Committee Meeting Summary – 15th February 2024

The Meeting commenced at 7.30 PM.

Present: Dave Fildes, Cathy and Martin Houghton, Chris Jackson, Peter Miller, Hilary Moorhouse, Bob Newton, Mat Peacock, Nick Talbot, Tim Williams.

Following the death, at the very end of 2023, of our long-serving and much-missed Honorary Treasurer, Dave Scotson, our Chairman Tim Williams has been working on the Society’s financial documents and online banking records, in co-operation with Dave Fildes. Dave Fildes was appointed Acting Treasurer with great gratitude.

Total membership numbers had shown another small fall since October (from 388 to 384 people) but were still significantly higher than the pre-Covid figure of 347.

The Draw Club for 2023 raised £356.33 for the Society. The Membership Secretaries invited people to join: it costs £30.00 for 12 months which is £2.50 per month per number. There are 10 Draws left for 2024.

The Railway will be holding a Teddy Bear Day on 13th July 2024. Dave Fildes had arranged this with the Company, on behalf of a Masonic initiative which works with hospitals in North Wales and elsewhere. Children in distress are given a teddy bear to help them cope with treatment and illness. The Railway will be hosting a fund-raising day, with costumed characters, activities in the Heritage Centre, and possibly a Teddy Bears’ Picnic at Flag Halt and a 7.25” ride-on railway at Llanuwchllyn. It is hoped that it will become a regular event. One of the Committee Members present had personal experience (via a young relative) of the good this scheme does.

The report from the Code of Conduct Advisory Meeting (11th November, 2023) was discussed. Its conclusion, based on expert legal advice, was that no formal conduct rules were needed, beyond what is already in the Constitution. However, with a view to improving safeguarding, the panel recommended that the Society formally adopt the Company’s volunteering regulations, which state that under-18’s must be accompanied by a related adult or registered carer.

Upgrade works in the volunteers’ kitchen are still planned for the first weekend in March. Improvements will be made to the units and, if there is time, the flooring. Mat Peacock noted the current high cost of local hotel and other paid-for accommodation, even by comparison with 2023 levels, and thanked Hilary and Tim for their considerable amount of work on maintaining our facilities, which will become ever more vital if the current high prices continue.

The President’s Appeal for signalling equipment has so far failed to capture the imagination of the public – it was decided to wait for the Trust to re-submit their planning application (for which they are fund-raising) before relaunching it. No progress had been made yet regarding proposed reprints of Dinorwic- and Penrhyn-related publications, which might one day be sales items for the Society. Mat Peacock made a formal proposal, based on his initial suggestion in autumn 2023, that the Society produce a souvenir map of sufficient quality and size to be framed for display. The Company and Trust had already expressed their support for this initiative. Mat had found an artist interested in the work and provided a rough estimate of costs. He was asked to continue developing the idea. He also reiterated his belief that carefully-chosen new merchandise was needed for the Society Stall and to be sold through the Llanuwchllyn Shop and online. Some other ideas were discussed.

The Society Stall is due to appear at the Statfold Barn Model Show (13th and 14th April – in the event, it was replaced by a layout plus some banners) and the Llangollen Garden Railway Festival (11th May). In addition, a layout with banners etc. will be going to the Shrewsbury Model Show (1st June) and the Oxfordshire 009 Model Show (22nd June). Adverts (in the Express and online) over the last year asking for new volunteers for the Stall have not been successful. The Society particularly needs more Stall  volunteers who can attend events in Wales and in the Birmingham and Manchester areas.

The Society has been offered the opportunity to purchase a substantial quantity of 7.25″ gauge track, which is currently stored at Llanuwchllyn. It was agreed to pursue this. Mat Peacock took over the Memorials Board project and offered to pursue the practical side of the matter. Chris Jackson offered to draw up a list of persons to be remembered.

This seemed an appropriate moment to remember our late Treasurer, Dave Scotson. He became a Society member in 1976, a committee member in 1979-1980 and Treasurer in 1988. He was also the Treasurer of the Maid Marian Locomotive Fund. It was noted that the obituary released by his ‘main’ railway, the Talyllyn, did not mention Bala, but that Bala and Maid Marian were referred to in the eulogy at Dave’s funeral in Aberystwyth. A minute’s silence was kept at this Meeting. An obituary and account of the funeral will appear in the next edition of Llanuwchllyn Express.

The next AGM will take place at 2.30 PM on 18th May, at Llanuwchllyn. There will be a light buffet beforehand and, at 4.45 PM, a special train. There will also be an engine available at Llanuwchllyn for members to drive.

Mat Peacock gave a brief report on progress with the Model Show (21st and 22nd September). Approximately thirty layouts had now been booked. Mat’s main concerns at present were the rising cost of accommodation in the Bala area and that his list of volunteers for the Show was significantly shorter than it had been at this same point in 2023, for the previous Show. As usual, finding standard-gauge layouts set in Wales had been particularly difficult. Mat had also been reaching out to craft firms not specifically selling railway-related items, to add to his trader list.

The Meeting closed at 9.34 PM. 

Mat P

Society Secretary