New venue but same vibe for AGM and reception

The society’s annual general meeting (AGM) and annual reception were held on 23 November at a new venue – etc.venues St Paul’s, 200 Aldersgate Street, London EC1A 4HD. As ever, it was wonderful to see some 100+ members from across the regions, coordinators and council members catching up with friends and colleagues, enjoying the wine and food in a warm and friendly atmosphere.

The evening began with the society’s 61st AGM. An introduction was provided by our chair, Iain Macdonald. Iain welcomed all attendees to the new venue noting that bp’s head office at St James’s Square was unavailable. Sadly, the advertised speaker, Brian Gilvary, society president and former bp chief financial officer, was detained in Scotland and so was unable to attend. However, Iain was delighted to welcome Louise Kingham to the event. Louise is bp’s senior vice president for Europe, UK head of country and the society’s sponsor within bp. Iain also welcomed Byron Grote, the society’s previous president. Both Louise and Bryon were able to stay for the reception to talk to members over drinks and canapés.

Reflecting on the discussions between bp and the pensioner action group on pension increases, Iain highlighted the society’s neutral stance throughout.

Concern over the cost of living and to encourage more people to attend events, Iain confirmed council’s previous decision to increase the Christmas event subsidy from £15 to £18 per head, and to increase the subsidy for all other events from 1 January 2024 from £12 to £15 per head.

As regards the council, Iain reported that the deputy chair, Kate Owen, was standing down from the role but that she was co-opted on to the council as an ex-officio member. He also noted that Andrew Blakeman, the society’s former treasurer, was well on the road to recovery following his serious illness. He then introduced our new treasurer, Sandy Duncan, who stepped in when Andrew fell ill.

Concluding his welcome, Iain thanked all the regional coordinators, event organisers and the council support team for their help in making the society a success. A special thank you was reserved for Elaine Bush who had, singlehandedly, coordinated everything to make the AGM and reception run smoothly in its new surroundings.

Iain was followed by Sandy Duncan, honorary treasurer, who presented the accounts and his report for the year ended 31 December 2022. Sandy noted that society membership fell in 2022 from a starting point of 6,500 to 6,400 by year-end. However, the total number of events held was 152, a huge 110% increase over 2021 when just 72 events were held owing to the Covid challenges. The subsidy supported the attendance of 4,308 people at these events which was a 142% increase over the 1,783 attendees in 2021. The subsidy averaged just under £14 a head reflecting the more highly subsidised and well attended 60th anniversary events. Overall, Sandy concluded that the society had a healthy balance sheet.

Following a project to renew and update the society website, Dominic Emery gave a demonstration of the new site. Thanking those responsible for setting up the original site, Dominic noted that it had been added to over the years as the needs of the society grew and changed. As a consequence, it had become unstable and prone to crashing.

Dominic explained the aim was for the website to go live in November but he pointed out that training sessions for regional treasurers and event organisers were still ongoing and that the new-look site would be a work in progress for a while longer. With an improved navigation and the plan for members to be able to book and pay for events online, there was an expectation that more members would use the website and enjoy its many benefits.

The new site was developed with the help and support of Brandspace Media and to ensure compliance with bp brand guidelines. Dominic was pleased that Paul Duckworth from Brandspace was in the audience and was finally able to meet those members of the bp team – the regional coordinators and event organisers – with whom he had worked over Zoom and email.

There was a question from the floor about payment methods and Dominic confirmed that both electronic and paper payments are available as, at least for now, some regions are unable to take electronic payments. Payment methods include PayPal, credit and debit card and also cheque.

A brief guide to the new site, together with some screen shots, is given on page 5 of the Febraury edition of bps news.

Finally, the AGM turned to the election of council and officers for 2023-24. Following the resignation due to ill health of the honorary treasurer, Andrew Blakeman, Sandy Duncan was duly elected in his place. With Kate Owen stepping down as deputy chair, Dominic Emery was duly elected in her place. The society constitution requires the rotation of three council members annually so with two new members in Sandy and Dominic, the third member due to rotate, Keith Austin, expressed a willingness to stand again and this was duly approved.

Officers of the bp society

At the AGM on 23 November 2023, the officers of the society for 2023-24 were confirmed as:
President – Brian Gilvary
Chair – Iain Macdonald
Deputy chair – Dominic Emery
Honorary treasurer – Sandy Duncan
Honorary secretary – Cathy Dunn

The other members of the council are the two representatives of the regional coordinators: Mike Brookes and Keith Austin, along with two co-opted members: John Bartlett and Kate Owen.

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