Fairlight History Group
3rd Annual General Meeting held, Wednesday 16th February 2022 at 2.30pm at Fairlight Village Hall
Present:- The retiring committee:
Haydon Luke – Chairman,
Paul Draper – Secretary,
Pauline Collins – Treasurer,
Julie Marshall – Membership Secretary,
Karen Draper and Liz Green
Plus 22 other members.
Welcome:- Haydon acted as Chairman and welcomed all to the meeting.
Apologies for absence:- Julie announced apologies for absence on behalf of Mike Tuffrey, Ken Hatch, John and Diana Hill and Tim Rothwell.
Chairman’s report:- Haydon presented the Chairman’s report:
Welcome to the 3rd FHG AGM. I am delighted that this year we can meet in person and I hope very much that the time of virtual meetings is now behind us. Nevertheless, the health crisis remains and the committee will respond in the future to national guidance as required. We were, of course, disappointed that for our first meeting this year we had once again to resort to Zoom.
Last year, 2021, was something of a roller coaster. We had to adapt, sometimes quickly, to changing circumstances. That we successfully did so was down to two sets of people.
- First the committee: Paul, Karen, Pauline, Julie, and Liz who worked hard to sustain the FHG during the period of uncertainty. The committee met regularly to manage the year and prepare for the future.
- Secondly, you the members, who have kept faith with the FHG despite all the lockdown problems. We hope to demonstrate that your faith in us will be rewarded over the next 12 months with another set of interesting and absorbing talks and events for you to enjoy.
One thing that the last year has underlined is the importance of being able to communicate with our members quickly and effectively. To that end we would like to have email addresses for everyone so that information can be sent out effectively and quickly to all members. Please make sure we have a valid email address for you. We recognise, however, that not everyone is comfortable with IT and therefore we will still try to communicate by other means where necessary.
Whilst on the topic of IT I would like to remind members that the FHG has a first-class website – https://fairlighthistory.co.uk/ This is overseen by Karen with the invaluable help of Bill O’Reilly and includes a wealth of interesting and important stuff. On it you will find all you need to support your membership of FHG, a members-only area and a gallery with masses of pictures. There is an ever-increasing library of stories about local topics and a reminiscence section which we hope that members will feel tempted to add to. If you have any contributions you would like to put on the site, please contact Karen.
Online presence apart, what did we manage to achieve last year? In the end we held an almost full calendar of events albeit the AGM and first three talks were of necessity by Zoom. In June we were able to put on a well-attended major exhibition in the Village Hall on Fairlight in WW1 & WW2, an event to coincide with Open Gardens weekend and to act as a fund raiser for the new war memorial. We also had events on oral history, a graveyard tour of St Andrew’s churchyard to hear about some of the celebrities and worthies interred there and a session on family and local history research. The autumn saw us hearing about different theories about the location of the Battle of Hastings, a session on the war graves, memorials and plaques of Fairlight and Pett and an update from the Hastings Area Archaeological Research Group on Classis Britannica as revealed by Roman finds in our area. Unfortunately, in December, the renewed Covid crisis put paid to our final session on investigating the history of your house.
Under all the circumstances I feel it was a creditable offering to members. The current year’s programme has been published and contains a good variety of subjects which we hope will appeal to all sections of the membership.
Last year, too, I expressed the hope that we would 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 and that we should 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. I am glad to say that these relationships are alive and still developing.
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.
Last year good progress was made towards achieving that ambition by virtue of two important initiatives.
Firstly, recognising the value of oral history in helping preserve memories and evidence of the past, the FHG set up a sub-group (Liz, Karen, Julie) to pursue oral history. We sought, and successfully obtained, a grant from the Parish Council specifically to support oral history. We were able to pay for professional training sessions and to acquire good quality recording equipment. We also had a talk from a speaker experienced in such work in another history group. During the last year our trainees have gained good practical experience of the techniques of recording oral history and have now become proficient. We will continue this work in 2022 thereby adding an increasing number of personal memories to the stock of oral evidence. We also hope to publish some of this material later in the year. If anyone would like to join the group please make your interest known to the committee.
You will also recall from my remarks last year that we were trying to come up with an arrangement which would operate locally and provide a way of safely keeping hold not only of the oral history material but also of those other irreplaceable bits of the past – all those photos, letters, deeds, scrapbooks, farm papers etc, – and making them available locally to anyone interested.
That led to the setting up of the Archive and Resource Centre (ARC). This is an initiative which has had the active support of the 3 local parish councils, as well as Rother District Council and the Isabel Blackman Foundation to create 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. This will be of use to 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 latest news is that the ARC is now in being. It was formally opened last Saturday by the Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, Andrew Blackman (of Fairlight Place) and in the presence of our local MP, councillors and members of the public. Its location is a room for the ARC’s exclusive use at the Pett Methodist Chapel.
The room has independent access and is fully kitted out with broadband, suitable furniture and equipment including laptops, scanners and other necessities. The next step will be to commission appropriate recording and indexing software so that the material can be recorded and made accessible to the best modern standards. The ARC already has an online presence and can be accessed at www.thearc.org The number of people attending the opening was testament to the strength of interest in local history across all three villages.
For the FHG and the future our aspiration is that we will continue to meet the needs and interests you have expressed in our local history here in Fairlight and around and that you will be minded to renew your membership. It is a bargain at £10 p.a. If you have ideas or suggestions for future talks or sessions, please let us know. The FHG will strive to fulfil your expectations.
And now it is time to move on through the agenda and so we proceed to the Treasurer’s report.
Treasurer’s report:- Pauline, acting Treasurer, presented copies of the FHG final figures as at 31st December 2021. We have ended the year with a credit balance of £1,282.25. This net figure was achieved with outgoings of £1,261.38, which figure includes £410.38 for additional equipment and £350.00 for Oral History training. This was set against our incomes from grants, events and membership fees, including £180.00 advance membership fees
The figures were again 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 offered themselves for re-election. Additionally member Debbie Jones, who has been very active in our Oral History project. Offered her services to the committee. Haydon then 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 seven 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 2.47pm.
Following the formalities, Debbie Jones and Karen and Paul Draper made a presentation entitled:- “An update on local Family Tree research and an introduction to the 1921 Census”
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