Committee Meeting Summary – 20th October 2023

The Meeting commenced at 7.30 PM.

Present: Cathy and Martin Houghton, Chris Jackson, Peter Miller, Hilary Moorhouse, Bob Newton, Mat Peacock, Dave Scotson, Francis Stapleton, Tim Williams. Apologies for absence were received from Nick Talbot and Dave Fildes.

The Trust has thanked us for our offer not to increase the membership fees for Red Dragon memberships (see report from previous meeting). Although the total number of entries in the Membership List had increased slightly compared with January, more of them were now for one member per household rather than for family groups.

Seven new member applications were made in September and most of these originated from the Model Show. New member applications are coming in regularly, but the bulk of the new members are Seniors, while around half of those whose membership lapsed since January were of working age, tilting our demographic further toward the senior end. Membership numbers peaked at 420 in September 2022, but world events and their impact on people’s finances, have seen membership numbers slowly falling for the last 12 months. The main reasons for the fall in numbers were outside of the Society’s control, but we should all take heart from how much the Society has grown since 2017, and be reassured that our current numbers are still well above pre-pandemic levels.

A good number of members are, kindly, still adding donations to their subscriptions, and the Society is very grateful. We would also welcome new members for the Draw Club which costs £30.00 for 12 months (equivalent to £2.50 per month per number).  There are still two draws left in 2023.

The Golden Jubilee Appeal has not raised much money so far. It was thought that most people making donations at present were sending them to the Trust (or including a donation to general funds with their membership renewals). The Appeal is trying to raise money for new signalling – including the great amount of signalling equipment that will be needed for the Extension, should planning consent be granted. It was therefore decided to wait until after the Trust has achieved its current target before making any big new fundraising push ourselves.

Thanks were offered to Society President Peter Miller, who has now given 50 years of elected service to the Society. Peter was first elected to the Committee in October 1973 and became President in 1998.

The Society Stand will be visiting this year’s Warley Model Exhibition but two volunteers are still needed for the Sunday. It will be in the middle of the Hall, next to the Ffestiniog. The centrepiece of our display will be the model of Port Dinorwic acquired for the Railway and modified for continuous running and locomotive-free shunting by Society Chairman Tim Williams.

Before that, the Stand will also be going to the Hazel Grove Model Show on the 29th October. The advert in the most recent Llanuwchllyn Express, asking for extra volunteers for the Stand, did not generate any replies, and so will be repeated. There was also a discussion of possible new Society merchandise, including publications.

The final draft of the Terms and Conditions document for Accommodation users, incorporating some recommendations from the Company, was approved (see also the report from the previous Committee Meeting). It was decided to start the rebuild of the kitchen with renewing the flooring and the cabinets on the tumble-dryer side. The money for this would come from the already-approved budget and it is planned to carry out this work on the first weekend in March.

Having now received legal advice, there will be a separate Meeting, possibly on 17th November, to discuss the advisability (or not) of instituting a Code of Conduct / General Guidelines for members. This could be a very detailed document covering all aspects of safeguarding and including a detailed complaints and disciplinary procedure, or it could be a much more basic document, or it might not happen at all. All members are welcome to attend the online discussion meeting, or to send in a written contribution – please contact the Chairman. Its recommendations will go back to the Committee for a final decision.

The Committee discussed possible dates for the next AGM, without reaching a decision. The 2023 AGM was on 20th May but a similar date in 2024 would cause difficulties for several committee members. A date in June would make accommodation for attendees much more expensive; a date in April would cause issues with preparing the accounts. The discussion will, of course, continue.

Mat Peacock, the Model Show Organiser, reported on this year’s event, which took place on 16th – 17th September. The total number of tickets sold was up almost 30%. Factoring in children who entered free because they were accompanied by an adult, we had about 700 visitors, plus 90-100 participants on site on the Saturday and Sunday. Only nine members’ tickets were sold (though at least 20 members were volunteering at the Show, the Railway or on the connecting bus service). We could, however, have done with rather more volunteers at the School for the Friday set-up and Sunday clear-up sections of the weekend.

The Show featured 30 layouts, 8 traders and 2 Society stalls. The layouts occupied more than 2,200 square feet and yet cost only just over £800 to hire, thanks to the extraordinary generosity of the layout owners. Takings in the cafeteria were way up on last year, probably because this year there were two layouts in there to attract people in. Many other events were taking place in our general vicinity that weekend, many of them also attracting model railway traders. Nevertheless, the public turnout exceeded expectations, and the Show made a small profit.

The next Bala Model Show will be taking place on 21st and 22nd September 2024. Suggestions for exhibits and traders for next year’s Show are welcome, not least because we approached over 70 model railway firms for 2023 and come away with just 8 traders. Something similar happened with layouts, particularly with model club layouts. Perhaps the impact of very large model shows elsewhere was the primary cause of this. All types of model railway layout are welcome, but the most difficult to source – though we do not know exactly why – are standard gauge models set in Wales.

The next Committee Meeting, provisionally, will take place on January 26th 2024.

The Meeting closed at 9.12 PM.

Mat P

Society Secretary