Ringing World AGM

Held by Zoom on 5th September 2020.

This was the third Ringing World AGM Joy and I had attended and it was by far the most feisty. We attended the meeting virtually, but socially distanced in Joy’s sitting room. A much more conducive way to attend because we could discuss the points raised without fear of being interrupted or shushed.

It was the Canon David Grimwood’s first meeting as Chairman and I think we were all a little startled at the way it progressed. The meeting was scheduled to start at 2.00 but the Central Council meeting was still in full swing at that time. The formality of AGM’s dictate they must be held at an advertised date and time, so it was proposed to adjourn the CC meeting and restart it 15 minutes after the close of the RW AGM. This was very professionally handled by the President.

In 2018, the financial position of the RW was healthy, showing a surplus of nearly £10,000. During 2019, they had faced some challenges and the accounts showed a deficit of £1445. Much of this was due to the adjustment to overseas postal costs where they had been overcharging members who were then able to reclaim these costs. However, subscriptions had continued to fall, and in fact the RW has lost on average 76 subscribers every year for over 30 years. They do have assets of £347,047 and liabilities of £141,391 which leaves a general reserve of £205,658, which represents about 6 months’ worth of expenditure.

All of this was before COVID had struck. This year, the RW is expected to make a loss of £35,000 owing to losing £3k month in donations and their investment in a new digital assistant.

After the formalities of the AGM, the main item on the agenda was the resolution to convert the RW to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation. This would not affect the charitable objectives or the editorial operation, but would simplify the admin with one governing body and would avoid liabilities for members and directors. It seemed very straight forward until the Board were challenged on these points and accused of being disingenuous and their points misleading. The concern was this move would distance the RW from the owners who are the current Guilds and members who had come to their rescue before. They were criticised for releasing the papers only that day, which had not allowed people the time to review their position. The meeting got quite ugly with all sorts of accusations being made. A vote was taken on the resolution, and even though more than 50% of the meeting agreed with the idea they did not get 75% required for its adoption. The idea of corporate membership of the RW was discussed and the Board agreed to write to all the Guilds to canvass their opinion.

The meeting only lasted 1 hour 20 minutes but we certainly needed the 15-minute break to flatten the ruffled feathers before we could conclude the CC meeting.

Annie Hall