2nd Annual General Meeting 2021

2nd Annual General Meeting held, Wednesday 24th February 2021 at 2.30pm by Zoom*

Present:-          The retiring committee:

Haydon Luke – Chairman,

Paul Draper – Secretary,

Pauline Collins – Treasurer,

Julie Marshall – Membership Secretary,

Karen Draper and Liz Green

Plus 12 other members.

Welcome:- Haydon acted as Chairman and welcomed all to the meeting.

Apologies for absence:- Paul acting as Secretary announced apologies for absence on behalf of Mike Tuffrey, Bill and Cally O’Reilly and Faye Hughes

Chairman’s report:- Haydon presented the Chairman’s report:

Welcome to the second FHG AGM. I hope you will all find this meeting an acceptable way of coming together.

Little did I think last year, after such a successful first year, that 12 months would go by without the FHG holding meetings. Nor did I ever imagine that we would be forced to have the next AGM remotely. But 12 months is a long time and the pandemic has put us all on a steep learning curve. Humans are nothing if not adaptable, so we are rapidly learning the skills of Zoom, Skype, Teams and all the rest of the electronic meeting methods now open to us.

Need to begin with two expressions of thanks:

  • First to the committee: Paul, Karen, Pauline, Julie, and Liz who have worked so thoughtfully and so hard to sustain the FHG during the period of lockdown. Though there have been no FHG meetings the committee has not been idle. We have met and have been making plans to get the ball rolling again as soon as circumstances allowed. My sincere thanks to you all. And
  • Secondly, to you the members who have kept faith with the FHG despite lockdown. We hope to demonstrate that your faith in us will be rewarded over the next 12 months with some interesting and absorbing talks and events for you to enjoy.

I very much hope the FHG can continue to meet the needs and interests you have expressed in our local history here in Fairlight and around. We’ll certainly try.

Meanwhile, Karen and other committee members have been busy getting a FHG website up and running. If you haven’t seen it make a point of logging on to https://fairlighthistory.co.uk/ to see what is there. It isn’t fully finished and indeed we are looking for other material to go on to it. So if you have something of interest to post, please send it to Karen who will ensure it gets included.

When the idea of a local history group was floated we were all keen that it should be a bit different and that it should, so far as possible, be an active group – not just another ‘meet every month, listen to a talk and have a cup of tea’ group – enjoyable as that might be.

We certainly envisaged some talks but we also wanted to provide a focus for people to contribute their own take on local history, their own bits of research or investigation. Above all we hoped to develop a strong sense that local history matters – both in itself and in creating and feeding our sense of place and our connections with those who have been here before us in the past.

The programme we had devised for 2020 embodied all those aims but sadly we were not able to proceed beyond February.

Some of the events we had planned for last year we have brought into this year’s programme. So, for instance, after the formal part of today’s AGM, Paul Draper will bring us up to date with a presentation on the iguanodon footprints on the beach. This will be a surrogate for a trip which we had planned as a summer outing in last year’s programme. It has the added benefit of being less physically demanding than scrambling down onto the real beach.

We have other events already lined up. I am pleased to say that the popular speaker, Ian Everest, who was scheduled to talk to us last year on Sussex Farming in the 1950s will deliver his talk to us via Zoom on April 21st. In the lockdown I have been working on a new presentation – on Fairlight and the Smugglers and I will premiere that via Zoom on 24th March. So those events will take us through into the spring.

The committee will then decide, in the light of the prevailing situation, how future meetings will be held and what the programme will be. What I can say is that if we are able to return to the Village Hall, and the recent government announcement is cautiously optimistic about the summer, the new chairs, to which FHG made a contribution, will be a lot more comfortable than the old ones!

We certainly hope to be able to hold a regular programme later in the year and to pick up on other events from the 2020 calendar such as the session on family history and the one on the war graves, memorials, plaques and crosses of Fairlight and Pett.

I hope, too, that we will again be able to reach out to other local groups with an interest in local history, not only in the neighbouring parishes such as Pett and Guestling, but further afield, such as Hastings, Rye and Battle because, of course we are all part of that same shared narrative. In that connection, too, it is important we retain a link with the Hastings Area Archaeological Research Group (HAARG) because their fieldwork and finds provide much of the primary evidence of what actually did happen locally in the past.

