RREC Central Southern Section

5-6 April 2014

A Breath of Fresh Air

The Meetings this year were conducted in a most convivial and constructive atmosphere and also in an efficient manner. Some 130 members attended the AGM, with over 100 Section and Register attendees from the UK and Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Holland, Ireland, Norway, Romande, South Africa and Sweden at the Conference. The formal AGM matters having been concluded, the election results were announced and all candidates for Directorship having been elected, they were individually introduced to the Meeting. The Chairman then gave his report, the firm message being that the past is now well behind us and not up for discussion and that the new Directors require the general support of the Membership in the tasks ahead of them, the two main ones being to reverse the declining membership and income as the present trend of annual losses just cannot be allowed to continue. In answer to a question from the floor the Chairman said that the Bulletin Editor, Julian Spencer, had been made redundant and that the position of Bulletin Editor had been abolished. It has yet to be decided how the Bulletin will continue to be published, but the consensus was that it needed to be updated in terms of presentation and content anyway and that there was sufficient talent within the Club to keep it going.

Amongst the annual trophy awards was the silver cup for the 'Most Successful Section' presented to Central Southern and gratefully received on behalf of the Section by Ted and myself.

Subsequent to the AGM, Duncan Feetham was re-elected as Chairman and Johan Vanden Bergh as his Deputy. A formal AGM report will be issued in due course and in the usual way, so I will not detail it here.

The Conference started under the firm but gentle authority of Chairman Ted Meachem. Somewhat pre-empting the published Agenda for the Conference, Johan Vanden Bergh then addressed the Meeting with his proposals for the future construction of the RREC Board and image of the Club, based upon his knowledge and experience of current management best practice and he is obviously going to take the helm and intends to make this work for us. The Board will be known in future as Directors and not as members of a Management Committee. With a restricted Agenda in view of the preceding presentation the delegates were given a free rein to air their views on the presentations and the topics, many of which did so.

Matters of Finance could not really be discussed as it had not been possible for a credible Budget to be produced for the current financial year, let alone for succeeding ones - all rather disappointing. A proposal to have Regional Representatives was rejected, Duncan Feetham having already told us that he was going to ensure regular visits by the Directors to the various regions to maintain contact and feedback. Club Services were discussed and it was felt by a few, that for the time being profit should take precedence over service, but the Club shop required some overhaul in the products stocked and avenues explored as to how they could be more widely marketed. The Annual Rally may make a loss again this year and a location for next year has still to be decided. The Annual Rally team had advised the Board that the proposed Folkestone site was not suitable. Club Membership having declined in the recent past, the Trade would be encouraged to recruit members from customers and it was felt that all Section and Club members could do their bit by word of mouth and that Enthusiasts don't necessarily have to be Owners. A detailed report of the proceedings was made and should be available in due course.

In addition to the above, a particularly interesting presentation was given by Clive Green on the work done by the Foundation in preserving, digitising and indexing the Archives. They currently amount to several tons of paperwork and have a permanent team working with up-to-date scanning equipment able to take documents of up to enormous size so that the wealth of information they have been given is stored safely and made available for posterity. It will take many years to complete and much more expense to achieve it all. I firmly believe that the work of the Foundation does not receive the recognition it deserves in not only being custodian of the Archives, but also in maintaining the Hunt House and the facilities it offers to our Members which must be the envy of every car club in the world. All this comes at a cost and the Foundation is in desperate need of funds as contributions from RREC Members has seriously dwindled. The recipe for a long and happy relationship is for both parties to have a very poor memory. If you do not already do so, please consider joining The Sir Henry Royce Memorial Foundation - it only costs £20.00 pa to help preserve the priceless Archives. We are all in this together.

All in all the 2014 AGM and Club Conference were quite the opposite of last year's meetings. Throughout the weekend there was a positive, constructive and friendly atmosphere with a great deal of consensus and optimism. A really worthwhile event.

Robin Brailey - Section Committee Member