines, through lace and Medieval manuscripts.
We were very sad that Jerry Cope, our Secretary and his wife Brenda (Publicity) had to stand down from the Committee due to ill health.
Attendance at the Dartford Branch meetings, on the first Saturday of the month, has averaged over 100 members at each meeting. The highest number was 127. There have been a variety of speakers and subjects thanks to Barbara Phillips who arranges the programme. Minibus trips were arranged by Jean Carter to the Archives at Kew and to the Crossness Pumping Station open day.
The Branch is fortunate in having many helpers who run the Stalls, tables, signing in, and many other activities for Members. This has also helped to increase membership. Unfortunately, bad weather meant the December meeting had to be postponed but 40 members enjoyed the Christmas Buffet held after the delayed Christmas meeting.
I would like to thank everyone who helps to make the Dartford Branch meetings successful and enjoyable for all. I hope 2011 will be equally successful and informative.
The year has proved to be a successful one for the branch, numbers have steadily increased and it also has a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere. New members are made to feel especially welcome as we now have someone to greet them on a regular basis. Some new members have brought new ideas and suggestions to both myself and the committee which are being looked at.
In conjunction with Sevenoaks Library Services we have run two beginners drop in sessions at Sevenoaks and Edenbridge libraries. Another is planned for later in the year. The drop in sessions are arranged by the society Events Coordinator, and manned by branch committee volunteers and members of the events team. We attended the Sevenoaks Local and Family History day in October with the society bookstall, giving help and information on family history in general and encouraged new people to join us. This resulted in new Members joining.
Snow led to the cancellation of our December meeting and Christmas ‘Do’. 2011 is 25th anniversary of the inaugural meeting that took place on the 26th September 1986. We are lucky enough to still be using the same venue. The AGM will also be held here on the 21st May and we are hoping for a fine day so that the hall can be opened up and members can sit outside on the patio or grass area and relax.
Special thanks to Christina Barnett, our programme secretary, for her work in arranging our varied and interesting speakers. I would also like to thank all the committee members for their support since my appointment and to other members who give their time every month to ensure that the hall is ready in time for our meetings and that everything runs smoothly on the night.