RREC Central Southern Section

11-12 April 2015

There was a convivial atmosphere in the air at our AGM and Conference this year, attended by some 98 delegates and observers, 19 of which came from outside the UK.

Our Chairman, Duncan Feetham, opened the proceedings with his report of what has gone on in the last year and which can be summarized as: an amiable and constructive relationship with the Foundation, improvements to The Bulletin, formation of the SZ and Goodwood Registers, the introduction of e-mail technical and advice systems and a transformed financial situation. After long and valuable service, Rolf Kuhnke and Trevor Baldwin resigned as Directors and Alan Fogg was introduced as a new member to the Board (leaving one vacancy).

After these proceedings, the Annual prizes were then awarded, Ted Meachem being presented with the Richardson Hosken Trophy for his exceptional contribution to the Club's activities.

Under the firm and patient guidance of our Section Secretary, the Conference then began with a presentation by Johan Vanden Bergh, our Deputy Chairman, the salient points of which were - and to start with most importantly - that the overhaul of the finances has resulted in a turnaround profit of £29,000 in 2014 and this is projected to increase substantially, to completely avoid reliance on the yearbook income by 2016. Although overall Club Membership is in decline, steps are in hand to halt this trend, one fact being that our future probably lies in the recruitment of more Bentley owners, simply due to the fact that Bentley cars are produced in far greater numbers than those by Rolls-Royce. Bentley owners are already the majority of our members. Discussions on the form of the Club's Corporate Identity continue and after comments from the floor it was decided to leave this to the Directors to come to a formal decision. Seminar attendance is increasing and subjects will be added and expanded to suit demand.

As an extra item to the Agenda, a presentation was then made by Foundation Directors with a proposal to extend the Hunt House buildings substantially as good use is not presently being made of the substantial artefacts and material being held and they need to be properly housed and displayed in appropriate surroundings - including a changing selection of RR & B cars - that will attract not only more visits from our members, but also from other Clubs, Educational Institutions and the general public and to fulfil to a much greater extent the charitable obligations of the Foundation. This project is a joint enterprise between the Club and Foundation and will involve substantial expenditure, but donations to help fund this would be necessary and sought from all available outside sources such as Industry and Government Agencies. After overnight consideration, the general response was very much in favour of the Team who had proposed this to continue with the work they had started so that design and build costs, funding and benefits could be better defined. This is a long term project but considered necessary for the future development and prosperity of the Club and Foundation.

This was additionally emphasised by Jane Pedler who stressed the need for more Club members to contribute to the Foundation which, while a separate entity for sound administrative reasons, works hand in hand with the Club. In the meanwhile, the Hunt House heating system has been replaced, displays improved and security enhanced. A new brochure has been produced. They continue to build links with Companies, Government Institutions, give support for Engineering training and encourage College visits. Visitors are welcome, but advance notice is essential due to security implications and the necessary availability of an accompanying member of staff.

With regard now to the Bulletin, Martin Carnell the Director who has overall responsibility for publications, stated that £18,000 had been saved to date just by incorporating the Advertiser and that anticipated savings overall of some £50,000 should be achieved this year while at the same time improving the quality of the Bulletin presentation and content.

This sums up my impressions of this year's event - for more detail proper minutes of the AGM and Conference will be available in due course. It all ended with an enjoyable Dinner at our Hotel, but prior to sitting down, the management wanted to know where the car was. Unbeknown to anyone else, the hotel people had made space for one and Ted Meachem was quickly volunteed to provide his worthy steed. This naturally invited remarks, ribald and otherwise, summed up in this picture. No sale resulted.

Robin Brailey - Section Committee Member

Ted's car   Note on Ted's car
Photo: Colin Hughes