Area Chairman’s Report February 2015

I am pleased to say that things have quietened down since my baptism of fire in the first few weeks of becoming your Chairman.  Since the last Area meeting I have been to NADFAS House for a Selection Day – always an interesting day, to an Area Chairman’s Day and an Advisory Council meeting and we have had an Area Committee meeting. I was invited to lectures at Royal Tunbridge Wells, Gravesend and Folkestone all of which have been most interesting and I have met some lovely members and heard some great talks.  Thank you to all those Chairmen who have made me feel so welcome and for your hospitality.  I hope I was able to help in various ways.

So let me bring you up to date with news from NADFAS House.

  • Update on Directory and Lecturers’ Fee

Societies frequently comment that the fees and expenses charged by NADFAS’s accredited lecturers are their primary concern. Some feel that these fees and expenses are too high and that lecturers do not appreciate the financial pressures societies are currently experiencing. Lecturers’ Representative Diana Lloyd attended two meetings with Florian Schweizer and Katherine Sutton, one of these including the National Chairman, at the end of last year to discuss these matters.

As a result of the above meetings they have decided that, for increased transparency and to help Programme Secretaries ‘balance their budget’ when planning their programme, the current fee range charged by each lecturer will be included in the online Directory. We still encourage Societies to discuss the fee with the Lecturer to ensure that they receive a rate that suits their specific circumstances and requirements and to offer optimum value to your Members. We trust that publishing the rates will facilitate the planning process and help Programme Secretaries to manage budgets with improved cost control. A travel cost limit – for petrol, or rail or airfare – should be discussed and agreed with the lecturer at the time of booking and should be written on the booking form (which is a contract). Once agreed, Societies should only pay the amount as confirmed, which also will provide greater control over cost. These changes will come into effect from 1 June.

Two other matters were which were also discussed with the Lecturers’ Representative and have subsequently been passed on to all lecturers were:

1. That some Lecturers having lectured to a NADFAS Society then lecture to other organisations in the same area, such as University of the Third Age or the National Trust, for a lesser fee which causes much annoyance.

2. That it would be helpful if lecturers could supply images to Societies for publicity purposes, for example for use on websites or in newsletter. However, lecturers have been reminded not to send images for which they have not obtained the relevant copyright permissions.

  • Gift Aid

The Gift Aid scheme remains absolutely essential to the NADFAS grants programme. It also repays a significant amount to Societies in the form of administration fees. Since its inception it has benefited the Patricia Fay Memorial Fund (PFMF) by over £600,000 and repaid Societies well over £330,000.

It really is a worthwhile scheme and any Society unsure about participating should contact the Finance Department for advice. If all Societies joined the NADFAS Gift Aid Scheme, based on average Society statistics, an estimated further £24,000 per year could be claimed back from Revenue and Customs, benefitting Grant recipients and Societies to the tune of £16,000 and £8,000 per annum respectively.

  • ADM

Annual Directory Meeting will be held on 16 March at Central Hall Westminster. Over 200 lecturers will be present, approx. 105 lecturers will be presenting. The event will be filmed again and the short video clips of lecturers will be included in the online Directory soon.

  • AGM

This year’s NADFAS Day/AGM will focus on the theme of Impact, reflecting on the findings of the report and what it means for our Members, Societies and our relationship with the wider community. We will also present further information about the new NADFAS database which will go live in the second half of 2015, showing how the new technology will improve accessibility, ease of information flow and improved facilities in the online Directory and website.

‘Surgery’ sessions will be held by Rik Gadsby, our IT and Operations Director, and the Society Support Team, providing an informal opportunity to meet some of the people who are on the SST.

We will be making changes to the layout of the presentations and seating arrangements, making it easier for delegates to speak to Trustees and engage in the discussions. We are pleased to confirm that our President Loyd Grossman will attend the AGM; he will present this year’s Marsh Awards and also address delegates during the business meeting.

Delegates are encouraged to send in any questions for the Q&A in advance, but of course we will be happy to answer questions raised on the day.

Also discussed at NADFAS House was the subject of your constitutions.  It is important that if anything is changed in your constitution at your AGM that a copy must be sent to NADFAS House.

We want to encourage you to bring any new committee members to the Area Meetings.  It does help them to understand what we are all about.  I well remember the first one I came to and being so surprised at all that was going on – it really was an eye opener.  So please do bring them with you.

I have recently spent quite a bit of time looking at our website and all of your websites.  Most of them are up to date and look good but there are quite a few that are very out of date and may need to be looked at.

I have arranged with High Weald for our Summer Chairman’s Meeting to be held at Hole Park near Tenterden on Tuesday 9th June.  The garden there is superb and we will get a guided tour after lunch.

I have also helped to organise the Past Chairman’s Lunch at Bartellas in Meopham with 4 Past Chairman from Gravesend on Friday July 10th with a private tour of Owletts after lunch.

Enough of me but before I sit down I just want to thank all my committee who work hard to help you all and to keep the Area ticking over.  I am sad to say that we will be losing Di Wiggins who has looked after Heritage Volunteers for the last 4 years.  She was due to resign last year but very kindly stayed on to help me through my 1st year.  Thank you Di for all your hard work.

Finally, don’t forget I am here to help you in any way I can and do please don’t hesitate to ask and if it would help do invite me to your lectures.  I can always try and encourage your members to help on your committees!

Elaine Graham

Kent Area Chairman