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Village Hall Chair's AGM Report - November 2020

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Good evening and Welcome to our Annual General meeting of Cuddesdon Village Hall

A special welcome to new ‘attendees’ to this meeting and to Colin Hessey who has very kindly agreed to audit the Village Hall accounts for another year.

These strange times , as we are in lockdown due to the COVID pandemic has forced us all to do things differently. So lets start by saying I have not had to conduct an AGM on Zoom before. 

And, speaking of doing things differently, I want to present this year backwards as it were, beginning with today. We are here to celebrate and thank our treasurer Linda Collins who is leaving this post tonight. She has done many years of very important work with our finances,  not only keeping the books straight, but keeping us on  track with our present expenditure and thinking about future possibilities. Linda - thank you so much for all you have done for this committee, for this hall and therefore for our community.

So, as with most of us our year has been divided into two halves – pre COVID and Into COVID.  As you can imagine, all our activities had to close at the first lockdown. However, strangely and very helpfully, the Hall has faired well through this period. We gained a grant of £ 10.000 from SODC  to help such endeavours as ours and we have procured a long term rental with a charity ‘Dare2Dream’ who use the hall daily to engage with young people who have been excluded from the education system. The Hall suits them perfectly as they need ‘sole’ use; they need flexibility of access and are really appreciating the outdoor space that the adjoining recreation ground provides.  It seems to be working very well.

The Committee made the decision to reopen the Hall after the first lockdown period and implemented the required signage, COVID regulations, Track and Trace systems  and have installed a cleaning regime that allows  the hall to be open to our hirers. Because of how the pandemic has panned out, we have not been able to ‘host’ any public hirings, in spite of several enquiries. We did manage to sneek in a COVID safe Table Top sale which raised over £150.00 . All village activities, Parish Council, WI, Bingo, Coffee Mornings, Film Club have had to be suspended.

Pre COVID we were open to the usual activities highlighted above and by popular request, we organised another Jazz evening which sadly had to be cancelled. Just before lock down, we procured better projection and audio equipment. We planned an ‘opening’ gala cinema evening showing of West Side Story .to celebrate but this too has had to be postponed.  We had planned Celebrating VE Day – the 75th Anniversary of VE Day with some members of our community talking about their memories of that important day. Thankfully we were able to publish some of these testimonies in the Parish Magazine. As we could not gather to celebrate together.

So in all, the Hall has been very well and appropriately  used by those in and outside the village.

The Hall is in pretty good shape internally but we must undertake  some overdue maintenance projects – some external repairs need to be attended to ; windows and front door need replacing and some interior work needs to be done. In spite of our relatively buoyant financial position, and looking at recent estimates, we are looking to spend some ten thousand pounds. I propose we launch a fund raising project in the New Year  so that we can all help  fund this  important maintainence work   A new key safe has been installed outside the front door, and thanks to the Parish Council , the fibrilator is in place. Many thanks, too , to the WI who keep the flower boxes at the front of the hall in such good shape.

The Archive room is now completed, with the installation of a fire proof cabinet for important documents. Sadly COVID restriction have put pay to the ongoing development of the project, especially as the room is small. But it is ready to go if and when….We thank SODC for their generous support of this project and Keith and Kathy Hawley for steering us to this point.

So all this is the result of a lot of hard and dedicated work by our committee – Niki Carter Secretary, Susan Palmer our bookings secretary and  all the committee members who make a great team. 

Every project has silver linings and dark clouds. We have had many silver linings this year. This will be my last year as Chair of the Village Hall . As a charity, the Charity commission requires trustees, a chair, a vice chair and a treasurer. We need, as a village and as a committee to keep an active interest in supporting the maintenance and running of the hall  and encouraging members of the community to come forward to work together. I keep thinking of the wonderful department store Boswells, opened in  1738   and sadly recently closed after all those the city of Oxford could not /did not continue to support it. The relationship between the community and committee is vital to keep this lovely old building active and alive to be part of village life so that we never have to face such a difficult dilemma. The hall belongs to everyone. It is important that we are all involved

Thank you

Gillie King