This is the Committee's Annual Report that appeared in the March 2015 journal:
It has been a very busy and constructive year for the Society and 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 which continues to be represented at fairs and meetings of the Federation of Family History Societies. I would like to thank the Membership Secretary and Renewals Secretary for their hard work in ensuring that the renewals process works so well. The Society continues to receive income from FindmyPast and from Postal and Internet Sales. The Committee also continues to encourage Members to use Standing orders to help the Society avoid Bank charges. An appeal for funds to secure various documents of the Cudham area was very successful.
It has been another successful year for the society. We have managed to avoid bank charges but I would like to make a plea to all those who still have not completed a standing order form to consider doing so. The gift aid for the remainder of 2012 and 2013 has been claimed and will show in the society’s accounts next year. Again on the subject of gift aid, if you ARE a UK taxpayer and you do not already participate in the scheme, could I please ask you to consider doing so.
The Library Resource Team continues to boost the society’s funds. This is again due to the workshops and the research undertaken by the research time lead by Lorraine King and David Turner. Copies of standing order, gift aid and any other forms are available at branch meeting, the library, on the society web site or direct from me.
During the last 12 months the Society has been able to maintain its aims & objectives without having to increase the membership fees. As Honorary Secretary of the Society for quite a few years I am always taken aback as to how members come forward to volunteer for any tasks asked of them, for which the Trustees are extremely grateful, as without members’ help we would not be able to maintain our high standard for which the Society is known for. I ensure that all Trustees receive the correct paper work for their meetings which are held at our Library some eight times a year where minutes are recorded, very ably, by Angela Bevan. This procedure is also repeated for our AGMs.
I am also our Mailing List Administrator run by Rootsweb. This List is for members only and its function is for members to be in contact with one another and if anyone has met a ‘brick wall’ it is a way for members to ask one another’s help. It is also used to let members know of any events the Society may hold. The List has 341 members and there is always room for more. If anyone is interested in joining please see either one of our Journals, our Web Site or contact me as I will be more than pleased to explain joining procedure.
Attendances have been between 30+ and 13. Several new members who came as a result of talks or drop in sessions held elsewhere have been enrolled for the Society. The cataloguing team have almost completed entering all new books, but the supply of donated books is causing problems due to lack of shelf space. The library team is attempting to rationalise allocation of space to help with this. The team who assist new members has grown and most visitors receive one to one help, thanks to our willing volunteers.
Workshops have proved popular and often fully booked. Many thanks to David Turner who organises speakers, takes bookings and sets up the tables in the library. The WW1 library window displays created by Cliff Scottow, David Turner, Tony Codling and others, proved so popular that they were taken to two churches on the Joyden's Wood Estate.
Lorraine King is the new Society Research co-ordinator and with help from David Turner and others has successfully answered eighteen enquiries from the UK and abroad. However, only two enquiries were from members! This has raised £141 for society funds.
I would like to thank everyone who helps to make the library a success. We are open most Wednesdays from 10am until 4pm and would be very pleased to see any members who have never visited the library previously or prospective members.
Once again four issues of the Journal have been published and these were well filled with interesting and varied articles, alongside Society information. The theme of commemoration of the start of World War I has been enthusiastically supported by members. Thanks are due to the team that produce the Journal: to all contributors who share their expertise and family stories: to David Turner, who ensures Journal images are the best we can obtain; Sheila Beckett, David Bonner, John Henderson and Victor Nutt who form the team of proof readers and, finally, Spindrift Printers, who printed and circulated the Journal using the most economical rates available. A monthly electronic Newsletter, started in November 2011, is freely available by sending your email address to the email information service, managed by Tony Codling. There are 437 subscribers.
Publications, Projects and Events
We have attended several events including WDYTYA at Olympia in February which requires a huge input by volunteers. Unfortunately this year it will be at NEC Birmingham and Glasgow so we will not be able to attend. In November we were at ExCel as part of Simply Christmas, Hobbycrafts & Art Materials Live, the stand being sponsored by the FFHS. An unusual event for us but we saw 350-400 people. Hopefully we will get an increase in membership as a result. As the 1st World War commemorations continue we will again be involved as a Society in a further eight library visits plus a further six known events in 2015, helping people to help themselves to find information on family members. Once more we will be asking volunteers to dig deep with their time.
The Commonwealth War Graves Photographic Project continues, currently for ‘service’ deaths. Sevenoaks area has been completed, as has Dartford apart from a couple of small burial grounds. Bromley area, which has the greatest number of burials and burial grounds, has five outstanding. Beckenham Cemetery is one of the largest cemeteries in the UK of over 30 acres. Excluding these, we have submitted photographs of over 1600 individual graves, often more than one view, plus general views of the burial grounds/churches etc making over 3000+ images.
