General Meetings

Minutes of the 39th Annual General Meeting held at the Fleet Air Arm Museum on Thursday 28 September 2018

The meeting started at 18.00 with 28 members in attendance. Present:

Gordon Johnson, Chairman

Malcolm Smith, Secretary

Attendees as listed at Annex A.

1.             Apologies

Apologies had been received from Tim Smith, Robert Heath. Martin Turner, Philip Jackson and Peter Dallosso.

2.             Approve the Minutes of the 38th Annual General Meeting held on 28 September 2017

The minutes were approved by the meeting and later signed by the Chairman.

3.             Matters Arising from the Minutes

There was one item arising from the minutes, which was for the Secretary to update the Constitution to add Family Membership to the list of membership categories. The Secretary confirmed that this action was complete.

4.             General Manager’s Report

The General Manager, Marc Farrance, reported as follows

Bridge Tender

The Museum has successfully tendered for a contractor to assist with bridge repairs (over Ocean Way) at the Museum. The Museum will be assisted by Peninsula Access, who provide specialist support and have vast experience delivering repairs of this type on similar structures around the region. The works will commence in the week commencing 5 November and the Museum bridge will be shut for three weeks during the works. All access and ticketing will therefore be via the ground floor.

Hall 2 Roof

Repairs were also in hand for the roof of Hall 2, which was leaking.

Member Chris Penney asked the General Manager: How does NMRN allocate marketing resource for events, between the Museums for which it was responsible? The General Manager replied that he was confident that the FAAM was allocated adequate resource to support the marketing of its events programme.

Chris Penney then asked: Does SOFFAAM get sufficient credit for the funding it provides to the FAAM? Marc replied that he thought the Museum did appreciate and recognise SOFFAAM support, but he would be happy to hear if the Society thought that more was needed.

5.             Chairman’s Report

The Society’s Chairman, Graham Mottram, reported as follows:

I am pleased to report that the society is in good health, and in the hands of a very capable and committed Council, which is a pleasure to chair. We have money in the bank, and are still using that to assist the Museum in worthwhile projects, and still have a buffer to allow us to improve our core activities when and where we need to.

Jabberwock continues to be a high quality product thanks to Malcolm Smith, and the lecture programme attracts healthy audiences thanks to the work of Rosanne Crowther. However, all in the garden is not entirely rosy because this is a society which depends entirely on voluntary effort and volunteers are allowed to stop volunteering when it suits them. Rosanne has run the lecture and visits programme very capably and successfully for many years, and at the same time as I give her my thanks and those of all the members who have enjoyed the fruits of her labours, I am also reluctantly wishing her au revoir in the near future. We desperately need a replacement and I shall be repeating this appeal before tonight’s lecture to the larger assembly. If you would be interested in taking on this role and making a major contribution to the future of SOFFAAM, please speak to myself or any of the other members of the Council this evening.

We also have another challenge in that membership is declining a little faster than we would like. That is because new joiners are not coming along as quickly as they once were. Membership Secretary Robert Heath has been flagging this up for a while and we are seriously looking at how we can cost effectively improve our promotional and recruitment efforts, both in print and, probably most importantly these days, in the digital world. When you come to review your membership you should notice that you can now pay by BACS and hopefully by PayPal. We want to make it easier for you, and potential new members, to give us your money.

The best AGM reports are those which are short. In closing, I wish to thank every single member of the council, because they all take their roles seriously and are committed to the ongoing success of the society, whether they have a specific role or just help out in one of several different but equally important ways. Without them, we would not have the healthy SOFFAAM which we all continue to enjoy.

6.             Treasurer’s Report

The Treasurer, Martin Turner, reported as follows:

As you will see from the annual accounts your Society remains in a healthy financial position and shows a significant increase in assets for the year compared with the previous 12 months. This was partly attributable to a lower request for funding from the Museum than expected. We donated a total of £1,021.65 specifically for engineering materials in respect of the Barracuda project and expect further requests as this project progresses. Two other significant requests are forecast to be subject to funding requests in 2018/9 and next year’s report should give details of those.

