Members will have received copies of the Agenda and the Accounts, and the minutes of the meeting will be posted in the members’ area of the website in due course, so I will just mention the chief changes in membership of the Executive Committee and try to give a flavour of the discussions that took place for those who were not able to attend the meeting.

Recently back from holiday (with a sore throat), Mark had hoped to keep the meeting short so he delivered his Chairman’s Report, hoarsely, at breakneck speed. It has been a successful year with some top class invited speakers, well-subscribed competitions and several interesting evenings presented or hosted by club members.

He thanked four club members for presentations that were designed to challenge the audience. David H gave us an opportunity to ‘Be a Judge’ by scoring a set of images and comparing what we thought against the original judge’s marking. Presentations by 3 members covered selected photographic genres with follow-up meetings after an interval during which we were challenged to put the ideas into practice. These were Telling a Story by Aodan, Street Photography by Martin F, and Intentional Camera Movement by yours truly. Mark thanked them and all the members who produced work to entertain us on the follow-up meetings.

Mark also thanked everyone else on or off the club committees who had helped to ensure the smooth running of the club throughout the year.

As he had made known, Mark is standing down as Chairman next year due to pressure of work. Anne paid tribute to his superhuman effort over the last few years which I think it’s fair to say rescued the club from oblivion. One of Mark’s family described him as ‘a lovely lad, but don’t let him push you around’! Mark has the knack of pushing people around in the nicest possible way – a rare gift. And if on rare occasions he might have got somebody’s back up – you can’t bake a cake without breaking eggs, they say.

And while on the subject, a thank you to Anne for baking a couple of trays of delicious cupcakes for our tea break. Anne too said that she would have to stand down as Treasurer at some point during the year as she and Steve will be moving from the area. We have to thank them both for all the time and effort they have put into bringing our system into the 21st century with spreadsheet accounting records and online banking.

As Anne pointed out in her Treasurer’s Report, good speakers are expensive; you pretty much get what you pay for. With limited funds, we do have to provide some home-generated entertainment. This may not cost anything but it is time-consuming both for the people involved in preparing work for the evening itself and also for the programme secretary who has to dream up new ideas and brow-beat members into carrying them out.

In her report, she went through her statement of accounts in detail. There was a drop in membership, our main source of income, during the year. We now number 32 which she felt was about how many members we need to balance our income and expenditure while providing an interesting and varied programme. However, the cost of hiring the hall is set to rise, and speakers may have to be booked from further afield, incurring higher travel costs, to ensure that we continue to enjoy good quality presentations. However, it was agreed that membership fees would remain the same and that effort would be made to raise income by trying to boost membership.

As she went through the accounts, I found it particularly galling to discover that not only does Mandy normally thrash me in the club competitions but she earned more profit from the tea and biscuits than I did from print mounting!

Anne thanked Claire for acting as Independent Examiner of the accounts. Claire is a lady with hidden skills and talents so I hope she gets more involved in the club’s activities.

Moving on to Election of Officers, Brian C bravely offered to take on the Chairman’s role and was duly elected. From the comments he made and the points he raised under Members’ Motions and Amendments, Brian clearly has ideas on how he sees the club moving forward. We can look forward to another proactive Chairman who has clearly thought carefully about the club’s future and I’m sure we will give him all our support and encouragement.

Graham was elected our new Secretary/Programme Secretary, so well done to him for taken on this job. I was programme secretary for 6 or 7 years during the early Noughties so I know just how challenging and time consuming this job is. Mark said that he had pretty much drawn up next season’s programme so Graham has some time to feel his way into the task but I am sure he would appreciate any suggestions from members of interesting ways of filling the club evenings.

Under Members’ Motions and Amendments, David A wondered if we could change the names of our Level 1 and Level 2 groupings to make it more explicit which were the higher and lower expectation levels. The reason we decided on the neutral designations was because of the way members elect themselves into the class they feel comfortable in, rather than being promoted or relegated on the basis of their score totals at the end of each season.

David H, who as a judge visits many clubs, said that our method was very unusual. He also said that he thought this system results in a much more relaxed and friendly atmosphere at the club and was one of the reasons he joined PhotoCraft.

After some discussion it was decided that the categories would be changed, probably to Standard and Advanced.

Brian raised several issue in this section such as having a whole day club exhibition with a public vote as Carshalton CC do as this would help raise the profile of PhotoCraft and possibly attract more members. He also has ideas for more social get-togethers outside the club evenings where club issues could be discussed, and for ways of marketing the club to attract more members.

Mark said that of all the methods we tried at attracting new members, the website was the most successful. He was aware that the website had not been updated for a while but the problem is that the software it is run on is being discontinued and a time will come soon when the website will have to be reconstructed using alternative software or the present site transferred to a new package. He did not have the time to do this and Chris R kindly offered to take this task on.

On the question of equipment, Brian C said he felt we needed a second print stand so that everyone’s work can be put on display instead of some on tables. The present stand has served us well for a couple of decades but the problem is storage as it has to be jammed diagonally behind the cupboard doors in front of the shelves. If anyone with DIY skills fancies putting a stand together, possibly one that will sit on a table and short enough to store at the bottom of our cupboard, please let us know.

We are all aware and getting a bit fed up with the wavy horizons on our PDIs, so a new projector screen is definitely on the club’s shortlist of equipment needs. Brian G reaffirmed that he had offered to sell his second-hand screen to the club for £150. He said that he would be willing to donate the screen to the club in exchange for free lifetime honorary club membership. The situation remained unresolved. This Blog may be read by members of other clubs. Perhaps another local club in need of a screen might like to consider the generosity of Brian’s proposal.

Like Mark with the AGM, I intended this Blog to be short and it hasn’t worked out that way, but at least I haven’t had to endure a throat infection writing it! I look forward to seeing everyone at the Social and Prize-giving evening next week.

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