During the winter months I have started to look at the Civilian War Deaths with a view to confirming those actually buried in the Borough in which the death was recorded. The involvement of so many volunteers across such a wide range of events is a credit to the Society and I cannot thank them enough for all their help and support. Their enthusiasm, breadth of knowledge and experience is overwhelming.
In 2014 we were not able to produce as much of our normal Project & Publications work as we would have hoped. This was partly due to members of the group being heavily engaged in the Commonwealth War Graves Photographic Project together with a shortage of volunteers to input and edit work. Our efforts are concentrated on transcribing and publishing transcripts of original parish records we already hold. We have issued a number of other Publications. Our main project, which will be published in January 2015, is the parish registers of Chelsfield; these images and the data therein have not been readily available previously.
A small group of people carry out a great deal of work in the preparation of publications & the Society, thanks them for all their efforts. However we have a huge amount of work that needs doing and to cope with this workload we need more volunteers. The shortage of volunteers to assist is a real problem. We need to get out more publications and also put more data on the ‘Find my Past’ website. If you can read a paper copy and can type onto a spreadsheet we would love to hear from you. Any Member who would like to help with this important task please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our arrangement with the Online Data provider ‘Find My Past’ has been quite successful but unfortunately earlier in 2014 they had a software update that went wrong and for a time reduced their sales considerably. It is slowly returning to previous levels and has provided the Society with an income in 2014 of approximately £500. We did increase substantially in 2014 the amount of data placed with ‘Find My Past’ and will continue doing so in 2015. Sales of publications at events and by post & online amounted to £4900 - £2350 of bought in publications, both books & discs; together with £2550 of Society publications. This is slightly less than our 2013 sales. It is estimated that these sales together with the data income provide approximately £3250 gross profit to offset any investment into project and publication work by the Society.
Bromley branch averaged 50 members to the Saturday meetings. I would like to thank the committee for their tireless efforts in ensuring all meetings run smoothly and I would also like to thank the many task-holders from our branch, and those from other branches for all their help. The Branch has transcribed the 1914-18 absentee voters register for Bromley, which was available at our August meeting. Members have also been keen to get involved with the TCWGPP project co-ordinated by Barbara Phillips. We have had a diverse mix of speakers on varying subjects this year, ranging from Maps Online to The Start of WW1, which saw the branch put on an exhibition of stories from our members. We have taken over £250 in the sale of books. Over £100 in the sale of refreshments and over £40 received in donations for old magazines.
Dartford Branch has met twelve times with between 95 and 140 members attending, many thanks to Barbara Phillips for arranging the speakers and finding such interesting topics. I would like to thank everyone who gives their time to help. Everyone especially appreciates the friendly service of the hot and cold drinks and biscuits supplied by Bob and Sandra Shepherd.
Dartford Branch successfully hosted the AGM again this year. The December meeting was very enjoyable, and due to the generosity of members the raffle had a choice of two large hampers and two baskets of food, a fruit basket and many other expensive gifts that raised £166 for the Society. The charity chosen in 2014 for donations in lieu of giving Christmas cards was Canine Partners. They train dogs to help people in wheelchairs with their everyday living. A cheque for £105 was sent to them. I hope next year will be equally successful.
Attendance varies between thirty five and fifty members but there seems to be no special reason for the variation. Over 50 members attended our special November meeting marking the 100 year anniversary of WW1. They enjoyed tea, coffee and Anzac biscuits produced by two of our members. Melanie Gibson-Barton gave a talk entitled Walking in Flanders Fields. There were story boards produced by members of all three branches with records and photographs of their military ancestors, plus Trench Art, Medals, and Widow’s Pennies. Murray Flinwell provided a display of caps and badges from WW1, in addition Matt Ball a local researcher and historian who has been researching the names on Sevenoaks War Memorial was present.
I would like to say a thank you to all the committee for their work this past year and to everyone who helps at the branch each month. Everything you do is very much appreciated as without your assistance the branch could not run as well as it does.
2014 has seen the committee focus on the 100th anniversary of the start of WW1 with specially designed banners and posters being displayed at various events organised by Barbara Phillips as well as being placed in certain libraries. Thanks to Tony Codling for all the hard work he has put into the designs. It was felt that the use of posters, both WW1 and Society branches specific, should be expanded throughout our area to include supermarkets, church notice boards etc.
Barbara Attwaters has started writing WW1 articles for the Sevenoaks Chronicle, giving the Society extensive coverage. Work is still going on to persuade local history societies to exchange information via our email information service but progress is very slow. Any assistance in developing these contacts would be appreciated.
There is now a connection established with a community radio station in Co. Clare (Raidio Corca Baiscinn) which may prove to be useful to members. Each week they transmit the Genealogy Radio Show which can be heard via their podcast. If any member has any ideas to widen coverage of the Society do not hesitate to contact me.