We continue to accumulate funds and income from subscriptions and associated Gift Aid tax reclaims and although less than those of 2016/7, those figures were inflated by two substantial (but one-off) gifts. Currently, a further claim has been submitted for the 2017/18 tax year, which should yield a repayment from HMRC of £1,966.50 within the next few weeks. This amount will be shown in the 2018/19 accounts.

I believe that everyday running costs are well controlled and allow for the occasional capital expenditure, such as a replacement franking machine and advertising banners. Updating of computer equipment to maintain the smooth running of your Society’s records is also forecast in the coming year. Our talks programme shows a surplus on the season of £1,947.10, with average attendance of just over 78 per month over the period. These numbers are slightly lower than last year, but we believe are still at a reasonable level. The outing to SS Great Britain Trust in Bristol yielded a small surplus of £157.10, which is in line with the Society’s policy of not seeking to make a significant profit out of members from such events, but equally avoid staging them at a loss.

I believe that membership remains at acceptable and sustainable levels for now, but the need to recruit new members to replace losses remains a priority, given the financial implications.

Richard Hufton asked: Is the Society satisfied with the small amount awarded by the Society from its charitable funds? The General Manager replied that some significant projects are coming up, for which he will be looking for funding.

Jim Humberstone asked: Does the Charity Commission set a level at which charities may hold reserves? The Chairman replied that there is no set limit, but the Society aimed to keep a prudent amount in hand. He wondered if the AGM wished to set an absolute limit to the amount of reserves. He would ensure that this topic would be addressed at the next AGM.

7.             Election of Independent Examiner

Malcolm Smith proposed that Malvern Carvell should continue to act as the Independent Examiner and the proposal was seconded by Geoff Freeman. The proposal was carried without dissent.

8.             Membership Secretary’s Report

Robert Heath reported as follows:

The current paying membership total is 1037, which is a decrease of 23 in total over the past 12 months. I suspect this reflects the downturn being experienced in the High Street retail sector. We are looking to see where we can improve awareness of SOFFAAM and I am very pleased that member Chris Penney has offered to give time and thought to this role. I have also proposed that methods of payment (currently cheque and standing order) are updated to include payment via BACS money transfer to our account, plus by PayPal, which will be more attractive to today’s generation, plus to potential overseas members.

New, very striking, display banners have been introduced and the information-sheet/application form has also been updated in parallel. Family membership introduced last year, thanks to the FAAM General Manager, currently stands at 17 families. Members receiving Jabberwock via the internet has increased to 120.

Once again I ask all members to try to encourage their friends and contacts to join. At £12 p.a. it is not expensive and it does give astonishingly good value. We are all volunteers, so the FAA Museum benefits from every penny we collect. My thanks to all members for their loyalty to date. It is worth it.

9.             Grand Draw Report

Bill Ellison reported as follows:

I am delighted to report that this year’s Grand Draw Ticket Sales have exceeded £2400 which is some £450 more than last year or an increase of over 20%. This year we had a successful Air Day at the Museum’s Marquee, at which we made over £300 in ticket sales. Also this year for the first time we sold GD tickets at Cobham Hall.

I must point out that the Grand Draw is an excellent vehicle for receiving donations to the Society, indeed this year we have received donations by this method in excess of £150. I would like to thank all those individuals and local businesses who have donated or sponsored prizes for the draw, such as Yapp Bros of Mere, Hunts of Sherborne and Frobishers of Exeter. This year I would like to particularly thank NAVY WINGS for donating the Winkle Brown Book “Too Close for Comfort”.

I am pleased to say that the Grand Draw is in good shape with increasing ticket sales year on year

10.         Talks and Visits Report

Rosanne Crowther reported as follows:

Despite my statement last year that I would be standing down from my position I am still here, waiting for someone to replace me.

The past 12 months have once again proved to be (I hope) an interesting period with a variety of speakers.  The majority giving their time and travel free of charge to support or fundraising for the Fleet Air Arm Museum. I regret that there have not been quite as many coach trips as originally planned.  However, the one to SS Great Britain proved to be very successful.  Most of the credit for this lies with one of our members Philip Unwin who is also a guide on the SS Great Britain.  He was our excellent guide on the day.

I certainly plan to organise a visit to the Bristol Aerospace and possibly the Portsmouth Dockyard next year, please keep a look out in Jabberwock for further details.

