Chairman’s AGM Reports

The Chairman’s AGM reports are part of the constitutional and operational documentation required by the Charities Commission. Here are the reports for 2017, 2018 and 2020 submitted by the chairman for approval at the AGM.

Chairman’s 2020 AGM Report

The Chairman noted that it had been a difficult year due to Covid-19 and, like other small charities, RCHC had found it impossible to raise funds.

The Model Railway is still in its boxes and stored at Stansted House but will move shortly to a home in the village.

The Business Plan has made very little progress. Any movement on a potential lease for the RC Railway Station, for use as a museum, has been postponed as Network Rail and South Western Railway are busy with other issues.

AE thanked the Trustees, the Management Committee and volunteers for their continued support in being part of the team who are building a lasting project for the village.

Alan Eyers, Chairman, Rowlands Castle Heritage Centre. 26th November 2020

Chairman’s 2018 AGM Report

The Heritage Centre has continued its steady development since 2015 when we were first offered the iconic Model Railway for purchase. Immediately following purchase of the model in January 2017, we were most grateful for the offer to display it in Stansted House during the house open season. It has now been successfully displayed there again in 2018 for a second year and been very well received by visitors It has provided a modest revenue flow from donations and sales.

We are also grateful for the willingness of volunteers and operators to display and interpret the model. Malcolm Smith has again managed and increased the number of attendants as well as inviting Tod Sloan and Fred Smith to maintain and enhance the model. (Please also see Malcolm’s report). We have recently agreed to display the model in Stansted for a third year in 2019, for the start of the season at least.

Earlier, in 2016, we launched our Website at the Village Fair to stimulate an interest in the Heritage Centre’s activities, to develop the project by recording and interpreting the Rowlands Castle area, history and its community, with a strong focus on visuals – photos and pictures. We have been able to attract the interest of a wider range of residents who contribute in many ways – articles, photos, technical support – to the website, in their own time and in their own way. Bernadette Lomas has developed our Facebook site, encouraging interest through use of social media.

At the Inaugural AGM last year, also held in public, we were pleased to confirm our registration as a charity, and elected the first seven of the permitted eleven trustees. In February this year, we welcomed Ania Shawcross and Dan Cook to join us as Trustees, and are now considering the final two appointments. I would like to thank Sandra Hodgetts for her work as Treasurer which included setting up the bank account and collecting the pledges for the model railway. Sandra has now retired from this role (but remains a Trustee). Joan Drinkwater has become our interim Treasurer, has drafted the ‘Income and Expenditure Accounts’, and transferred accounts into specialist software as advised by Martin Cornish. Martin, a qualified accountant, has kindly agreed to examine our accounts.

During April, we held a public meeting hosted by Charlie Shawcross to seek residents’ views and develop ideas about future plans for the Heritage Centre.

We have also agreed the first draft of an Interim Business Plan which maps out ‘the way ahead’. An ‘Action plan’ has now been added, for ongoing review. Our major challenges are firstly, to agree a site for a museum or ‘community hub’ in which to store and display our archive. Secondly, to prepare a collections strategy incorporating the systematic archiving of documents and artefacts that have been donated. Thirdly to diversify our income from grants and donations towards both a more continuous revenue stream as well as a substantial capital fund towards suitable premises.

The Railway Station continues to be the most obvious opportunity to lease as museum premises, and we have resumed discussions with South Western Railways, the new franchise holder, for a lease for six years, the duration of their franchise. Discussions currently devolve around resolution of damp ingress, the possibility of including the Ticket Office as a local ‘Interpretation Centre for the South Downs’ (also attracting more railway users), and financial assistance towards the refurbishment of the interior.

On a personal note, I have now been involved with the Heritage Centre since its inception in 2015 and am proud at having contributed to its development and registration as a charitable trust. I would now, however, like to step back from chairmanship and continue at a lower level of involvement, focussing particularly on the website. Trustees views have been invited and we have also met informally to consider proposals for the Trust’s succession. I would like to thank my fellow trustees and volunteers for their support and friendship, and look forward to continue working with them in a reduced capacity. Finally, I am now pleased to propose the appointment or reappointment of the officer team for the Trust, to take the Heritage Centre forward.

Alan Drinkwater, Chairman, Rowlands Castle Heritage Centre. 15th November 2018

Chairman’s RCHC 2017 AGM Report

Early in 2015, ‘The Village’ was invited to purchase an iconic model railway showing Rowlands Castle during preparations for the D-Day Landings of 1944. A small working group held discussions and public consultations about setting up a museum to display the model. The meetings lead to uncertainty about where to display or store the model, so the project was put on hold. However, it was decided to set up a website or ‘virtual museum’ to raise the profile of the project and attract both volunteers and funds.

In July 2016, the RCHC website was launched at the Village Fair. The stand attracted attention and lead to donations of books and other archives. It generated sufficient interest in the model railway to justify an appeal for pledges and subsequently for sufficient donations to buy it.

In January 2017, the model was delivered to the Village by its designer and creator Peter Goss from Harrogate. Peter and his wife demonstrated how to assemble and operate the model to a small group of enthusiasts. The donors and then local residents were invited to view their acquisition. Peter helped disassemble and put the model into store. The Director of nearby Stansted House was impressed by the model and subsequently invited the Centre to display it for five months during the House’s open season. It was well received and is currently the topic of discussions for display again in 2018.

In September, the Heritage Centre was registered as a charity. Meanwhile work has continued with the website. The search for a venue to house the museum has also continued with contact being made with First Group, the new franchise holder of the local railway, to consider lease of unused accommodation over the local railway station.

In November, the newly appointed board of trustees held its first AGM and planned further progress including how to increase the archive, and further develop the website with younger people in mind.

Alan Drinkwater, Chairman, Rowlands Castle Heritage Centre. 21st October 2017

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