AGM 2017 – Chairman’s report

AGM 2017 – Chairman’s report

Good evening and welcome. For those who don’t know the Trustees, I’d like to start by introducing them. I’m Richard Pike and I have been a Trustee for the last 4 years and Chairman for the last 3. I am one of the 5 Community Trustees appointed each year at this meeting. My fellow Community Trustees are; Caroline Aird, Marie Justice, James Brookes and Carole Smith.

As well as the 5 Community Trustees, we also have 3 Trustees appointed from Exminster Parish Council. Only 2 of these places have been filled throughout the year but I am very pleased that Josie Walledge and Kevin Smith have been prepared to add to their already considerable duties for the Parish Council by being part of the Victory Hall Trust.

The role of the Trustees is to manage the Victory Hall for the benefit of the residents in the parish. This is an entirely voluntary role and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the Trustees for their fantastic efforts over the last 12 months on behalf of the community.

Alongside the Trustees, we also have 2 part time employees. Elaine Coles became the administrator for the Trust at the end of last summer and has quickly become an invaluable member of the team providing fantastic support to the Trustees as well as being the person that hall users liaise with on a day to day basis.

In addition to Elaine, we also have Wendy our cleaner. Wendy has the task of keeping the hall clean and tidy which isn’t always an easy thing to do with the hall becoming much busier in recent times but feedback from hirers tell us that she does an excellent job.

The last year has been the second of a three year plan to completely overhaul the way that the Victory Hall operates in order to keep it fit for purpose and meeting the changing needs of our growing community. Initially, this concentrated on the governance and operating processes of the hall but the last year has continued the more visible improvements and prepared the ground for the last push that will see the hall transformation largely complete in time for the 100th anniversary of the end of the 1st World War next November. 

To this end, it has been wonderful to see the difference that decorating all parts of the hall has made. We have recently started the process of putting up pictures in the hall and this will be an ongoing project over the next 12 months. 

The zip hydroboil has now been replaced in the kitchen and the boiler and heating system will be completely overhauled in the summer months with a new boiler being fitted. A projector and screen will be fitted in the next few months thereby enabling the hall to be suitable for more presentations and cinema screenings. 

I’ve already mentioned that the hall has become busier and it is great to see this community asset being used for the purpose intended when it was built. We’ve had several new bookings over the last year and in particular, the WI are now meeting here monthly and Slimming World have started one of their very popular sessions here on a Friday morning. Following the redecoration, we’ve also had 2 wedding parties booked for later this year. 

Since the beginning of the year, the last Saturday of each month has been set aside for a food related evening to provide local residents with a wider selection of choice without having to leave the village. The Burns Night supper and Dance in January organised by Caroline Aird was extremely successful and since then has been followed by Pop-Up Chef Rob Dawe who will be back again in June. Sadly, the low demand meant that the Persian evening in March had to be cancelled. Several more food events are booked for the coming months but will only continue if the village support them. 

At last year’s AGM, I mentioned that discussions were taking place with Exminster Parish Council to help secure the future of the hall given the increasing costs of maintaining an aging building. I’m very pleased to confirm that the parish council have recognised the necessity and benefits to the community of providing additional funding and have agreed to provide substantial financial assistance in order to complete the remaining large projects including the replacement heating system and projector and screen that I’ve already mentioned. I’d like to record my thanks to Exminster Parish Council for their willingness to engage in discussions and the shared vision for a refurbished Victory Hall to remain a key part of community life in our ever growing village. 

I strongly believe in giving everyone the opportunity to make their own mark and so having had the opportunity to do just that over the last 3 years as chairman of the Victory Hall Trust, I feel it is now time to step aside and let others continue with the process of change. It has been a privilege to be entrusted by the community with the role of Trustee over the last few years and I would encourage others in the community to step forward and do their bit to make our village a great place to live. It can only happen as long as there are people willing to do it! 

Finally, I’d like to extend my personal thanks to all the Trustees who have supported me so wonderfully over the last few years. A Trustee Board is a team effort and I’ve very much enjoyed my time as part of the Victory Hall Trust team. I can’t highlight the efforts of everyone here but since he is also now retiring as a Trustee, I would like to highlight the huge contribution made by James Brookes over the last 2 years. His role of organising and overseeing the main property improvements have made a massive difference and far less would have been achieved without his hard work, commitment and enthusiasm. 

So in summary, the changes already made and those due to be completed in the next few months will complete the transformation of the hall into the jewel of our community that it has the right to be. As a member of the community who will be standing in the hall next year to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the 1st World War, I hope that we have honoured those brave soldiers by doing a good job of preserving this wonderful memorial to their sacrifice.

Richard Pike

May 2017