As always, without the support of the Council, the Museum staff and you the members for providing me with ideas and support I would not carry on with this role, as I have done until a replacement is found for me!

Chris Penney asked: Is it too onerous to expect one person to look after both talks and visits? The Chairman replied that this is one of the reasons why we have started creating role description for the Council officers. In an ideal world, we would find volunteers to take on each of these roles.

Geoff Freeman asked: Had the Society considered a visit to the new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth? The Chairman replied that visits to operational warships are difficult because of security issues, additionally, RN vessels are not ideal for those with limited mobility.

11.         Editor’s Report

Malcolm Smith reported as follows:

Jabberwock 93 is well in hand and due for issue in early November. My thanks as always to the many correspondents and other contributors, your input makes it varied and (I hope) always interesting.

Society videos have now been viewed more than 1,100 times on our website. A recent addition is the video of the Meteor talk and the Caribou talk is now about to be issued.

Chris Penney asked: What is the editorial policy for Jabberwock? The Editor replied that about half of the content consists of regular items such as readers’ letters, snippets from Council meetings, notices of forthcoming events and the excellent summaries of monthly talks provided by Robert Heath. The remainder of each issue is selected from material provided by readers, of which there is usually far more to choose from than can be accommodated in the relatively limited space. If there is an editorial policy, it is to make the magazine as varied and interesting as possible. The Editor relies on your feedback to confirm whether this is successful.

12.         Election of President

The General Manager took the Chair.

Marc proposed that the meeting elect Gordon Johnson as President. The proposal was put by Malcolm Smith and seconded by Graham Mottram. The proposal was carried unanimously and Gordon is duly re-elected as our President.

13.         Election of Council

Council member Bill Ellison has tendered his resignation from the Council. All other Council members have volunteered to stand for re-election

Joan Wright proposed that these 13 should be elected and this was seconded by Stuart Crowther. All were elected unanimously.

14.         Any other business

Gordon Johnson resumed as Chairman.

Chris Penney asked whether the Council had re-considered the provision of wine at the talks evenings. He asked: Could we reduce expense on this item, bearing in mind also that most attendees came by car and had to drive home after the talk? Graham replied that we had recently had long discussions over the provision of cheese, but there had been various discussions of these refreshments at other times. There has been general agreement that members appreciate the existing arrangements and there were no plans to change them at present.

Mrs Hardy asked: Could the Society do more to engage local schools? The Chairman replied that there might be a danger of confusing the activities of the Society with those of the FAAM. Mrs Hardy further commented that schools do invite outside speakers from time to time. This would provide an opportunity to promote family membership. Geham replied that this would be discussed in Council as part of the continuing review of recruitment policy.

There followed a general discussion of incentives for new members, such as offering a block of free seats at monthly talks to schools and colleges, also raising the profile of the Society at Air Day. The General Manager commented that the Museum presence at tis year’s Air Day had considerably increased its publicity penetration. He plans to put the Museum marquee in the same place next year.

There being no other business, the meeting closed at 19.10.

 Approval of the Minutes given above.

 Position :

 Signature :

 Date :



SOFFAAM AGM, 28 Sep 2018 – list of attendees


 Gordon Johnson

 General Manager:

 Marc Farrance

 Council Members:

Graham Mottram

Chris Adams

Bill Ellison

Rosanne Crowther

Richard Macauley

Christopher Shores

Gil Johnston

Jim Humberstone

David Smith

Ivan Childs

Malcolm Smith (Secretary)


Richard Hufton

Ernest Lear

Stuart Crowther

Geoff Freeman

David Wright

Joan Wright

Chris Penney

Taff Lewis

Ian MacKinnon

Hardy Family: David, Amanda and Eachan

Ralph Davies

Ray Chamberlain

Keith Phillips

Stuart Sennett

Geoff Freeman

Tony Davies





Gordon Johnson


Graham Mottram

Vice Chairman:

 Ivan Childs


Martin Turner

Membership Secretary:

Robert Heath

Talks and Visits Organiser:

 Rosanne Crowther

Secretary and Jabberwock Editor:

 Malcolm Smith


 Chris Adams

Tim Smith

Chris Shores

Richard Macauley

David Smith

Gil Johnston

Jim Humberstone