Another factor in wanting to set up a local history group was a sense that bits of the past are slipping away from us and we need to make a determined effort to catch onto those before they are gone forever. Here I am thinking not only of family memories, personally remembered accounts of things from the past but also tangible remains – photos, letters, deeds, scrapbooks, farm papers – all sorts of ephemera which provide so much detail about the past.

In the 12 months since we last met those considerations have become even more important because the pandemic has adversely impacted on services such as the reference library, Hastings Museum and the county records centre at the Keep in Falmer. All have been off limits for most of the past 12 months.

You will recall therefore that we were trying to come up with an arrangement which would operate locally and provide a way of safely keeping hold of those irreplaceable bits of the past and making them available locally here to anyone interested.

So, as a separate initiative, a group mainly from Pett and Fairlight set out, with the active support of the 3 local parish councils, to create an Archive and Resource Centre (ARC). The aim of the ARC is to provide a secure location for local historical material, to index it properly, to encourage research and to provide a measure of local access to this material for people who, for example, want to investigate family history, investigate the history of their house or to find out more about the very local bits of evidence of the past which exist.

The exciting news is that the ARC is now in being. Phase one of the project was to identify suitable premises, apply for grants, seek donations and to create a suitable base in Pett Village Hall to act as the ARC’s base. That has been achieved. The initial remit was to get the space and kit it out to hold the heritage material donated or promised so far. Building work took place over the Christmas period and the room is now finished. Some furniture and equipment, including three good quality laptops, has been donated, which, with money left, allows the ARC committee to buy a scanner, shelving and sundry supplies. Phase 2 of the project (which will include online access) is imminent and, once social distancing restrictions are lifted, it will be possible to make a start actually using the space.

Something else that several members expressed an interest in is oral history and that is something Liz and Julie have been investigating for us. Oral history is spoken history, recorded for posterity.

Our memories are fragile – they die with us – so it’s important to preserve these precious historical records while we can. In an oral history project we listen to people talk about their lives, work, neighbourhood or on a specific theme and record them so that their testimony is preserved. Oral history gives a new perspective on the past – different to established sources, different to dry historical tracts. It is in an important sense the real history of the people of Britain, how they see their lives, and the times they have lived through. This is something that many local history groups get involved in and which adds an important extra dimension to preserving the past. We propose to arrange some training for anyone interested in being part of an oral history group within FHG so if you would like to participate, please contact Liz or Julie.

Finally, if you have any requests or suggestions for things the history group can do, talks you’d like to hear or visits you’d like us to consider, please tell us.

FHG is your group and together we will enjoy our local history and keep Fairlight’s history on the map in the years to come.

And now it is time to move to the Treasurer’s report.

Treasurer’s report:- Pauline, acting Treasurer, presented on-screen copies of the FHG final figures as at 31st December 2020. We have ended the year with a credit balance of £1,736.63. This net figure was achieved with minimal outgoings of £105.00, due to the very limited activity in 2020. This was set against our incomes from membership fees. The committee has agreed to carry over the paid up membership fees to 2021 as we were unable to provide any content after February 2020.

The figures were audited by Diana Hill.

Election of Committee members:- Haydon advised the members present that, in accordance with the FHG Constitution, all Committee members must resign and offer themselves for re-election, if they wish to continue. All six others offered themselves for re-election.

Haydon asked if any other member present wished to stand for any position on the Committee, but no more hands were raised.

The members were asked to vote for or against the six names to form the committee for the next twelve months. The voting was unanimously in favour, so Haydon declared the new Committee as duly elected.

The members were reminded that the Constitution calls for a minimum of six Committee members, therefore our Committee may be considered complete. If required, additional members may be co-opted during the year.

Nomination of Auditor:- Diana Hill agreed to act again as our Auditor. This was agreed by the members.

Any Other Business:- Members were asked for questions under Any Other Business.


Close of meeting:- There being no further business, Haydon declared the formalities of the AGM closed at 2.55pm.

Following the formalities, Paul Draper made a Zoom presentation entitled:

The Iguanodon Footprints of Fairlight and Hastings.

There followed a short questions and answers section after which the full meeting closed at 3.35pm

Prepared by Paul Draper, Secretary


Signed as a true record of the meeting, Haydon Luke, Chairman